Denis Oleinykov plans to seek political asylum in Latvia


The owner of the firm ProstoPrint which came to fame recently over its production of t-shirts with the words “Thank You, Residents of Donbas”, has told the BBC that he plans to ask for asylum in Latvia.  He left Ukraine on 21 September, and told the BBC that he is presently in Croatia.

The phrase "Thank You, Residents of Donbas" became popular after a soccer match on 7 August in Kyiv. Fans of the Dynamo soccer club chanted "Thank You, Residents of Donbas for the President … followed by an obscene word insulting the President”.  The President and a large number of those presently in power are from this region.  The video clip on YouTube has been incredibly popular, and been viewed by more than a million people. Variants elaborate on specific social and economic ills that are attributed to the residents of Donbas.

Denis Oleinykov is convinced that the law enforcement agencies have persecuted him because of ProstoPrint’s production of the t-shirts.

The Kyiv Police, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister Boris Kolesnikov, have asserted that the checks of ProstoPrint were linked with unlawful use of the Euro 2012 logo.

Mr Oleinykov told the BBC that he and his family faced real danger in Ukraine and would therefore be forced to ask for asylum. He says that they are considering Latvia since it is Russian-speaking but will stay where he is at present, and may also seek political asylum in a West European country, Germany, Belgium or Austria.

He says that he had received threats earlier that concerned his business.  The first phone call demanding that they withdraw the t-shirts came a week before things began on 6 September.  He says that he did not refuse out of political involvement but because the call was anonymous. He also decided that “from the technical point of view the phrase was not offensive”.

Denis Oleinykov also asserts that until this conflict his firm had never had any problems with the law enforcement or regulatory authorities. There had never been any issues over the rights to logos etc.  “So all this situation, all the link with Euro-2012 seems stupid, only an idiot would believe it”.

He suggests that the incredible popularity that the slogan “Thank You, Residents of Donbas” has gained is largely thanks to the behaviour of the law enforcement bodies.

As reported, Berkut riot 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.

The Department for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOZ] also 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 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.

New information from the BBC Ukrainian Service

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