Ukrainians honor dead fighter at outdoor funeral in capital | lifestyle

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian soldiers, family and mourners gathered in freezing weather Sunday in Kiev to pay tribute to a soldier killed fighting Russian forces in Bakhmut, a strategic besieged city on the eastern front.

A service with an open casket was held on Kyiv’s Independence Square for Major Oleh Yurchenko, who was killed in Bakhmut on January 2. Fellow soldiers carried the casket while others knelt on the ground. As an Orthodox priest led the service attended by about 200 people, bugles played and later a male quartet sang solemn hymns.

Nicknamed “Happy”, Yurchenko, 45, volunteered for the army after Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. According to a Facebook post, he was the head of security for TIU Canada, an energy company operating in Ukraine.

Yurchenko was known as a Ukrainian patriot, having participated in pro-democracy demonstrations in 2004-2005 and later in 2014 that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych as president. Kyiv’s Independence Square was the center of both demonstrations, making it a suitable location for a religious ceremony for Yurchenko.

“He was the best Ukrainian, a kind father, a very responsible person,” said Yuriy Zhukovsky, a Ukrainian soldier. “It’s a very hard loss because these are the best people in Ukraine and they’re dying.” It is a great pity. And no matter how many enemies are killed, we are sorry for (the death of) one such person.”

Another fellow soldier, Ruslan Boyko, praised Yurchenko’s positive outlook.

“He was a very brave, very cheerful person who always tried to help everyone, to be ahead in every situation,” Boiko said. He said Yurchenko was always ready to “take on more responsibility, more tasks and protect everyone as much as possible.” possible.”

Olesia Yurchenko, the 22-year-old daughter and eldest child of the fallen soldier, said the family mourns his death but tries to live by his principles.

“It’s about everyone appreciating their strengths: hard work, kindness, honesty, loyalty to their country, their family,” she said. “Because that’s what my father taught me. Don’t give up, don’t back down.”

She said her father “always said we still have to build the country … build Ukraine.”

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