Pro-Russian Rebels Parade Captive Soldiers as Ukraine Celebrates 23rd Independence Day

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By Athena Yenko | August 25, 2014 2:02 PM EST

Pro-Russian rebels had reportedly paraded their captive Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk while Kyiv celebrates its 23rd Independence Day.

Soldiers salute as they parade on Tochka-U tactical rocket complexes during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in the centre of Kiev August 24, 2014.

The parading of the hapless-looking soldiers happened at the centre of Donetsk.

People who are watching throw bottles at the soldiers while shouting "fascists" at them.

A spokesman from Ukraine's defence ministry condemned the parade, saying that organisers cannot be considered human as nothing is holy for them.

Meanwhile, in Kyiv, Ukraine was celebrating its 23rd independence from the Soviet Union in 1992. People were holding flags and had garlands of flowers on their heads.

This is the first time since 2009 that Ukraine held a military parade.

The highlight of the parade was the "newly purchased" arsenal of ballistic missiles and ammunitions carried by military personnel.

In a speech, President Petro Poroshenko said that the government spent $3bn military investment as a new "Ukrainian army has been born in heavy and exhausting fighting over the last six months."

"Never before in 23 years, was a day as glorious as today. Never before were people as sincere as today, waving Ukrainian flags from every window and from every balcony - despite the hardship that our country is currently undergoing," Mr Poroshenko said.

However, citizens expressed their contradicting views about the parade.

Some think that the parade was needed, while others think it was untimely as there are civilians dying at the crossfire between separatists and the Ukraine army.

For Olena Kucher, a PhD student at the Institute of International Relations, the parade is important to display that Ukraine can defend itself and shall not surrender to anyone.

Yulia Pinchakovska, a lawyer from Lviv, said that the parade has a different meaning now as it raises the patriotic morale of the people and the sense of unity.

The members of the volunteer battalions beg to differ as they had been excluded from leading the parade.

 "We risk our lives for our country on a daily basis. To not be able to march alongside our fellow fighters and countrymen is disrespectful," a member who spoke in anonymity told the Kyiv Post.

Anna Piddubna, a student from Crimea, said that the parade was inappropriate as all the equipment should be used in the anti-terrorist operation and not exhibited on the parade.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed the Australian Government's condemnation of the breach of Ukraine's sovereignty by the convoy of Russian trucks which entered Ukraine without permission.

"It is hypocritical of Russia to claim a humanitarian motive as it is directly responsible for the ongoing instability and conflict in Eastern Ukraine," Bishop said in a statement.

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(Photo: Reuters / Gleb Garanich)
Soldiers salute as they parade on Tochka-U tactical rocket complexes during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in the centre of Kiev August 24, 2014.
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