Thousands of Ukrainians flocked to the center of Kyiv to celebrate Ukraine’s 29th Independence Day on Aug. 24.

The participants include Ukrainian war veterans who have fought in eastern Donbas, cultural leaders as well as politicians. Many of the people are dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothing and came with their families and friends.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena began the celebration with a ceremony in memory of Ukraine’s soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine, in the presence of  their relatives and representatives of military troops under tight security.

Zelensky also participated in the raising flag ceremony at Sofiivska Square and delivered a speech to thank the troops for their support of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Zelensky pledged to organize a parade once the peace is back, and explained his decision of withholding the military parade for two years in a row.


“The military equipment should not be in peaceful Kyiv, but on the front line”, he said.

He also presented state awards to Belarusian singer Sergei Mikhalk and Ukrainian artist Mikhail Homa, known by his stage name as Dzidzio, before a concert held on the square.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of veterans and activists took part in the March of Defenders of Ukraine, an alternative event where the participants marched from Shevchenko Park to Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. The march was led by relatives of servicemen killed during the EuroMaidan Revolution and in the Donbas.

Hundreds of people came with flags and flowers on Khreshchatyk, the capital’s main avenue, to show their support to the veterans.

Traffic was blocked in the city center for the occasion, which took place under tight security.  Over 4,000 police officers and servicepeople of the National Guard were on duty, as well as the State Emergency Service and the Security Service of Ukraine.

Kyiv police also inspected the European Square, Khreshchatyk metro station, Maidan Nezalezhnosti and other locations after receiving anonymous reports of alleged mining earlier.

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