Hundreds of people gathered at two sites in central Kyiv on June 18 to mourn the death of Kyiv activist Roman Ratushnyi, an activist who became a well-known figure in Ukraine’s pro-Western revolution in 2014.
There, in one of those cars, was the body of a young Ukrainian activist who once inspired and united these people and many others to fight for justice. Tearful mourners laid flowers and carried Ratushnyi banners at both events, with some shouting, “Heroes never die!”
Ratushnyi, one of Kyiv’s most prominent activists, had been fighting for a better Ukraine since he was 16, first during the EuroMaidan Revolution, then supported Ukrainian soldiers during Russia’s eight-year war in Donbas, and then dedicated himself to civic activism.
Roman was a very direct man. “The more Russians we kill now, the fewer Russians our children will have to kill,” he had recently written. Some observers outside of Ukraine will no doubt find this statement very harsh (I imagine the predictable squeaks and pearl clutches of certain German officials on the subject), but in Ukraine, people know that Roman is right. This war is not a misunderstanding between neighbours. It is a war of survival.
In early April, Roman joined the reconnaissance platoon of the 2nd Motorized Infantry Battalion, the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Khulodni Yar Armed Forces. The battalion defended Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv region, especially in the Izum region. On June 9, Roman Ratushnyi was ambushed and killed. His death was officially confirmed on June 14 and his body was brought to Kyiv on June 16.
Roman represents a new generation of Ukrainians (when he died in combat, he was about to turn 25) who want their country to be not only prosperous but beautiful, and full of life. It is disgusting that these are the people who are forced to pick up a gun and go kill the invaders now because Putin decided that the Ukrainians should not be allowed to have a country. However, sometimes it is necessary to fight violently for life.
He took on Ukrainian oligarchs and corrupt officials as the leader of the non-profit organization “Protect Protasiv Yar”, which fought against illegal construction in the Kyiv park. “He was a leader and a patriot who pushed for change and inspired others,” says one of the nonprofit’s activists, Oleg Nikiforov.
Who was Roman Ratushnyi?
Roman Ratushnyi, 24, was well known in the capital. As a teenager, he participated in the Dignity Revolution in 2014. He later became a local activist. In particular, Roman revived the “Save Protasiv Yar” movement, thanks to which he managed to save the local park from the illegal construction of three 40-story buildings. He later founded an organization of the same name.
Born into a family of Kyiv activist Taras Ratushnyi and journalist and writer, Roman seemed to have little chance of not becoming civic.
When the center of Kyiv was ablaze with mass protests against then-President Viktor Yanukovych during one of the most crucial events in the history of Ukraine, the EuroMaidan Revolution, Roman was only 16 years old and studying in one of Kyiv’s schools.
Roman Ratushnyi was born on July 5, 1997. His parents are Taras Ratushnyi, an activist of the Save Old Kyiv movement, and Svitlana Povaliaeva, a writer and journalist. When Roman was 15 years old, he started the Revolution of Dignity. The boy was one of the first participants: on the night of November 30, he was beaten by Berkut (riot police) along with other students.
After the Maidan, Roman Ratushnyi became involved in activism; most of his activities concerned illegal buildings in Kyiv. In 2018, Ratushnyi founded the Let’s Protect Protasiv Yar initiative, which became a full-fledged NGO within a year. The members of the organization fight against the construction in the green zone of Protasiv Yar.
Roman’s death was a colossal tragedy for many people. His body was brought to Kyiv on June 16, where his motorcade passed through the legendary Protasiv Yar and locals greeted the Hero with flowers, candles and Ukrainian flags.
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