Odessa Went Bathing
On the 19th of January, Ukraine's Orthodox Christians celebrated the ancient holiday of Epiphany the same way they always do: by going down to the Black Sea for a mass winter swim. People from all over the country flock to its icy waters in the name of God, who supposedly revealed himself through Jesus on that same day tons of years ago.
Odessa is a historically recreational city. Locals are known as Ukraine’s biggest hedonists, which might be the reason why they are also considered the least politically active folk in the country. This year, while the streets of Kiev were being consumed by rioting protesters, the "Walruses of Odessa" spent Epiphany trying to set a mass-swimming record down at Langeron beach.
The Walruses are a local club, formed by people who believe that controlled exposure to the cold strengthens the body. Officially, 750 people joined them to dive into the Black Sea that day – unofficially, the number was put at 2,000. The event was supported by the Young Regions Party, a junior subdivision of the Party of Regions. Which is the one headed up by recently ousted President, Viktor Yanukovych.
These pictures show a few of the last moments of peace before our country faced the true nature of its criminal government.
Text by Ira Lupu