On October 14, Kharkivites celebrated the Defender of Ukraine Day with a series of events.
The monument to Defenders of Ukraine was unveiled at Defenders of Ukraine Square. The idea of the monument appeared three years ago. The initiator of creating the monument in Kharkiv was the organization of veterans of the Russian war in Donbas. The project was developed by Myr (Ukrainian: Peace) creative workshop and built by the Kharkivstalkonstruktsiya trust.
“The symbol of unity and strength was presented in the image of a huge cube featuring Coat of Arms of Ukraine. The slot in the cube is a wound inflicted on Ukraine by the war. The inscription ‘Heroes Don’t Die!’ runs through the cube,” the project’s authors explained. Nearby, 14 columns were installed to commemorate 2014, the year when the war started. Patriotic lines from the “Love Ukraine” poem by the Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Sosyura are written on each column.
Hundreds of Kharkivities including clergy, military personnel, families of deceased, city and regional authorities took part in the event.
Timur Barotov, a combatant who defended Ukraine against the Russian military intervention in Donbas, was born in Sevastopol, Crimea. Together with his sworn brothers, they arrived in Kharkiv from Lviv, Kyiv and Uzhgorod to lay flowers on the grave of their perished friend.
“I think the point is that we are steadfast Ukrainians. And this is our land. And we stand and will stand here. We will never budge. That’s the kind of symbolism I would see in this monument,” considers the serviceman.
For veteran organizations’ representatives, the outward appearance of the monument remains marginal. The main thing is that Kharkivites pay tribute to perished heroes.
At about 5 p.m., a march dedicated to the Defender of Ukraine Day started in the city center. According to Kharkiv National Police, about 500 people took part in the event. Military combatants who took part in the war in Donbas, representatives of veteran and patriotic organizations including Pravy Sector (Ukrainian: Right Sector), National Corp and as well as some Kharkiv patriots all joined the march. They were accompanied by the right radical Fraykor organizations, notorious for its anti-LGBT clashes.
This year, the event was held under the slogan “No Surrender!” The action participants marched from Maidan Konstytutsii along Sumska Street to the Taras Shevchenko monument. They chanted patriotic slogans: “Our glorious homeland is unity of Ukraine,” “Glory to Ukraine – Glory to the Heroes,” “No surrender, only victory,” and carried national blue and yellow as well as red and black flags associated with Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought for the ideals of Ukraine’s independence against nazi and communist occupants during WWII.
Participants expressed their opposition to the Steinmeier Formula. They are convinced that this is a full surrender and a betrayal of Ukrainian interests.
According to one of the event’s organizers, Euromaidan activist Boris Redin, today’s action aims to convey to Ukrainian and primarily European politicians that the surrender of Ukraine’s national interests by the so-called “Steinmeier Formula” will not stop the bloodshed, but will exacerbate hostilities and incite confrontation within the state.
At the Shevchenko Monument, participants of the march paid tribute to the memory of perished defenders of Ukraine with a minute’s silence. After a short meeting near the monument, activists headed to “All for the Victory” tent on Maidan Svobody where the patriotic movie “The Divine Volunteers” was screened.
On the occasion of the Defender of Ukraine Day, the Factor of Freedom exhibition was opened in Bommer cinema. It is dedicated to prominent personalities of Ukrainian history.
According to organizers, biographies of these figures are very different, but they are united by the idea of freedom that they wanted to gain for Ukrainians. The authors of the exhibition tried to imagine what kind of profiles Mazepa, Petliura and Bandera could have on the social networks, Google map would show what places they could visit, what people would be in their friends’ list and to show the light and shadow of their key decisions.
The exhibition was organized by the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance with the support of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration together with the Kharkiv Historical Museum.
Pokrova or the Intercession of the Theotokos celebrated on October 14, is a traditional religious holiday which was observed by Ukrainian Cossacks in the 17th and 18th centuries. That’s why the Day of Cossacks was introduced on Pokrova in 1999.
The Defender of Ukraine Day is celebrated as a state holiday for the sixth time, and for the fifth year, it has been a day off.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: Suren Kocharyan, objectiv.tv, fakty.ua, Boris Redin, kh.depo.ua