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Ukrainian athlete who held up ‘no war’ sign at the Olympics is now back in Kyiv, where he says the streets are empty and people are ‘really nervous’ over a possible Russian invasion

In this body from video, Vladyslav Heraskevych, of Ukraine, holds a sign that reads “No War in Ukraine” after ending a run at the males’s skeleton competitors at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing.NBC by way of AP

  • Ukrainian athlete Vladyslav Hareskevych held a “no war” sign after competing at the 2022 Olympics.

  • Hareskevych, a skeleton athlete, spoke to Insider after returning house to Kyiv this week.

  • He stated he was hopeful that a Russian invasion might be prevented, however stated the environment is tense.

A Ukrainian athlete who staged a silent anti-war protest at the Winter Olympics is now back house in his nation’s capital metropolis of Kyiv, where he says the streets are empty and people are fearful about a possible Russian invasion.

Vladyslav Heraskevych made headlines on February 11, when he held up a sign reading “No war in Ukraine” after ending a run in the males’s skeleton occasion at the Beijing Games.

Insider interviewed Heraskevych on Wednesday, a day after he returned to Kyiv after competing in Beijing, where he positioned 18th in the skeleton.

“The streets are more empty, people are really nervous,” he informed Insider. “It’s a little bit changed.”

For months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ramping up troops alongside the Ukrainian border whereas claiming to have no plans to invade, however Western leaders in recent weeks have warned that Moscow may launch an assault at any second.

Russian tanks

In this picture taken from video supplied by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, Russian military tanks are loaded onto railway platforms to maneuver back to their everlasting base after drills in Russia.Russian Defense Ministry Press Service by way of AP

Putin has blamed the contentious situation on NATO, complaining about the alliance’s eastward expansion.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, however has sought to join for years. Russia sees the prospect of Ukrainian NATO membership as an existential threat.

Along these strains, Moscow has made calls for for binding security guarantees from the West — together with permanently barring Ukraine from NATO. But the alliance and the US have refused to bend on this demand, sustaining that NATO’s open door coverage will not change.

Putin introduced on Tuesday that he was pulling back some troops on the border, however Heraskevych stated the temper in Ukraine has positively modified since he left to compete at the Olympics.

Vladyslav Heraskevych

Heraskevych competes in the skeleton occasion at the Beijing Olympics on February 8.EDGAR SU/Reuters

The 23-year-old physics pupil stated he spent most of the winter out of the nation, coaching and competing, however he got here back to Ukraine proper earlier than the Olympics to isolate earlier than the Games.

But upon returning to Ukraine after the Games, he informed Insider that the streets have been emptier than the final time he was house.

Competing in the Olympics was particularly irritating for Heraskevych as a result of he needed to depart his mom behind in Ukraine on her personal. Heraskevych’s father is his coach, so he got here with him to Beijing.

Heraskevych stated he tried to “stay professional” and give attention to his runs throughout the Games, however admitted that it was “really hard” to tune out the information.

Since returning to Ukraine, he stated most people appear uncertain about what to anticipate in the coming days. But Heraskevych is nonetheless hopeful a conflict is likely to be prevented.

Vladyslav Herakevych

Heraskevych at the Olympics on February 11.Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

When requested whether or not he was fearful about how Putin may interpret his anti-war protest, Heraskevych informed Insider it wasn’t meant to be a criticism of anyone nation’s actions, however a name for peace.

“I only want peace in my country,” he stated.

“I hope this call for peace will help our situation and … show that we are normal people who want to live their best lives, to set some goals and to achieve them,” he added. “We are not people who want war, we are a kind people, a kind nation, who want to live a good life.”

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