I spoke to Oleh Michnev, the head of the Afghan war veterans. He was very busy and was holding an important meeting, but Eduard who I wrote about in a previous article got me a few minutes with him.
When I asked him what role the Afghan war veterans played at Maidan he said, “Roles are for actors in theaters, we are Ukrainians and our most important function is to protect Ukraine.” He said that an unjust was done to Ukraine and the veterans want “European standards, not Yanukovych’s standards.” He went on to explain that under Yanukovych there were six different living standards depending on who you were, and those who have the least would get the least governmental support, and this is not the European way.
He told me that protests started with students who were living below normal standards. When they were beaten for protesting, their parents and grandparents were angered and joined the protests. “We don’t support any political party,” Michnev said, “we stand between protestors and aggressors to avoid the spilling of blood, and we of all people understand the value of blood.”
I asked him when they will leave Maidan. “We will leave last,” he said, “we are used to fighting for life.” He explained that Ukrainians can’t trust anyone; some of the politicians could be “wolves hiding in sheep skin.” They won’t leave “until the promises of new politicians are fulfilled.” They believe that it’s necessary not only to change the government, but the entire system. They want a “birth of a new system,” he says, adding, “we will stand until then.”