More than 1,000 anti-vaccine protesters gather in Ukrainian capital

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – More than 1,000 anti-vaccine protesters gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday to denounce restrictions on …

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – More than 1,000 anti-vaccine protesters gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday to denounce restrictions on coronaviruses, in the second protest this month this month.

Protesters, many of whom were members of radical nationalist groups, gathered in front of the parliament and through downtown Kiev carrying signs reading “Down with unconstitutional bans!” and “The Pandemic of Lies!”

The Ukrainian government has demanded that teachers, doctors, government employees and other groups of workers be fully immunized by December 1. remote bus.

“We protest against compulsory vaccination and demand (that the government lift) the restrictions,” said Mykola Kokhanivskyi, the organizer of the protest who heads the nationalist group OUN Volunteer Movement. “The constitution guarantees every Ukrainian the right not to undergo medical experiments and does not require any COVID certificate. “

Ukraine has reported a record number of infections and deaths, an increase attributed to the slow pace of vaccination. The country has reported more than 3.3 million infections and 82,913 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Four coronavirus vaccines are available in Ukraine – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac – but only 23% of its 41 million people are fully vaccinated. The Department of Health reported that 96% of patients with severe COVID-19 were not immune.

Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said the government aims to fully immunize at least 40% of the country’s adults by the end of the year.

Authorities further tightened restrictions on Wednesday, reducing the validity of a certificate issued after the first vaccine from 120 to 30 days to prevent people from delaying getting a second dose. These certificates are required to access public transport.

The restrictions have spawned a black market for fake vaccination documents, which sell for the equivalent of $ 100 to $ 300. A fake government digital smartphone app is reportedly available, with fake certificates installed.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government has promised every fully vaccinated Ukrainian a payment of 1,000 hryvnia ($ 38), or about 5% of the average monthly salary, but widespread reluctance remains.

“I will not allow anyone to force me to take drugs containing microchips, compromising health and causing thousands of illnesses,” said one of the protesters, Olena Alkon, a 36-year-old entrepreneur, referring to the theories of the long debunked conspiracy on vaccines. “I will not allow the pharmaceutical mafia that invented a myth about the coronavirus to manage my health.”

Speaking at the rally, Yuriy Ovsiykenko, a lawyer, denounced the vaccination as a cover for the “destruction of the Ukrainian nation”.

This was the second such protest this month. Following the previous demonstration on November 3, authorities arrested Ostap Stakhiv, the leader of the anti-vaccine movement. A court ordered him to remain in detention for two months pending trial for attempting to destabilize the situation in the country.

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Christi C. Elwood