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Kyiv-born former US soldier, Trump-whistleblower wins Democratic primary for Congress

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 19, 2024 10:56 AM 2 min read
Eugene Vindman, a Democratic candidate for Virginia's 7th congressional district, shakes hands with voters on June 8, 2024. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/the Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Eugene Vindman, a retired U.S. soldier who gained prominence for his role as a whistleblower against former President Donald Trump along with his twin brother Alexander, bested his competitors in a Virginia Democratic congressional primary held on June 18.

Vindman was born in Kyiv in 1975 as Yevhen Vindman, but moved to the U.S. as a child and goes by Eugene.

The two brothers helped reveal the phone call that Trump held with President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019, in which Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into President Joe Biden, who was widely expected at the time to be the Democratic frontrunner and his likely opponent.

The call was the key component of Trump's first impeachment. Both brothers were serving as aides to the National Security Council at the time, and Eugene was dismissed in 2020 in what he has called a politically-motivated firing.

Vindman, who has no previous political experience, delivered a commanding victory over his six Democratic rivals, securing 49.3% of the vote.

The district, which was recently redrawn, is currently held by Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who is retiring to run for governor of Virginia. Previously, it was a solidly Republican district for decades.

Vindman will face Republican opponent Derrick Henderson, also a U.S. Army veteran, in the general election for the House of Representatives seat in November.

If Vindman is elected, he will be the second Ukrainian-born member of the current Congress, joining Victoria Spartz, a Republican. Spartz is also running for reelection, and as her district is solidly Republican, she is favored to win.  

In the aftermath of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Spartz supported aid for Ukraine and spoke about the war in deeply personal terms, but also attracted controversy for her attacks against Zelensky and head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak.

Spartz shifted her stance on Ukraine over the following years and grew increasingly critical of U.S. aid for the country. She began to call for more "accountability" for the funding and was among the 112 Republicans in Congress who voted against $61 billion in aid to Ukraine in April.

The congresswoman is currently facing an ethics inquiry over her alleged abusive treatment of staff.

Ukrainian-born Congresswoman Spartz wins Republican primary
Congresswoman Victoria Spartz was among the 112 Republicans in Congress who voted against aid for Ukraine in April.

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