MH17: Dutch victims remembered

NICK MILLER
Last updated 11:04 19/07/2014
Dutch embassy
Getty Images

A SEA OF FLOWERS: People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine.

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Here there is a sunflower. There, a stark printed sign under waterproof plastic declaring "Putin is murderer".

Here, a baby-blue elephant toy, grinning reassuringly in the field of fading flowers and candles. There, "Poetin Doodt Kinderen" - Putin kills children.

This Friday evening a semicircle of more than 100 Kiev natives stands, unnervingly silent, around the rapidly growing memorial.

Some leave, others join - middle aged couples, young couples in their Friday evening best, a family, a toddler on a tricyle, a baby in her mother's arms.

One young woman crosses herself after she gently lays a naked yellow rose on the pile. Another kneels and turns her face from the media photographer.

They stand under umbrellas against the thundery showers, the sky a threat.

The embassy sits in a corner of a busy city square but here, on Friday night, at a time when you would have though most would be heading to bed, a vigil of sorts is taking place. Their hands are folded in prayer or contemplation or thought.

"Ukraine is praying with you," says one sign among the flowers.

"Deepest condolences to the victims,' says another.

And a plaintive, rushed "Europe - isn't that enough? DO SMTH".

Many of the candles have died in the rain.

A half-hour walk away up a cobbled hill is a site where this sort of symbolism became something more.

In Maidan's central square, the barbed wire and tents of the protest movement still stand. The political heart of new Kiev has become a lingering Occupy. These demonstrators who remain in the makeshift tent city are unnerving the government, not reassuring them.

But the city is not yet ready to forget the brutality and death of February on this site. So much blood was spilled here, and there is not yet the political will to wipe away the stain.

The square's pathways mined for their bricks lie unrepaired and everywhere there are piles of tyres, old barricades still strikingly pungent with the smoke of the fires. It still feels like a war zone, but one that shoppers and Friday night strollers pick their way through.

Scarred Kiev is hours away from the current conflict zone.

But now Kiev's anger is aimed eastwards. They are convinced that pro-Russian fighters downed MH17, with Russian support. They have long called the separatists 'terrorists' and now they have an horrific act of terror to pin on them.

Here, teams are beginning to gather from around the world. On Friday evening Australia's representatives began to arrive, including consular officials and Australia's ambassador to Poland and Ukraine Jean Dunn, who immediately went into meetings to begin the work that needs to be done.

Interpol is coming to set up a team to support the recovery of bodies.

Teams from the US, UK and the Netherlands are on their way to repatriate bodies, assist the bereaved, and begin an investigation into who was behind this terrible act of killing.

But here in Kiev, there are few who doubt the answer.

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- FFX Aus

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