KIEV – Wearing a helmet, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket, a Ukrainian anti-government protester professed his love through a megaphone, got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend as his comrades lit smoke flares.
“Fighting changes people. I see it in myself and I see it in my comrades,” the young man said near the Ukrainian opposition’s barricaded tent city in the capital Kiev.
He had called his girlfriend of one-and-a-half years on a freezing Saturday night and asked her to join him on the barricades.
“My mind is clear but my heart is boiling.”
Close to the lines of riot police, the man — an activist from the radical opposition “Right Sector” group — pulled out a small red box with a ring and asked her to marry him.
Overcome with emotion, the young woman nodded, smiled and pulled her brown balaclava from her mouth to kiss her future husband to cheers from dozens of protesters nearby who set off fireworks and lit red flares.
A friend handed her a bunch of red roses as the man shouted the war-time nationalist slogan “Glory to Ukraine!” and protesters chanted back: “Glory to the Heroes!”
The spot the young man chose for his proposal was a street close to Independence Square on which the deadliest clashes broke out last month.
“I’m speechless, delighted!” said the man, who like all the most militant protesters declined to reveal his identity for fear of prosecution.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but unfortunately — or fortunately — the revolution started so I decided to do it here.”
Over the past two months the Ukrainian opposition has been locked in a deadly confrontation with the government of President Viktor Yanukovych over his decision to scrap a key pact with the European Union.
The movement has recently radicalised and turned into a drive to oust the president.
“I’ve started looking at life in a different way. Everything has become a lot simpler. That’s why I did it now,” said the man, before taking his fiancee on a procession across the barricade back to “Right Sector” headquarters in an occupied building nearby.