Voices of the Revolution / 3

“I am here because this country must change. All the corruption, unfair trials, bribery, it all must go away.”
~Liudmila Lebed, demonstrator

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“Maidan” carved into is stick

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It’s depressing to me how many westerners are totally clueless about what is really going on in Ukraine and why it is important to us. These brave people deserve our unqualified support, and by “us” I mean the governments of the US and the EU nations.

That’s why, after weeks of vacillation, I was very glad to see both the US and the EU publicly declare their support for the Ukrainian opposition. It looks like Barack Obama has finally given up on his “reset of relations” with Russia. Good riddance.

Aside from it being the right thing to do, it is most definitely in our own interests to prevent Vladimir Putin from reconstituting the Soviet Union, albeit under a different name.

But my fear is that if it really looks like Yanukovych is about to fall, Putin will order in his tanks and APCs to make sure that he doesn’t. Remember, Putin is KGB through and through. The only reason he would hesitate to give the order to invade would be fear of the West’s response. We need to make it unmistakably clear to him that invading Ukraine would have disastrous economic and political consequences not only for Russia as a whole, but also for him and his cronies personally.

Moving a couple of US aircraft carrier battle groups into the Black Sea wouldn’t hurt either. People like Vladimir Putin only respect one thing: strength, The best way to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine is to make sure they know they’ll get their butts kicked if they try it.  DANRAM, 12.02.2014

tumblr_inline_n0tlzhMzDB1suumca“I haven’t seen neo-Nazis, I haven’t heard anti-Semites, I have heard the contrary – an incredibly mature movement, incredibly determined and very deeply liberal … I think the ambition of this Ukrainian movement is much bigger. What I hear in the Maidan is a willingness to revitalize the European dream, to restore its content, give it life. When people say ‘Europe’ here it isn’t a vague word, it means citizenship, it means rule of law, it means increasing freedom. It’s a Europe which we too often lose the meaning of in Western Europe, but here in Maidan they are rediscovering its meaning,”
– Bernard Henri Levy, French intellectual and author, February 9th, 2014

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A fallen hero’s boots in memorial on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv.

A ‘Democratic protestor’ stands at the frontline in the Kiev standoff. Each group takes 8 hr shifts in groups huddled behind high walls of blackened sandbags, tires and burnt out shells of cars and trucks. I ask a man who speaks English closeby- ‘What will happen here’?- ‘We will not move till the president goes – and we will fight with our lives if they attack again’- tomorrow the president returns to work after sick leave. One amusing thing here – the protestors have placed a huge flat screen TV on top of one barricade wall and are playing them [the riot police] cartoons! The police who might number 100 -that I can see – are pumping out loud pro-nationalist songs and stand behind shields.
Feb. 2, 2014 Photographer Giles Clarke is a social documentary photographer based in New York City known for his work in Haiti, Bhopal, and with the Occupy movement

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Inna Taran is just 18 and already an active protester.

She looked frustrated as she sat in a café on Independence Square, warming up after spending an afternoon at Hrushevskiy Street.

Her big hazel eyes filled with tears as she talked about how
the protest has changed her.

“You know, my friends dreamed to go to Oxford or build a career and I’ve always just wanted a family and three children, and even thought of names for them. But they just ruined my dream on Nov. 30,” she said, referring to the first time police violently dispersed peaceful protesters from Independence Square.

Taran was among those beaten that night. After that she had to undergo surgery to remove part of one of her kidneys, due to the beating. “I still have another one, so I can afford being here,” she smiled bitterly.

Taran said she has been coming to the protest every day since she left the hospital. “God knows I have never hated anyone, but now I do and I do so hard,” she says.

The young woman believes that women should be standing in the front lines, and says she would do it herself.

“If I don’t get beaten, someone else will in my place,” she said. “But what makes me better than anyone else at the fire line?”
Source

Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, February 28, 2014

Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, February 28, 2014

I am Dutch but partly living in Ukraine and partly in The Netherlands. My wife and the rest of my family is Ukrainian. I was last week again a few days on Maidan. This I want to share with you with great respect for the people who show how democracy must find its way to this country:

The row en route to Maidan from different angles and with different capabilities has been made: it’s very easy to be able to drive right up to the first barricade: By Taxi and by Metro: you can do everything perfectly and even the shops in the hallways downstairs and near the metro area are just open.  However, parts on the sides of the stairs are with loads of barbed wire. There are young men from the “permanent residents” [of Maidan] sitting and talking in the narrow passage at the barricade, warming themselves by a wood stove and no one takes notice of you.

