Former minister returns Russian decoration in protest of attack on Ukraine

Ljubljana – Anja Kopač, a vice president of the opposition SocDems and former labour minister, has returned a state decoration awarded to her by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 in protest of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

She has returned the Order of Friendship that she received for efforts to strengthen peace and friendship between the Slovenian and Russian nations.

“This is my personal protest over an act of aggression and a grave violation of international law, violence and horror that will be inflicted on millions of people,” Kopač said.

In her role as minister, Kopač was involved in the efforts to erect a monument to fallen Russian and Soviet soldiers on Slovenian soil, a memorial that was unveiled in Žale Cemetery in 2016.

The memorial was supposed to be a reminder of the destruction that is always left in the wake of wars, she noted, adding that peace, cooperation and living in harmony, the values she believed in, had been trampled by yesterday’s decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine.

“I was very proud of the decoration. But now I return it with equal pride. For peace!” she wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.