- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

KIEV — Oleksander Nalivayiko stood under the freezing sky handing out orange ribbons to passers-by. People eagerly took them, some stretching out their arms so he could tie the ribbon around their forearms.

“I’ve been here from the beginning,” said the 21-year-old student from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “I’ve participated in the demonstrations, have gotten sick, but I won’t leave until our new president, [Viktor] Yushchenko, is inaugurated. The tent city will stand until then.”

For residents here, Kiev’s sprawling tent city has come to symbolize Ukraine’s Orange Revolution as much as the hundreds of thousands of people who clogged the city’s central square for more than two weeks recently to protest rigged presidential elections.

When necessary, they have been called on to block the entrance to government buildings, as they did last week when president-elect Mr. Yushchenko asked them to ensure Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the election, did not enter the Cabinet building to attend a meeting.

The protesters have provided entertainment to residents and visitors by posting anti-government poetry and slogans and chatting with passers-by. Mostly, however, the camp residents have stood as a reminder that Ukraine’s revolution is ongoing.

Mr. Yushchenko’s inauguration is tentatively planned for next Friday, but the Central Election Commission cannot certify his victory until Mr. Yanukovych exhausts all appeals. Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected one of his appeals. However, the Yanukovych campaign has said his main appeal would be filed only after the election commission announces the final results.

Mr. Yanukovych, who had given up hope of getting a favorable ruling, submitted his resignation as prime minister last week, and the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, accepted it Wednesday. Parliament kicked Mr. Yanukovych out of office in a Dec. 1 no confidence vote, but until this week, Mr. Yanukovych said he was still prime minister.

At its height, the tent city, which spans half the length of Kiev’s central boulevard, Khreshchatyk, comprised more than 3,000 tents. Inhabitants received special passes to show they lived there. The tent city established a security brigade, which guarded residents round-the-clock.

Today, many of the smaller tents have been replaced with large structures like those found in the army, heated with wood-burning stoves, and can house as many as 34 people.

Many of the inhabitants are from outside Kiev, people who spontaneously left their homes to take part in the demonstrations. Within several days, many were short on clean clothing.

“The people of Kiev have taken very good care of us,” said 29-year-old Ruslan Tokarenko from Zhytomyr, a town west of Kiev. Locals donated clothing and food to the city.

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