Mon, Dec 09, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Bonfires, borscht, humor abound in Kiev protest camp

AP, KIEV

“In order to fight, one must be healthy,” Vnesok said.

Nearby, Father Yuriy, from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate was leading prayers that called for peace and love near a large wooden cross.

“We are supporting these people in their fight for liberty and freedom, which God granted to each man,” Father Yuri said.

As fears of yet another break-up of the demonstrations persisted, hundreds of retired military men, including those who fought during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, descended on the protest camp to protect the activists.

“We have become a live shield between the authorities, riot police and the people, so that blood, the blood of our children, is not spilled,” said Vasyl Hryhorenko, 46, a beefy man clad in camouflage uniform, who spent two years in Afghanistan in the mid 1980s.

Finally, what protest goes on without entertainment and humor? Demonstrators swayed their hips to patriotic music blaring from loudspeakers while a never-ending flow of orators addressed them from a giant stage. One evening last week, activists mounted a suitcase on the stage and presented to the crowd a giant train ticket to Russia written out to Yanukovych. The joke hit home well.

How long can the protests go on, in freezing temperatures and Spartan conditions?

“Until New Year, until spring, until summer, until next fall,” Horda said. “My parents and I will stand here until the very end.”

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