It’s just a coming and going of civilians who come to Maidan. What I especially noticed: the streets and the square are clean and swept, the rubbish is orderly, separated together in bags and the tents of “permanent residents” in the square are largely shielded with pallets and they do not want you to go there.

Many people take pictures, so it seems that the whole has become a major tourist attraction. Lots of places selling all banners, scarves, etc. to the pins of veterans from World War II too.
In many places there are boxes in which money is collected and where a guard is at state, face covered and not recognizable.

Sometimes older people enter into a conversation with a
“permanent resident” of Maidan.
The talks are normal, quiet and there is a neat way to answer the questions.

It looks all quite normal to me and my wife when we walk in there and the only thing I was asked in a proper way not to do, is to take a picture of the portraits of the killed persons whose pictures hang in a kind of memorial place.

It is organized and there are portable toilets. Cooking is done in several places in old kitchen/cooking wagons from the army. The present (albeit gorgeous) statues are intact, not plastered with slogans but only decorated with flags and signs with text/symbols.

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The photographs of where “I‘m at a barricade” is not so much to show, “I was there” but rather to show how high they have been made: at least 5 feet tall and consist of anything that has been dragged onto it.

My wife and I had dinner in a cozy restaurant on the edge of the square, just opened. In the afternoon there are not very many people. In the afternoon and evening there will be more people that flow into the square, full again. On stage all kinds of vocalists, and is communicated as many days in a row is done. The Berkut stands at the distance, “at rest,” and protects government buildings as it has done since the beginning.

In many places within the camp are kitchens and everything is heated with wood, which is present in very large quantities. The smell of burning wood pulls into your clothes and hangs like a cloud over Maidan, you take it home.

On the whole square and surrounding area, I did not meet or see a man or encounter a woman under the influence of alcohol.

The atmosphere is quiet. From conversations it shows that they certainly remain vigilant and have no plans to leave.

My wife and I have gone back to the subway, and home. The hryvna loses value and therefore we have higher costs for normal life, but oh, the metro is only 2 hryvnas per person. At home we look at it on the television. There is much about the state of affairs on Maidan, and of course politics on multiple channels.

I do not want to hide my real name becouse I am proud of those people on Maidan!

Regards, Bob Wouda, Submitted to Voices of Ukraine, 13.02.2014  

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To understand how truly unfortunate the situation is over here, consider that wearing yellow and blue in any configuration – not just a ribbon from Maidan, but a little tie on your collar, a bracelet, or Ukrainian flags stuck to your car – outside of the protected circle around Independence Square – can get you hurt. Roaming squads of men paid by the government look for the colors. This is not a separatist symbol, or an inflammatory message – it is the Ukrainian flag. Ukrainians cannot wear their own flag outside of protected areas without fear.

Imagine, as an American, if you couldn’t wear the USA flag in certain areas without fear of attack. This is the situation in Kyiv now.

“If the state flag is a banner of resistance, if the state anthem is a song of protest, then the country is occupied.” ~Alexander Roitburd

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Western observers and interlocutors must never forget that when dealing with Yanukovych and his associates they are dealing with dyed-in-the wool mafia capos who emerged victorious in the Donbas region of Ukraine after viscous gangland wars in the early and mid ’90’s. Dozens and dozens of local businessmen and politicians were murdered – the gangsters who survived now run Ukraine.

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Yanukovych has greatly increased his grip on power-‘fiddling’ the constitution and by appointing ruthless loyalists from his home region in law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, tax collection and customs agencies, He has appointed Donbas cronies in far-flung oblasts across the country as powerful regional governors.

