Ukraine’s Tymoshenko addresses Independence Square
KIEV (AFP) – “Yulia, Yulia!” the crowd chanted on Saturday, Feb 22, 2014, as cameras flashed near the stage on Independence Square in Kiev, signalling to those standing in the damp cold that Ukraine’s freed opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko had arrived.
Suddenly, the hero of the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution appeared on the podium, in a wheelchair from a back problem, sporting her trademark blonde crown braid, eyes tired and face marked by two-and-a-half years of imprisonment. She was wrapped in a black jacket with ribbons the colour of Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag tied on.
“She’s just like Roosevelt, but she’s indestructible,” gushed demonstrator Tetiana Matvychuk, referring to the US president who had a paralytic illness.
Ms Tymoshenko’s appearance on the stage on Independence Square – a barricaded anti-government enclave occupied since November by protesters who this week fought to the death to protect it – was nothing short of remarkable.