Ukraine Maidan: An Unlikely Love Story Arises From The Chaos And Protests In Kiev

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Ukraine Opposition Indep Sq 21Feb2014
Ukraine opposition rally, Independence Square, 21 February 2014.

The EuroMaidan protests that have engulfed Ukraine and led to the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych (and the threat of Russian intervention) have many facets. Scores of people have died in the turmoil, but some unexpectedly happy outcomes have also occurred. In fact, the protests have even led to love and possible matrimony. The Daily Mail tabloid of Britain reported that a protester in Kiev fell in love with the very riot policeman she initially confronted at the barricades at Independence Square.

The policeman, named Andrei, was so taken by the courage of 24-year-old opposition protester Lidia Pankiv, a journalist -- for bravely standing between a heavily armed police cordon and defenseless protesters -- that he eventually felt compelled to send her a text asking for her hand in marriage. The Ukrainian Romeo and Juliet later went on a date and fell in love.

Pankiv explained how Andrei got her cell phone number in the first place. “We were up close to the police officers and I got a call from a friend. The officers were only just in front of us, and she was asking me to help find a friend of hers that had been arrested,” she said. “She wanted me to write something. I told her to call me, and I gave her the number she should call. I told her it twice as it was loud and there was shouting.”

Instead, Pankiv got a flattering text from one of the cops on duty, Andrei (who refused to divulge his surname out of fear of getting fired). Andrei's text read: “Despite all the commotion I remembered your phone number when you gave it to your friend. I don't even know your name. I was standing in the night with a shield in front of you. When you stopped us from advancing, I realized that I want to marry you.”

Even Pankiv conceded how odd and unexpected their pairing was. “I was really surprised by the message and don't know why I agreed to meet him. I thought perhaps it might be possible to convince him that the side he was on was wrong and I certainly didn't expect to find myself falling in love with him,” she explained. “But when I saw him when I started to speak to him - that is what happened.”

Pankiv is no love-starved young ingénue – she was very committed to overthrowing Yanukovych. After a television network called Inter became intrigued by this strange love story, they invited Pankiv to appear on an interview program as a kind of “human interest” feature. But Pankiv turned the tables on the TV station by condemning their coverage of the demonstrations, rather than discuss something as trivial as her love life (all during a live broadcast that could not be edited). 

“You probably want to hear a story from me about how with my bare hands I restrained a whole riot unit, and how one of the officers fell in love with me, and I fell in love with him,” she told the befuddled TV presenter. “It is true that I fell in love with the policeman that I met, but I'm going to tell you another story. I did use my bare hands when I met them, but it was not to fight them, it was so I could drag the bodies of those killed the day before and the day before that of the streets. It is about how two of my best friends killed peacefully protesting.”

She thundered: “I can tell you how I hate Yanukovych and all those who carry out their criminal orders. I came here today only because I found out that this is a live broadcast. I want to say that I also despise Inter because for three months it deceived viewers and spread enmity among citizens of this country. And now you are calling for peace and unity.”

In a fitting farewell to the TV station, she added a coda: “I've brought these photos here for you, so that you see my dead friends in your dreams and understand that you also took part in that. And now, I'm sorry, I don't have time. I'm going to the Maidan. Glory to Ukraine.” 

Her extraordinary statement generated huge cheers and applause from the live studio audience.

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