A female soldier in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), whose group was invited to a business organization’s event in Kyiv, was reportedly asked to hide away from event-goers because she was wearing her uniform.
Olena Tolkacheva, the head of the Azov Angels patronage service, was asked to “hide in a corner” at the business event on the evening of October 26 because men were frightened by her clothing, she claimed in a post on social media.
"We faced a wild and shocking situation when one of the representatives of the organizers approached us 30 minutes after we were at the event and asked us to hide in a corner because the men who were at the event were frightened by the military uniforms," Tolkacheva said on video.
In an exclusive conversation with Kyiv Post, Tolkacheva said that the organizers of the event called her and “persuaded her to roll back the situation.”
“They called me after we published the video and asked me to somehow resolve this conflict,” said Tolkacheva.
In addition, she said that from the first minute of her stay at the event, she felt out of place: “When we went in, we were already uncomfortable. We saw how everyone was looking at us.”
“There were drunk people there, so they most likely thought we were from the military commissariat,” she said.
Tolkacheva says that they were not only asked to “hide in the corner” but were taken out of the room where the buffet was taking place.
“We were standing in the room where the buffet was. We were taken out of there, then they said, ‘finish your drinks and eat over there. You have only 5 minutes and not a minute more’,” she told Kyiv Post.
“But they insulted not only me personally, or the patronage service, or the third assault brigade. They insulted all the military!”
Later after publishing thevideo, the founder of the Young Business Club, Andriy Ostapchuk, wrote on Facebook to apologize to the Azov military personally and “to everyone whose feelings were hurt by this situation.” He said that the position of one person does not reflect the position of the club.
“The opinion and position of a person who worked on our team is not the position of the club and its members. The club has more than 70 employees. We are constantly working to be a single organization and profess common values,” Ostapchuk wrote.
“Unfortunately, this is not always possible. We thank the military every day for defending our country and do our best to support them,” he added.
Ukrainians on social media reacted strongly to the apology.
“The best apology is to close this club of stupid people,” one person wrote under the apology post.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba reacted on his Facebook page, saying: “Even the most expensive suit of a… businessman is not worth the uniform of a defender of Ukraine.
“When they realize that they are nothing without our defenders, there will be no such incidents.”
The situation outraged many on the internet, with Ukrainians having someone in their family who wears a military uniform and defends Ukraine every day.
“How low! The war is not over yet, and already such disrespect for the military. Shame on you!” a commenter wrote under Tolkacheva’s post.
“This is a problem for men, that they are afraid of uniforms. When I see a uniform, I feel safe and grateful. It’s a shame to invite them in and then kick them out.”
Kyiv Post contacted the Young Business Club, founded by Ostapchuk, for comment and received an automated response in Russian.
Starting from January 16, 2021, enterprises, institutions and organizations of all forms of ownership, entrepreneurs and other business entities must provide services and information only in Ukrainian (Article 30 of the Language Law).
Ostapchuk, is married to Yevhenia Gordienko, a Ukrainian businesswoman and blogger who caused controversy when she was seen at a party with a vocal supporter of Putin.
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