in Ukraine, funeral for activist killed and mourned in war | business news

By JOHN LEICESTER Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Poppies, the blood-red flowers that cover the battlefields of Europe’s two world wars, lie in mourning Saturday on the coffin of another dead soldier, this one killed in another European war, in Ukraine.

The hundreds of mourners for 24-year-old Roman Ratushnyi included friends who had protested with him during months of demonstrations that toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader in 2014 and who, like him, took up arms when Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. His neighbor. this february

His shortened life arc symbolized that of Ukraine’s post-independence generations who are sacrificing their best years for the cause of freedom. First with defiance and scores of lives against brutal riot police during the 2013-2014 Maidan protests in Ukraine and now with weapons and even more lives against Russian troops.

“Heroes never Die!” friends, family and admirers shouted in Ukrainian as Ratushnyi’s coffin was loaded into a hearse in a square in the Ukrainian capital now decorated with destroyed Russian tanks and vehicles. His charred helmets contrasted with the gleaming golden domes of an adjacent cathedral where priests had chanted prayers for Ratushnyi, known in Kyiv for his civic and environmental activism.

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From the square, the hundreds of mourners walked in a silent column behind his coffin to Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. The large square in central Kyiv gave its name to the three months of protests that toppled then-President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 and helped fuel the political and patriotic awakening of Ukrainians born after independence in 1991.

Ratushnyi had “a heart full of love for Ukraine,” said Misha Reva, who traveled in his soldier’s uniform from the war front on an overnight train to say goodbye to the friend he first met on the Maidan, amid the Ratushnyi protests. I was then only 16 years old; Reva was in her early 20s. It was Ratushnyi who introduced Reva to the woman who is now his wife, also in the square.

During protests in which riot police used batons and eventually bullets, the two friends holed up together for a night at St. Michael’s, the cathedral where Ratushnyi’s memorial service was held on Saturday morning. Poppies and a loaf of traditional bread were placed on his coffin covered with the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine.

Reva said that he and Ratushnyi signed up to fight on the first day of the Russian invasion on February 24. After participating in the defense of Kyiv in the first weeks of the invasion, Ratushnyi joined an army brigade, doing military intelligence work, Reva said. He was killed on June 9 around the city of Izyum on the war’s eastern front, according to the environmental campaign group Ratushnyi led in Kyiv. He fought for the preservation of a wooded park development where people ski in the winter.

“He was such a solid, big personality,” Reva said. “It is a great loss for Ukraine.”

During the Ratushnyi commemorations, air raid alarms sounded. These are daily occurrences in Kyiv, which is now relatively peaceful but reminiscent of the war raging in the east and south. Other reminders were the dozens of soldiers, some with flowers, among the mourners. Some hung yellow and blue flags on their shoulders.

“He was a symbol, a symbol of a new Ukraine, of freedom and a new generation that wants to fight for their rights,” said 21-year-old Serhli Sasyn.

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

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

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