Kiev monastery a sanctuary for the bloodied and bruised

Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:55pm EST
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By Matt Robinson

KIEV (Reuters) - The injured, bloodied and bandaged, lay beneath icons and candles on the floor of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery.

The combat fatigues and green helmets of some recalled the primitive field hospitals of distant wars.

As the death toll climbed from Ukraine's bloodiest day in two decades of independence, the wounded sought refuge on Wednesday beneath the bell tower of a sympathetic Kiev church.

Volunteers sorted through medical supplies - iodine, gauze, bandages - brought in bags and boxes by anxious residents of the capital. Doctors tended to the wounded on beds in a side-building of the monastery complex, while people hurried through the main doors clutching bottled water, bread, ham and processed cheese.

It was a scene of quiet determination and order, a short walk uphill from the black smoke and violence of Independence Square, crucible of a geopolitical battle between Russia and the West.

"Our men are on the barricades, so we just want to help," said a volunteer, who gave only her first name, Yulia, and said she was a lawyer.

"I can't work in this country; it's all about bribes, everywhere there are bribes, and I've had enough," she said.

In three months of protest since President Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on a deal with the European Union, St. Michael's has emerged as spiritual protector of those who would bring him down.   Continued...

People rest inside Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral (St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery), which serves as a temporary shelter and a first-aid post for anti-government protesters, in Kiev February 19, 2014. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili