Chopin, Beatles echo over Kiev barricade

This Feb. 7, 1964 file photo shows The Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison arriving in New York at John F. Kennedy airport. (AP Photo, File)

KIEV: Activists took to a piano perched on Kiev's most famous anti-government barricade Monday, playing Chopin, the national anthem and the Beatles' "Let it Be" as riot police looked on.

Eurovision song contest winner Ruslana joined others in gently stroking the instrument -- painted in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag -- as it sat delicately poised on a barrier separating protesters from police.

Stationed on the other side of the grimy mound of debris, compiled of bags of snow and burnt cars, riot officers sought to rival the musical offensive with one of their own, cranking up the volume of a sound system from which Russian pop songs blared out.

Ukraine has been riven by chaos since November when the authorities rejected a key EU trade pact in favour of closer ties with Russia, stunning pro-Western parts of the population who rose up in protest.

Kiev's iconic Independence Square, which has drawn the largest demonstrations, now resembles a war zone, with protesters in army fatigues and bullet-proof vests patrolling an area full of tents and burning log fires.

The barricade where the piano was stationed is on Grushevsky Street, where demonstrators clashed with police at the end of January in violence that left several dead and hundreds hurt.

Similar concerts were organised in nine other cities in Ukraine on Monday, including Lviv in the west and Donetsk in the pro-Russian east.

"The piano has become the symbol of the revolution, of peaceful resistance," said Markiyan Matsekh, an activist who initiated the musical campaign.

"There are different opinions in our country and we must unite around sure-fire values such as art."





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