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Retired Russian Admiral Running For Ukrainian City Council Seat

Alexander Kovshar

Alexander Kovshar

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- A high-ranking retired Russian naval officer who took part in the 2008 Russian-Georgian war is running for a seat on the Sevastopol city council, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Aleksandr Kovshar was the deputy commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet until last year and is now a consultant to the Russian Navy.

Local elections in Ukraine will be held on October 31.

Kovshar, a 61-year-old former rear admiral, is No. 3 on the list of the Russian Bloc. He was decorated for his achievements during the Russian-Georgian war.

Russian Bloc leader Hennady Baskov told RFE/RL on October 13 that he does not see any problem with Kovshar running for office in Ukraine. He said Kovshar has Ukrainian citizenship.

But Baskov said Kovshar has not given up his Russian passport because he "is a patriot of the city, a patriot of Sevastopol."

Sevastopol's election commission confirmed that Kovshar submitted a copy of his Ukrainian passport. But it refused to say when the document had been issued.

Ukrainian laws prohibit dual citizenship.

Mykola Vladzimyrsky, the coordinator of the civic group Ukrainian Sevastopol, told RFE/RL that the Ukrainian citizenship law has not been fully implemented and many Russian military personnel with dual citizenship and what are termed "anti-Ukrainian" views have run for political posts in Crimea.

According to Ukrainain media reports, Kovshar this week made comments condemning what he called "forced Ukrainianization."

"They want us to speak the Ukrainian language, even though it has three fewer letters than the Russian alphabet does," he is quoted as saying. In fact, both languages have the same number of letters.

Sevastopol is the site of a Russian Black Sea Fleet base. The population of some 342,000 is about 70 percent ethnic Russian.