Accompanied by Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Agrarian Minister Oleksandr Baranivsky, Culture Minister Ihor Likhovy, Emergency Minister Victor Baloha, Tax Office Head Oleksandr Kireyev, and Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, Victor Yushchenko took part in Epiphany celebrations at the Virgin Mary Church in Kyiv. Following Divine Liturgy, he attended a ceremony to bless the waters. He greeted those present with a traditional Jordan greeting: “Jesus Christ is being baptized! – In the Jordan!”

After the blessing of the waters was performed, the President scooped some water near the church and then dived into the ice-hole, presidential press office reported.

All bathers had to walk to the pond along the straw path. Yekhanurov, Likhovy, Baloha, Omelchenko and Kireyev braved the freezing winter waters together with the President.

The Protection of the Blessed Virgin Church is the basic element of the Cossack Sloboda Architectural Complex that recreates in detail a Cossack settlement of the 19th century. It has windmills, huts of the poor and houses of the rich, a tavern, and other premises. It differs from other museums because all buildings are real. For example, services have been celebrated at the Cossack Church for three years. Kostyantyn Oliynyk, Director of the Cossack Mamai Center, was the author of this project. He told Yushchenko how the complex had been constructed and how certain buildings had been used in the past.


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