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Kyiv hosts a different kind of parade to celebrate Ukraine's independence day

Ukrainians visit an avenue, where destroyed Russian military vehicles have been displayed in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Andrew Kravchenko
/
AP
Ukrainians visit an avenue, where destroyed Russian military vehicles have been displayed in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Updated August 24, 2022 at 11:13 AM ET

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine's independence day celebrations won't have the usual fanfare as Russia persists in its invasion.

Aug. 24 marks the day when Ukraine's parliament vowed to separate from the Soviet Union in 1991. The date this year also marks six months since the war began.

Perhaps the most striking departure from past festivities has to do with the parade.

Thousands of people walked along the way as more flat-bed trucks brought in their cargo.
Andrew Kravchenko / AP
/
AP
Thousands of people walked along the way as more flat-bed trucks brought in their cargo.

Instead of the Soviet-style events — a ritual that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called wasteful — Ukraine's military is lining the route with the burned-out husks of Russian military equipment.

"I think it's appropriate, if sad," Mykhailo Virchenko told NPR as he and his wife, Lubov, strolled past the installation this week.

Children played on the cannon barrels, while friends took selfies in front of armored personnel carriers.
Andrew Kravchenko / AP
/
AP
Children played on the cannon barrels, while friends took selfies in front of armored personnel carriers.

"We hope that we can celebrate independence without weapons in the future. Maybe with flowers and dances instead," Lubov said.

Thousands of people walked along the way as more flat-bed trucks brought in their cargo. Children played on the cannon barrels, while friends took selfies in front of armored personnel carriers.

These are some of the etchings seen on the Russian military equipment. Left, "for Mariupol." is carved into the metal. Right, "for Mykolaiv," is written in black marker.
/ Julian Hayda
/
Julian Hayda
These are some of the etchings seen on the Russian military equipment. Left, "for Mariupol." is carved into the metal. Right, "for Mykolaiv," is written in black marker.

Exposed to the elements, rust coated the armor where people etched graffiti like "revenge for Mariupol" or "for Mykolaiv," Ukrainian cities that Russia has attacked since February.

Ukrainian officials warned civilians against gathering in major cities.

"Russia may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel," Zelenskyy said.

Instead of the Soviet-style events to celebrate independence day — a ritual that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called <a href="https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/08/24/7263977/" data-key="1109">wasteful</a> — Ukraine's military is lining the route with the burned-out husks of Russian military equipment.
Andrew Kravchenko / AP
/
AP
Instead of the Soviet-style events to celebrate independence day — a ritual that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called wasteful — Ukraine's military is lining the route with the burned-out husks of Russian military equipment.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser in Zelenskyy's office, said Russia would do whatever it could to make the people of Ukraine miserable.

"You'll remember they said they'd march in downtown Kyiv within three days of invading. Here we are six months later, having demonstrated how weak Russia is compared to Ukraine. So they'll want their compensation," Podolyak said.

Ukraine's Culture Ministry has confirmed there would not be any public celebration to mark the holiday. The current martial law prohibits large public gatherings.

People look at destroyed Russian military equipment at Khreshchatyk street in Kyiv.
Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
People look at destroyed Russian military equipment at Khreshchatyk street in Kyiv.

"I think we can only celebrate once we win," Valentyn Paska, a Kyiv resident, told NPR. "I'm just going to work that day."

Instead, the military will conduct private flag-raising ceremonies, and some of the capital's monuments will be illuminated in blue and yellow, the flag's colors.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Drawing the attention of large numbers of pedestrians and amateur photographers in downtown Kyiv a large column of burned out and captured Russian tanks and infantry carriers were displayed.
Andrew Kravchenko / AP
/
AP
Drawing the attention of large numbers of pedestrians and amateur photographers in downtown Kyiv a large column of burned out and captured Russian tanks and infantry carriers were displayed.

Julian Hayda