Veterans of Donbas War to Defend European Course in Parliament
They fought against Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine. Now, they're running for parliament to defend the country's European course - as well as the rights of veterans, benefits for those who were wounded in combat and for the families of killed soldiers. Veterans are featured in the lists of several political parties. They're also running for the Verkhovna Rada in constituencies
Lieutenant General Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi runs with the party European Solidarity. The paratrooper forces commander went through a number of important missions in the East of Ukraine — most notably, the raid of the 95th Airborne Brigade in the summer of 2014. During the most heated months of fighting Zabrodskyi’s unit went through 470 kilometers of the Donetsk region territory — from Slovyansk to Mariupol — and then 170 kilometers behind enemy lines alongside the Russian-controlled state border, after which the unit returned to Ukrainian controlled territory through the city of Luhansk. This was the biggest single raid in the history of the Ukrainian military.
“A soldier on a mission behind enemy lines can feel when there is support and conditions are right for performing the task at hand,” Zabrodskyi said.
Zabrodskyi admits, ending a nearly 30-year-long military career was not an easy decision. His mission in the legislature is further Ukraine’s integration in the European Union and NATO.
“NATO is a matter of collective defence. The enemy outnumbers and outguns us. So withstanding it alone is not easy. NATO provides access to the European system of sharing information — first and foremost, intelligence,” Zabrodskyi said.
When the war began Oleksiy Petrov left office work to be in the trenches. Now he is Zabrodskyi’s fellow party member.
“I was CEO of a company. A cozy office, a comfy chair, good salary,” Petrov said.
Petrov’s unit was involved in the infamous battles for the Donetsk Airport, Debaltseve and Shyrokine. Now he is determined to fight for legislation to provide social security guarantees to fellow-veterans and families of the killed Ukrainian soldiers. His other initiatives involve the protection of animal rights.
” I have a cat at home, who accompanied me at the war for six months. He helped me stay sane under enemy shelling. So… I owe it to my cat. I want to toughen the fines for poaching, to outlaw dolphinariums, to ban the use of animals in circles,” Petrov said.
Andriy Sharaskin runs for the Parliament with the party named Holos, which is Ukrainian for Voice. 5 years ago he chose to take a break from his successful acting career and went to war as a volunteer. As part of the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps he fought in the battle for the Donetsk Airport.
“The first time I came under shelling was in Pisky. It was a strange experience. The shells whistled by in a melodic way. But there was no fear,” Sharaskin said.
The former actor and director aims, among other things, to make Ministry of Defence more transparent by declassifying information on the defence procurement.
“I have three practically ready bills that only need some finishing touches. One is on territorial defense and involving citizens in it, regular training for reservists. There’s also a bill on weapons. Ukraine is the only European country that doesn’t have thorough regulations on weapons of any kind. Where there’s no law, there’s no order. Also, there’s a bill one private security and investigative activities,” Sharaskin said.
Anatoliy Fateyev was nominated by the Svoboda party to run at a single-member constituency in one of Kyiv suburbs. The construction engineer went to war and ended up in command of a unit within the 93rd Brigade. He spent two-and-a-half months at on the frontline before getting wounded in an IED explosion.
“It was in Maryinka. I was conducting a mine check, and it was a surprise mine, undetectable for our equipment,” Fateyev said.
Anatoliy Fateyev lost both his feet. On his long road to recovery, he realized that staying alive gives him a chance to help others like him. If elected, Fateyev is set to push for accessibility in the infrastructure of Ukrainian towns and cities. He is also determined to work on improving the lustration legislation that was adopted after the Euromaidan.
“We need to sort out the lustration law, because many of our problems stem from the incomplete lustration, and so the country’s development stalls. In reality, many of the former communists and Party of Regions people are still in power,” Fateyev said.
At these parliamentary elections, many Donbas veterans occupy prominent positions within party lists and will likely become MPs.