Amid the chaos of Kiev unrest, protester proposes to girlfriend… while wearing a helmet, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket
- Man proposes to girlfriend on street in Kiev near Independence Square
- Gets down on one knee with megaphone as comrades light smoke flares
- Another man also proposes today to girlfriend having met during rallies
- Jenya, 23, now plans to marry 17-year-old Nastya on Ukraine barricades
Amid the destruction and devastation as Ukraine is gripped by widespread anti-government protests, love is clearly in the air.
One demonstrator wearing a helmet, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket proposed to his girlfriend on a street in Kiev close to Independence Square today, where the deadliest clashes have broken out.
In a set of images taken by photographer Oleksandr Stashevskiy, the man was seen professing his love for the woman with a megaphone – getting down on one knee as his comrades lit smoke flares.
Will you marry me? A protester proposes to his girlfriend on a street close to Independence Square, Kiev
Put a ring on it: The proposal took place on a street where the deadliest clashes broke out last month in Kiev
Unusual scene: The demonstrator was wearing a helmet, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket during the proposal
Also today, photographer Anastasia Vlasova captured Jenya, 23, proposing to 17-year-old Nastya, having met during rallies earlier this year. They plan to get married on the barricades.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president is to return from a short sick leave that had sparked questions over if he was taking himself out of action in preparation to step down or for a crackdown on the protests.
Viktor Yanukovych’s office made the announcement about the president’s return tomorrow the same day as protesters seeking his resignation held one of their largest gatherings in recent weeks.
About 20,000 people were at the main protest site in Kiev’s central square today. Mr Yanukovych’s sick leave was announced Thursday, with his office saying he had an acute respiratory illness.
Flowers: In a set of images taken by photographer Oleksandr Stashevskiy, the unnamed man professed his love for the woman through a megaphone – getting down on one knee as his comrades lit smoke flares
Love: Also today, photographer Anastasia Vlasova captured Jenya, 23, proposing to 17-year-old Nastya, having met during rallies earlier this year. They plan to get married on the barricades
Troubled: A barricade in Kiev. Ukraine’s opposition held a new rally today amid concern about military intervention in the country’s worst crisis since independence
But some opposition leaders believed he was vanishing from the limelight in advance of imposing a state of emergency amid the deepest turmoil in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution in 2004-2005.
‘Repression works in reverse. More people are coming to Maidan’
Tamara Tribko, demonstrator
The protests, which are heading into a third month, began in late November after Mr Yanukovych backed away from a long-awaited agreement to deepen ties with the European Union.
They quickly grew to encompass a wide range of grievances after police violently dispersed some of the early gatherings.
During Mr Yanukovych’s sick leave, a sense of stasis set in and neither side showed signs of movement. But his return to work could bring new action.
Violence: The Ukrainian flag flies above an anti-government barricade that faces a cordon of riot police in Kiev
Epicenter of Ukraine’s unrest: An opposition supporter uses his mobile phone outside Independence Square
Food to eat: A woman distributes homemade cakes to opposition supporters guarding a barricade outside Kiev’s Independence Square
‘Repression works in reverse. More people are coming to Maidan,’ said demonstrator Tamara Tribko, using the abbreviated name of the square where an extensive tent camp has been established since early December.
Top opposition figures spoke to the rally to urge supporters to push forward with their demands.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the protest leaders, emphasised the importance of obtaining the release of all people arrested during the protests.
‘We must free all,’ Mr Yatsenyuk said, adding that there were 116 people being held. ‘Freedom to every hero.’
Protection: A cordon of riot police face a barricade set up by anti-government protesters in central Kiev
Making their stand: An opposition supporter guards a barricade outside Kiev’s Independence Square
In a line: Riot police officers take positions outside Kiev’s Independence Square as the country’s crisis deepens
Mr Yanukovych’s sick leave was announced the morning after the parliament voted to offer amnesty to many of those arrested during protests.
‘We must free all. Freedom to every hero’
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, protest leader
It was on the condition that demonstrators vacate some of the buildings they occupy in Kiev and government buildings elsewhere in the country.
The measure was greeted with disdain by protesters, who characterised it as the Government essentially taking hostages and then using them to try to negotiate concessions.
Kiev’s city hall, which protesters have seized, is being used as an operations centre and dormitory key to supporting the extensive protester tent camp on the nearby Independence Square.
Creativity: Anti-government protester Anna paints a hardhat at the Kiev City Hall, which has been occupied by opposition forces
Opposing sides Tents of anti-government protesters are pictured at Independence Square in Kiev
Another protest leader, former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, showed that opposition hopes for cooperation from abroad are high.
‘The crisis will end at last when under the auspices of the international community we will hold new elections that will stop the regime of Yanukovych,’ he said.
On Tuesday, parliament is expected to consider reforms to the constitution that would reduce some presidential powers and allot them to the prime minister.
Mr Yanukovych last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, but has not appointed a new one.
Misty skies: Ukrainian riot police stand in position opposite an anti-government barricade in Kiev
Cold: A group of anti-government protesters warm themselves around a barrel near a poster of famous Ukrainian football coach and player Valeriy Lobanovskyi. The text on the poster reads: ‘Lobanovskyi forever’
Armed: A uniformed protester carries a baseball bat near a barricade in central Kiev, the capital of Ukraine
Also today, authorities granted permission to a prominent opposition activist to leave Ukraine for treatment of injuries he sustained after allegedly being kidnapped and tortured.
Dmytro Bulatov went missing on January 22 and resurfaced a week later, heavily bruised and with part of an ear cut off.
The incident, along with the beatings of other activists, one of whom died, raised fears that government supporters are using brutal hirelings to intimidate the opposition.
Police had sought Mr Bulatov for questioning on suspicion of organizing mass disorder, but prosecutors said he was free to go today.
He was taken to an airport and Mr Klitschko said he would be flown to Latvia for treatment.
Taking a break: An anti-government protester is pictured having a snack on Grushevsky Street in Kiev
Preparing themselves: Members of Ukraine’s nationalist movement Right Sector practice hand-to-hand fighting at a tent camp in Independence Square