Hundreds of mourners carrying flowers and blue-and-yellow flags gathered in Kyiv on Thursday, braving the bitter cold to bid farewell to a respected Ukrainian poet and soldier killed on the front line.
Maksym Kryvtsov, 33, was known in the military as Dali for his thin moustache, and news of his death on Sunday spurred an outpouring of grief across the country.
“Maksym Kryvtsov was our youth, our future,” said Yurii Yurchenko, a 51-year-old soldier and musician who co-wrote songs with the poet.
“Unfortunately, the best of us go... The best went to the front from the first day, and many are no longer there,” he added.
Kryvtsov enlisted in 2022, after the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, and served as a machine-gunner on the front, where he penned his first book titled “Poems from the Embrasure.”
The collection was published last year and named one of the country's best literary works by the Ukrainian branch of the PEN international writers' network.
“Ninety percent of the poems here are about death,” he had written on social media a day before he was killed in a post accompanied by a picture showing the writer in uniform holding a copy of the volume, next to a tree.
- 'Brought happiness' -Pallbearers in uniform carried his coffin shrouded with a Ukrainian flag into Saint Michael's Cathedral in central Kyiv, where Kryvtsov’s body was displayed in an open casket.
“We pray for the rest of warrior Maksym's soul,” a priest conducting the ceremony said, describing the writer as a “new hero.”
“We will remember him and continue our struggle,” he added.
Over one hundred people crowded into the small cathedral to pay their respects, some crying.
Among them was Olena Smodarchuk, a friend.
“He was an incredibly bright person. Very caring, supportive. He brought happiness, people always smiled at him,” Smodarchuk said.
She added Kryvtsov always made his friends feel safe, as if he “knitted a sort of safety sweater” around them.
Kryvtsov was from the western Ukrainian town of Rivne, where he is expected to be buried later. He fought in east Ukraine between 2014-2019, against Kremlin-backed separatists.
It was there that Kryvtsov received his nom de guerre “Dali,” for his moustache that resembled the one of the famous Spanish painter Salvador Dali.
Kryvtsov is among dozens of respected cultural figures in Ukraine, including musicians, dancers and writers, who have been killed fighting since Russia invaded.
Many of those who came to pay their respects clutched flowers.
They held roses or carnations, and African violets – a reference to one of the writer's poems, in which he described his own death on the battlefield.
The poem, published in January on Facebook, reads:
“From my severed arms, violets will sprout in the spring.”
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