Friday 15 November 2019

'We are prepared to mobilise and defend our country'


World flags, including tricolour, in Kiev yesterday.
World flags, including tricolour, in Kiev yesterday.

Damien McElroy Independence Square

Revolutionary fervour returned to the capital's major square yesterday as the city defied Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats of war.

A week after President Viktor Yanukovych fled from his post, the area had become a focus of mourning for the victims of the revolution. However, after the Kremlin's demands, demonstrators clutching flowers were outnumbered by men in fatigues.

Clusters of recruiting stations for radical action groups were doing brisk business. Scores of young men queued to sign up for "self-defence squads" run by Right Sector. Lawyers Olexy Stepankho and Sergey Kikich stood at the head of the queue. Neither was part of the Ukraine army's official reserve, so they were looking to join Right Sector instead.

"We are prepared to mobilise, to go wherever we are sent to defend our country," said Mr Stepankho (29). Russian press reports on the Maidan protests have seized on the swelling ranks of Right Sector as a threat to the Russian-sympathetic population of eastern Ukraine. But Mr Kikich said the revolutionaries would not attack their own countrymen. "We respect Crimea and other eastern cities," he said. "We want the country to come back together, not fall apart."

A group of foreign residents was cheered at the rally as they arrived flying flags of dozens of nations. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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