KYIV: Ukrainians on Wednesday (Aug 24) mark 31 years since they broke free from the Russia-dominated Soviet Union in what is certain to be a day of subdued, but defiant celebrations overshadowed by fears of new Russian missile attacks.
Ukraine s Independence Day, which falls six months since Russia s Feb 24 invasion, has this year taken on hallowed significance for Ukrainians determined not to fall back under Moscow s yoke.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned late on Tuesday of the possibility of “repugnant Russian provocations” and “brutal strikes” by Moscow to cast a pall over what he said was an important day for all Ukrainians.
Officials have banned public gatherings in the capital Kyiv and imposed a hard curfew in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which has weathered months of shelling on the front lines. Many government officials have been ordered to work from home.
Ukraine broke free of the Soviet Union in August 1991 after the failed putsch in Moscow and an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians voted in a referendum to declare independence.
Zelenskyy has not disclosed how the government will mark the public holiday, one of Ukraine s most important, for public security reasons, but he has made clear that it will.
Ukraine laid out the carcasses of burnt-out Russian tanks and armoured vehicles like war trophies in central Kyiv in a show of defiance ahead of the public holiday.
“We must be aware that disgusting Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.
He has led his country s resistance since Russian troops poured over the border in what Moscow calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise its smaller neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of an unprovoked, imperial-style war.