For the fourth day Kyiv is celebrating the 1025th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus' - more than three thousands of pilgrims, as many law enforcements, Patriarch Kiril, four Presidents, nine Primates of the churches, and closed to traffic city center for both cars and pedestrians.  

Considering the risk of provocations, unprecedented security measures were introduced in the capital. On the eve of the holiday the law enforcements even appealed to the nation "to be tolerant to various confessions, to follow requirements of Ukrainian legislation, not to disturb public order, not to provoke conflict situation and assist police with maintaining order".

Though certain protest actions could not be avoided, in the general the situation in Kyiv was rather calm, mostly because residents and guests of the city treated the holiday as dignities to traditions and confession. Interestingly, people were mostly disturbed by pomposity of the festivities and closed nature of many actions.

ForUm's correspondent visited several events of the holiday and asked parishioners about impressions.

The level of festivities dedicated to the 1025th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus' was impressive. Special train from Moscow brought delegations from all 15 church councils of the world, nine church leaders: patriarchs of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Cyprus, as well metropolitans of Poland, America and Canada. The same train delivered the Cross from the cathedral of Greek city of Patras, on which St. Andrew the Apostle was crucified.

As for financial expenses, Ukrainian authorities did not pinch, having spent about six million dollars, including for restoration of monuments and territory of sanctuaries and Volodymyr's hill, the place of principle service.

On the eve of the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kiril, activists of "Freedom" party planned a rally along the route of the march, but the court banned any actions in the center of the capital and near Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

Nevertheless, on Saturday morning about 30 representatives of the party, surrounded by police forces, held a protest action near "Dnipro" hotel on European square. The majority of mass media also gathered there, as accreditation for main events was denied.

However, the action of "Freedom" did not draw much attention: people were passing by preferring not to mix politics and faith. After an hour, participants started leaving and organizers declared they were not in the mood for disturbance.

At the same time, across the street, journalists spotted another group of people and considered them as some other protesters. But it turned out, those were believers who came to see the guests of the festive service. People were not allowed on Volodymyr's hill. The organizers claimed there were not enough seats. Even people with invitations, some of whom were MPs and officials, had to leave empty-handed after an hour of waiting.

The first to arrive were President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and Russian Patriarch Kiril. President Putin was 20 minutes late and the service  started with delay.

After the service Patriarch Kiril thanked the church leaders for coming to Ukraine and praised "the demonstration of unity of the orthodox world". In turn, metropolitan Volodymyr spoke about the mission of preserving Christian values.

Despite the delay, the service did not last long. After short speeches the guests left and dozens of believes waiting on European square were finally allowed to the hill. 

After the departure of VIP guests, however, the territory of the Volodymyr's monument thinned out.

"I did not understand whom they held this service for. The believers are the foundation of religion, but we were not even allowed there," Olena Lisovaya, 45, complained.

"You know, it does not matter whether we got there or not, whether we saw Kiril, Putin and Yanukovych or not. Many believers complain they were not allowed here and there, they did not see this and that, but it does not matter. We came to praise God and we did," another parishioner Viktoria said.

In general, people did not speak much about politicians and church leaders. Many guests of the capital arrived to see Kyiv sanctuaries and pray in cathedrals.

French girl Barenis had arrived in Kyiv for a guided tour and learned about the holiday already being in Ukraine. She was impressed by Ukrainians' attitude to their faith.

"I would never think that a city can be decorated that much for a religious holiday. I am impressed that so many people, both young and older, go to cathedrals, especially in the country with many social problems," she shared her emotions.

Thanks to positive mood of people, the events went smoothly and almost without incidents.
"Whatever they say, faith is in man's heart, and no flowers, pomp and millions can replace it. And before speaking about God, those politicians and clerics should tame their appetite first," pilgrim Anatoliy from Russia told ForUm.

Certain conflicts, however, happened anyway. Thus, police detained Vradiyivka activists, who were holding a rally on Independence square.

Later in the evening hundreds of people gathered on Kreshchtyatyk to see the festive concert, held in the frameworks of celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus'
The stage was installed in front of the Kyiv city state administration and hosted the band of Vyacheslav Butusov "U-Peter", bands "Alisa", "Voskresenye" (Sunday), "S. K. A. I." and "the Karamazovs brothers".

"It is cool that rock bands perform in a concert dedicated to a religious holiday. I believe the church should be more modern to attract more young people. If clerics stop declaring but start demonstrating the true faith, many people will come to the church and will believe in God," Olga Vykaluyk, 17, expressed her opinion.

Olga Karetnykova, photos by Maxim Trebukhov


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