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Ukraine Rebels Continue Fight, Demand Gov't Reform


KIEV, Ukraine -- Despite freezing temperatures and the threat of more violent clashes, the face-off in Kiev's Independence Square continues.

Fifty-seven-year-old Yevgeniy Sikunov, a highly educated father of five, joined demonstrators on the front lines of this Ukraine showdown.

"I'm here to fight against the evils of my government," Sikunov told CBN News. "I want the president and his entire corrupt and oppressive government gone."

Since November, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets of Kiev demanding government reform.

For more than two weeks, Sikunov has been on Hrushevskoko Street, in the heart of the capital city, where it looks and smells like a war zone.

The moment you enter the area, your clothes begin to smell like smoke. The blackened ground is evidence of the fires that have been burning here for weeks.

Sikunov spends most of his time at the very front of the battle line, watching his so-called "enemy" on the other side of the barricades: Ukraine's elite Special Forces, known as 'Berkut'

"We keep an eye on their movements, how many forces they bring in and out; what kind of equipment they have. We have to be ready," he explained.

Sikunov said the men standing guard on his side are a motley crew from all walks of Ukrainian life.

"We have doctors, engineers, carpenters, businessmen, laborers, ordinary people who want freedom and justice," he said.

They have been here in freezing conditions for months, many of their faces covered in black soot. Many of the demonstrators anticipate a major assault from the government and they are preparing their defense.

A tall barricade is part of their preparation, with anti-government demonstrators spending days filling sand bags with snow. They're readying themselves because they know that 200 yards away are hundreds of Berkuts, fully armed Ukrainian police who are ready to do whatever they're told to do.

Standing between Sikunov's men and the Special Forces are Christians. Everyday, they come not to protest, but to sing and pray for peace. In the background, a police officer with a bullhorn warned them not to come too close.

But the warning didn't scare Nadia Tolkocheva, who tried repeatedly to hand Bible verses to the men in black.

"I have Christ in me. Why should I be afraid?" Christian volunteer Nadia Tolkocheva told CBN News. "I wanted to give our brothers the text of Psalm 91. These men are not our enemy -- they are our brothers, our sons."

Meanwhile, a Christian mother, facing the police, wept for her son who was reportedly killed during violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters.

"For what? For what did you kill my son?" she asked. "And now another son is missing."

On the frontline, Sikunov waved to the Special Forces. At one point, he even motioned for them to take cover at his side. That didn't happen.

For the committed, like Sikunov, the future looks very uncertain and potentially dangerous as whispers of a looming government crackdown fill the air.

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