Ukraine: St Michael's Cathedral, refuge and field hospital for Kyiv protesters

Ukraine: St Michael's Cathedral, refuge and field hospital for Kyiv protesters
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Up the hill from Maidan or Independence Square, St Michael’s Cathedral has been providing shelter for demonstrators throughout the three-month long protests – never more so than now.

For some it is a haven, providing a chance for some badly-needed rest away from the violence and tension in Kyiv.

For others, protesters injured in the troubles, it is a makeshift hospital.

Volunteer doctors and nurses treat those who have been hurt. The most severe cases are taken to hospital elsewhere in the city.

“There have been a lot wounded. (Their injuries are) grenade fragments, burns, bullet wounds. We provided them with first aid and then we sent to hospital those who needed more extensive treatment,” said Andriy, a doctor.

“I helped treat the wounded and sort the medicines. We have moved the field hospital for the third consecutive time. Each time we have to gather up all the medical equipment and bring it to the new shelter,” said Ira, a young volunteer.

At one stage on Tuesday, police blocked access to St Michael’s but retreated after priests persuaded them to open a corridor from Independence Square.

Several bodies have been brought to the site as well as the wounded.

Protesters originally took refuge in the cathedral at the end of November after police first stormed their camp.

“Every church serves people before (the eyes of) God. And it is the saint’s duty to help people who are in trouble, who are being prosecuted. Especially people who are prosecuted for the truth,” said Father Omelyan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Most of those injured in the violence are now taken to the cathedral.

Part of a complex including a monastery, it was demolished by the Soviets in the 1930s and rebuilt 60 years later after Ukrainian independence.

Its role amid the current turmoil is seen as deeply symbolic.