A far-right minister of Veterans’ Affairs in Ukraine

A far-right minister of Veterans’ Affairs in Ukraine

The Ukraine’s Ministry for Veterans’ Affairs embraces far-right nationalists who are regarded extremists by the US-based human rights watchdogs.

Anton Kolumbet is the first deputy minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine. He is also a founder of Demokratychna Sokyra  (Democratic Axe) party, a far-right political group declared to be founded by  veterans of the war in Donbass. Ukrainian Week reports the group is one of those who are opposing and protesting against President Zelensky. In 2017 Anton Kolumbet was appointed the press-person of the “Municipalnaya Varta”, the vigilante formation assisted by then mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klichko. According to Ukrainian media, “Municipalnaya Varta” is mostly made of members of far-right group S14 led by Yevhen Karas’.

At that, in November 2019 Bellingcat reported on the role of the far-right with the new government making a point that “this partnership has been formed despite the fact that Azov and S14 are considered extremist far-right organizations, and “a threat to Ukrainian democracy” by human rights watchdog Freedom House and other observers”

On January 12, 2020 Rauhanpuolustajat identified Yevhen Karas’ videos in which the leader of S14 was threatening people of Donbass that they “would carry out their reintegration to Ukraine their way” staging some mocking execution and playing with flame-throwers.

Being appointed to be the deputy minister for veterans’ affairs, Anton Kolumbet said: “There are almost 300 thousand veterans in Ukraine. These are people with experience and beliefs. When needed, they all will go into fighting for Ukraine. This is a reason why they should be well trained, retrained and kept motivated”.

Anton Kolumbet was one of the main lobbyists for the Law 329-IX On the Status of a Veteran to be adopted by President Zelensky. It has been enforced since January 1st 2020. The law provides for granting also those war volunteers who have been serving with paramilitary units which refuse to be incorporated into the regular Ukrainian Armed Forces units. According to media Anton Kolumbet states that the law refers to formations as Pravyi Sektor (the Right Sector), OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UDA (Ukrainian Volunteer Army).

The status of a veteran of war in Donbass (ATO) now gives to its holder 75%-discount of communal expenses, free annual courses of treatment in sanatoriums, additional vacation, priority to get flat and be allocated a two hectare plot of land.

Anton Kolumbet says that the war with Russia has been going on for 600 years.