Independence Day = Freedom Day: Two processions instead of parade
Ukraine's twenty-eighth birthday demonstrated that Independence Day is equal to Freedom Day. Since, regardless of whether the company is with the president or with front-line comrades, Ukrainians sincerely congratulated their country.
For several years now, on the eve of Independence Day, the Ukrainian public has been breaking spears around the format of festive events on this occasion. It could be a debate around the need for a military parade, or a heated discussion of how expedient it is to bring heavy weapons to the center of Kyiv as it should be deployed at the front line, or swearing over the lack of a parade in its traditional understanding in favor of holding a Procession of Dignity, and so on.
But all this only proves once again how quickly Ukrainians forget the bad things: after all, during the Yanukovych "reign", there were neither concerts, parades, or marches at the Maidan ...
Probably, it was precisely the comparison drawn between Zelensky and Yanukovych over their turning down of the parade in favor of paying bonuses to the military, which forced the President's Office to reconsider its vision of Independence Day celebrations. And, despite the fact that the Procession of Dignity did not resemble a military parade, the worst expectations never materialized. Neither Heroes of Heavenly Hundreds, nor fighters from the front line, nor veterans were forgotten. President Volodymyr Zelensky made a touching speech, comparing Ukraine with a mother, whose neighbor took away her children – Crimea and Donbas.
However, the head of state did not name the neighbor and avoided saying that it was Russia who launched the aggression. Then the president handed the awards to the Ukrainian military (including handing to the families of the fallen troops the awards issued posthumously), as well as to volunteers and doctors.
Meanwhile, at the front line that day, unfortunately, the enemy decided to also "congratulate" Ukrainians by opening fire on Joint Forces' positions. According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the ceasefire was violated five times.
Returning to the Procession of Dignity held in the capital, one of the most memorable events was the performance of the national anthem by several orchestras, pianists, a folk choir, opera singers, and show business stars.
It is curious that only three former presidents of Ukraine attended official events – Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, and Viktor Yushchenko. Of course, Viktor Yanukovych, even before escaping to Rostov, never really liked such gatherings, while many spectators of the Procession of Dignity noted the absence of Petro Poroshenko.
He preferred to attend a religious worship ceremony, after which he met with the Ukrainian military. However, Poroshenko did come to Zelensky’s solemn reception on the occasion of Independence Day.
After formal events were over, an unofficial, but no less large-scale, part began when 12,000-15,000 people took part in the March of Ukraine Defenders. They marched from Shevchenko Park along Shevchenko Boulevard to Bessarabska Square, then moved to Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square, where they held a performance in support of prisoners of war and sang the National Anthem of Ukraine. After that, part of the people went to Mikhailivska Square to participate in interfaith vigil in honor of the fallen soldiers.
In total, according to preliminary police data, up to 50,000 people attended the celebration at the Maidan in honor of Independence Day.
According to Kyiv PD chief Andriy Kryshchenko, no major incidents were reported during the official events. An investigation has been launched into a bomb threat. Detectives are working to identify the anonymous caller.
In addition, during the president's address, an intoxicated man was detained after he threatened to "detonate a grenade". At the same time, the police chief explained that the offender had no actual grenade on him, but the threat voiced was enough to press charges.
In general, it should be noted that the absence of even minor skirmishes due to a different visions of Independence Day celebration formats confirms once again that Ukrainians are different, but this shouldn't prevent them all from jointly repelling the enemy, building their country, turning it into a strong and prosperous state.