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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Celebrates 3rd Year With Hope

KIEV -- Ukrainians poured into the street Wednesday on the third anniversary of the country's proclamation of independence and their new president expressed hope that their lives, blighted by economic hardship, would soon improve.

Forgetting more than two years of decline that has cast millions into poverty, families strolled down boulevards in brilliant sunshine, sampling food from kiosks or admiring street stalls.

Overhead hung banners emblazoned with quotes from Ukrainian writers and portraits of the hetmans who ruled Ukraine from the 16th to 18th centuries, the last long period of independence before seven decades of Soviet rule.

"We hope to change the situation for the better," President Leonid Kuchma told reporters after laying a wreath by a monument to celebrated 19th-century poet Taras Shevchenko.

"The road on which we are traveling is an uneven one. There will be much turbulence. But we are standing on the bridge and I am sure we will keep a firm hold of the rudder."