Photos by Kristina Podobed
On January 19, 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, they believe, revealed himself as Jesus on that day tons of years ago.
Odessa is an 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 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 was 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.
This guy did not manage the cold as well as the other walruses and fainted.
See more of Kristina's work here