kyiv once again in mourning this Saturday… Roman Ratouchny, figure of the pro-European Maidan movement, anti-corruption activist, and fighter in the Ukrainian army, was killed on June 9 near Izium, in the Kharkiv region, at 24 years old. This Saturday, on Independence Square in kyiv, thousands of people paid tribute to this “hero”.
In front of the coffin covered with a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag at the foot of the monument which overlooks this emblematic square of the capital, people of all ages saluted the memory of the young man who had joined the army like many other civilians since the beginning of the Russian offensive on February 24.
“An example”, “father figure”, “hero”
Coming to the Place de l’Indépendance alone or with their family, young or old, they approached the remains in turn, kneeling or genuflecting and placing a hand on the coffin where many flowers were placed. . “I think it’s important to be here because he’s a hero of Ukraine and we have to remember him,” Dmytro Ostrovsky, a 17-year-old high school student, told AFP.
“For everyone, you were a brother, for some a son, and for others a father figure,” said his father, Taras Ratouchny, who paid tribute to his son in front of the crowd. “Roman has always fought for a good cause and he is an example for all of us, for young people,” added Hlib, a 29-year-old soldier.
Ratouchny was one of the first students to protest at the end of 2013 in this square, the Maidan, the scene of massive pro-European demonstrations which in February 2014 led to the fall of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Wave of reactions
In addition to his political commitment and against corruption in Ukraine, Ratouchny led the NGO Protasiv Yar, named after a historic place in kyiv defended by activists who are trying to protect this area from illegal construction leading to the destruction of a large forest. neighborhood. His activism within this NGO had earned him death threats. He had appealed to President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Prosecutor General of kyiv, but no criminal investigation had been opened. “If there were 10 people like Roman in Ukraine, we would live in a completely different country,” Ostrovsky said.
The announcement of his death earlier this week sparked a wave of reactions on social networks, including that of English football legend Gary Linecker who retweeted the information by writing: “tragic”.
“Roman Ratouchny, one of the student demonstrators beaten by the police on the first evening of the Maidan revolution, (…), I interviewed him several times (…) a very lively, very intelligent guy”, had tweeted the journalist Oliver Carroll.
After the tribute was paid on the Maidan, six soldiers carried the coffin down the steps of the square through the crowd gathered on both sides, before depositing it in a hearse. He was to be buried in the afternoon at the Baikove cemetery, in the south of kyiv, where many Ukrainian personalities are buried.