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We are not afraid of Putin: challenge in the streets of Kyiv

‘We are not afraid of Putin’: Ukrainians demonstrate outside the Russian Embassy in Kyiv – video

The doors of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv were closed on Tuesday. Apparently no one was home. Outside in the street, a small, boisterous crowd of protesters waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags. “We are not afraid of Vladimir Putin. Or his army,” said one activist, Roman Tyschenko.

Behind him, demonstrators banged kettledrums and sang a rhythmic chant of “Putin huiylo”, to the deafening music of a loudspeaker. “That means Putin is a bastard,” Tyschenko explained. “It’s our anthem. Kharkiv football fans coined the song in 2014 when Russia robbed Crimea.

After a meeting with his security council on Monday in Moscow, Putin recognized the so-called separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent. In a long and threatening speech, he also asserted that Ukraine was not a state, but a historical mistake made by Lenin.

“Putin is mad, mad,” Tyschenko said. “Ukraine is both a country and a state. We have ancient traditions. Kiev was founded before Moscow. We have a much longer nationality record.

The threat of war looms over Kiev, a city of 3 million plus another million who commute daily from its suburbs. The US and UK governments believe Putin’s ambitions go beyond the Donbass region, including the separatist administrations that Moscow has long armed and supported.

They believe the Russian president is about to attack and surround the Ukrainian capital, sending tanks and troops currently stationed two hours away, just across the Belarusian border. The rhetoric among intelligence professionals is one of shock and awe at Baghdad. His goal: to subjugate the Ukraine.

And yet, so far, the people of Kiev have reacted to the situation with a collective weapon: carry on as usual. Cafes and restaurants were open on Tuesday, mothers pushed their toddlers through parks bathed in spring sunshine and cyclists bumped into cobblestone streets.

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Christi C. Elwood