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In Ukraine, funeral for activist killed and mourned in battle

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KYIV, Ukraine — Poppies, the blood-red flowers that cowl the battlefields of Europe’s two world wars, have been lain in mourning Saturday on the coffin of yet one more useless soldier, this one killed in but one other European battle, in Ukraine.

The lots of of mourners for Roman Ratushnyi, 24, included buddies who had protested with him throughout months of demonstrations that toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russia chief in 2014 and who, like him, took up arms when Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of its neighbor this February.

The arc of his shortened life symbolized that of Ukraine’s post-independence generations which might be sacrificing their finest years in the reason for freedom. First, with defiance and dozens of lives in opposition to brutal riot police throughout Ukraine’s Maidan protests of 2013-2014 and now with weapons and much more lives in opposition to Russian troops.

“Heroes never die!” buddies, household and admirers shouted in Ukrainian as Ratushnyi’s coffin was loaded aboard a hearse on a sq. within the Ukrainian capital now adorned with destroyed Russian tanks and automobiles. Their charred hulks contrasted with the shiny gold domes of an adjoining cathedral the place clergymen had earlier sung prayers for Ratushnyi, who was well-known in Kyiv for his civic and environmental activism.

From the sq., the lots of of mourners then walked in a silent column behind his coffin to Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. The huge plaza in central Kyiv gave its identify to the three months of protests that overthrew then President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 and which helped gasoline the political and patriotic awakening of Ukrainians born after independence in 1991.

Ratushnyi had “a heart full of love for Ukraine,” mentioned Misha Reva, who traveled in his soldier’s uniform from the battle’s entrance traces by in a single day prepare to say goodbye to the good friend he met for the primary time on Maidan, within the midst of the protests. Ratushnyi was then simply 16; Reva was in his early 20s. It was Ratushnyi who launched Reva to the lady who’s now his spouse, additionally on the sq..

During the protests the place riot police used batons and ultimately bullets with abandon, the 2 buddies sheltered collectively for one night time in St. Michael’s, the cathedral the place the memorial service for Ratushnyi was held Saturday morning. Poppies and a standard loaf of bread have been positioned on his coffin coated with Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag.

Reva mentioned he and Ratushnyi signed as much as combat on the very first day of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. After collaborating within the protection of Kyiv within the invasion’s opening weeks, Ratushnyi then joined a military brigade, doing navy intelligence work, Reva mentioned. He was killed June 9 across the city of Izyum on the battle’s jap entrance, based on the environmental marketing campaign group that Ratushnyi led in Kyiv. He fought for the preservation from growth of a wooded park the place folks ski in winter.

“He was such a solid and big personality,” Reva mentioned. “It’s a great loss for Ukraine.”

During the commemorations for Ratushnyi, air raid alarms sounded. They’re each day occurrences in Kyiv, which is now comparatively peaceable, however reminders of the battle raging to the east and south. Other reminders have been the handfuls of troopers, some holding flowers, among the many mourners. Some draped yellow and blue flags over their shoulders.

“He was a symbol, a symbol of a new Ukraine, of freedom and a new generation that wants to fight for its rights,” mentioned Serhli Sasyn, 21.

The “best people are dying now,” he added.

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Follow the AP’s protection of the battle at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


In Ukraine, funeral for activist killed and mourned in battle.
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