"Thank You, Residents of Donbas" and its consequences


After several weeks of conflict with the law enforcement bodies, Denis Oleinykov, owner of ProstoPrint which produced the T-shirts reading "Thank You, Residents of Donbas"  informs that he has left Ukraine, fearing arrest.

The businessman asserts that he personally and the firm that he heads are being persecuted, and have received threats. He links this with the production of T-shirts with a slogan which has become very popular on the Internet.

The phrase "Thank You, Residents of Donbas" became popular on the Internet after fans of the football club Dynamo, during a match on 7 August, chanted "Thank You, Residents of Donbas for the President … followed by an obscene word”. "  The video clip on YouTube has been incredibly popular, and been viewed by more than a million people.

According to unofficial information circulated on Facebook, the YouTube Administration tried to remove the clip, but was unsuccessful. Variations on the theme have appeared both on the Internet and on T-shirts produced by ProstoPrint.

The T-shirts were sold by opponents of the President on Independence Square in Kyiv (Olejnykov says that after being told that they could not sell the T-shirts, they gave them away, while asking for voluntary donations – translator).

Soon after this the Department for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOZ] carried out a check of the firm, supposedly because of unlawful use in other products of the Euro 2012 logo. ProstoPrint maintains that this was linked with the "Thank You, Residents of Donbas" T-shirts.

Then the situation unfolded even more dramatically with some political strategists saying it looked like planned provocation.

There was news that a young lad wearing such a T-shirt had been shot in the arm. The police deny this saying that he injured himself with a drill.

As reported, the police on 15 September tried to stop a “charity people’s fair” on Independence Square where products carrying the caption "Thank You, Residents of Donbas" were sold (or given away, with a donation sought). The police explained their actions as being to counter infringement of vending laws. They also confiscated the products, supposedly because of the investigation into alleged unlawful use of the Euro 2012 log.

In addition, the Dynamo fan Andriy Korynovsky was summoned by the police for questioning, supposedly over a fight at the stadium and assault on a member of staff during the match where the slogan was first chanted.  The Dynamo fans are convinced that the reason was in the chanted words.

Denis Olejnykov has stated on Facebook that this was persecution for democratic liberties. Others, from Donbas, like National Deputy V. Lukyanov claim that this is an insult to the President and residents of Donbas. He calls it “immoral and unethical” and says that the President is one of the symbols of the country that must be respected.

Slightly abridged from the report here

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