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People on Independence Square in Kiev mourn for victims, refuse to remove barricades

February 24, 2014, 11:04 UTC+3 KIEV

Thousands of residents and guests came to central Kiev to lay flowers and light candles in memory of the dead

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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev
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KIEV, February 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital was crowded all the past day and overnight. Despite late night, thousands of residents and guests came to central Kiev to lay flowers and light candles in memory of the dead. The square was filled with red carnations and thousands of burning lights, as people mourned for victims who died in clashes during violence in Kiev.

"We mourn for the dead on both sides,” a doctor, Olga Bogomolets, told an Itar-Tass correspondent. "We do not separate "our" victims from "theirs". These are our people, but some were in uniform and others were civilians," Bogomolets said. During mass actions, she organized a hospital on the square, saving many lives.

Mourning music was heard on Maidan (Independence Square). Priests held religious services for the dead. There were no opposition leaders. Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klitschko and Oleg Tyagnibok and other politicians were not seen there. Many people came with children. "Let them know what cost is paid for freedom," a woman, who had brought her seven-year-old son to the site, told an Itar-Tass correspondent. Many young people came.

People were already in a peaceful mood. Stores and cafes opened at Kreschatik Street after almost three months of no working. However, protesters did not intend to leave the square. A parliament member, the self-defence leader and the commandant, Andrei Paruby, said he would not allow anybody to remove the barricades. "Removal of the barricades is out of the question, since there are icons of self defence members who died defending Maidan," he stated. He did not say when opposition activists would leave. "There is no date for a revolution and Maidan," he said.

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Ordinary people spoke from the stage, saying words of mourning for the dead. Ex-Georgian president Michael Saakashvili also appeared there. He expressed condolences to relatives and friends of the victims and called for not giving the Maidan victory to anyone.

According to the Health Ministry, 82 people were killed in clashes between rioters and police in Kiev, and hundreds were injured.

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