25 Years of Independence: Ukraine sheds Soviet past on 25th year of independence - AFP

19:50 Aug. 23, 2016

Ukraine sheds Soviet past on 25th year of independence - AFP

Rehearsal of the military parade in Kyiv (UNIAN photo)

Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance chief Volodymyr Vyatrovych said Wednesday's Independence Day holiday will commemorate most people's desire "to get rid of the totalitarian past"

Ukraine marks the 25th anniversary of its freedom from Kremlin rule Wednesday with moves to sweep away its totalitarian past and embrace a European future while grappling with its tense relations with Russia.

A nation that once served as a geopolitical bridge between Moscow and the West is now the source of a deep and dangerous rift.

Wednesday's commemorations take place against a backdrop of bitter recrimination and warnings only last week by President Petro Poroshenko that the country could face a "full-scale" Russian invasion.

More than 9,500 people have been killed and some two million forced from their homes in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

And Ukraine's south has lost its strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea -- annexed by Russia on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

The flare points are a legacy of a 2014 popular uprising that ousted Ukraine's Moscow-backed leader and left Putin incensed at losing the country he had hoped to enlist in his own Kremlin-led bloc.

Russia's reprisals prompted Ukraine to adopt a decommunisation law that banned Soviet symbols and condemned "totalitarian regimes" -- a measure to burnish its pro-Western credentials and take a symbolic shot at Moscow.

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