Maidan activists in Kyiv have in no way weakened, and the president and government have done little to establish any dialogue, so a dangerous stand-off is currently in place, whilst a deep unpredictable economic crisis in the country is deepening day by day.  LEmko, 12.02.2014

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When one of my acquaintances from Donbass learned in 2004 that Yanukovich intended to run for President, she was horrified – “But he will do to the entire Ukraine what he has done to Donbass.”Thankfully, he didn’t get this chance then and the country had a 5-year respite (as bad as it was with Yuschenko, it was still better than it would have been with Yanukovich, as we can see now), but in 2010 his intentions did not change. And the people of Ukraine have finally gotten fed up with the bunch of thugs and have said: “Enough!”

So, to the very gist of the problem – it’s not about Europe or Russia, it’s about the bandits running the country like a prison gang running a prison. RichardBright, 02.12.2014

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Sergey Fedchuk:
About Russia…
Evening of the 18th. I am escorting a severely beaten fighter from the hospital after his wounds got dressed. A volunteer with a car will take him to a Kiev apartment where good people will take care of him until recovery.
Our dialogue:

I: How did you happen to get worked over so badly?
He: I am the flag bearer for the 33th hundred! On one shoulder I had a bag with “Molotov” and the flag in the other arm.
I: And?
He: I will not drop the flag and will not give it to these bastards! So I fell behind and got cought. By the skin of their teeth, our fighters fought them off and freed me.
I: Where are you from?
He: From Peter (St. Petersburg, Russia).
I: …???? What did you stand here for?
He: For the freedom of Ukraine.
I: And what is our freedom for to you?
He: Without your freedom we won’t be able to free ourselves in a hundred years!!!
I : ….
A lump in my throat. You should have seen Dima. He’s all blue, his face – unrecognizable after the beating. From Peter. He has survived thanks only to his helmet and bulletproof vest. Always I will remember that Russia and Putin are not the same thing!

"The Russians are coming" graffiti in Simferopol next to Crimean Interior Ministry, March 1, 2014

“The Russians are coming” graffiti in Simferopol next to Crimean Interior Ministry, March 1, 2014

Here is the full statement from Putin’s office on his call with Obama on March 1, 2014:

In response to the concern shown by Obama about the plans for the possible use of Russia’s armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, Putin drew attention to the provocative, criminal actions by ultra-nationalists, in essence encouraged by the current authorities in Kiev,” the statement said.
The Russian President underlined that there are real threats to the life and health of Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that if violence spread further in the eastern regions of Ukraine and in Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and those of Russian speakers living there.

World War II started with these words from Hitler:
“More than ten million Germans live in the two states located outside our borders … There can be no doubt that the political separation from the Reich must not result in depriving them of their rights, more precisely, the basic right–to self-determination. For a world power, it’s unbearable to be aware that brothers in race–who are supporting it–are cruelly persecuted and tortured for their desire to be together with the nation, to share its fate. Interests of the German Reich include protection of these Germans living along our borders, but who can not defend their political and spiritual freedom on their own.”   –February 20, 1938 – Adolf Hitler

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March 2, 2014: [Russian troops have invaded Crimea]
The first morning after the declaration of war
(By the way, does everyone remember that [Andrei] Illarionov predicted all of this very clearly?)
Not a drop of fear.
None, of course, for yourself, nor even for all the friends and relatives who are in Kiev.
There is concern for everyone in the military, for the entire last Ukrainian military conscription, for those who are in Donetsk, Crimea, Kharkiv, Kherson, Zaporozhye (I do not worry for the Dnieper – Uncle Benya will solve everything) .
But globally — only a heavy foreboding of difficult, dangerous, but necessary work.
It must be completed without pathos and anguish — calmly and confidently.
Nobody expected, of course, that the post-revolutionary, “the hardest that’s still ahead” – would also mean to liberate Russia from Putin.
But there is a solid–albeit grim–confidence that we can do it.
Only I wish that—gods, don’t let it—none of us had to give his “soul and body” [phrase from the Ukrainian anthem-transl.] also for the freedom of others…

Glory to Ukraine.
Glory to the heroes

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Russian troops surround Ukrainian base Perevalnoye, March 1, 2014

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Ukrainian troops inside base at Perevalnoye, at a stand off with Russian troops, bring a tank to the gate

max seddon ‏@maxseddon: March 1, 2014
Ukrainian base at Perevalnoye surrounded by hundreds of Russian troops. Commander Sergei Storozhenko says the Russians are from Sevastopol. Here’s what the Russians came to Perevalnoe in, for all you war nerds. I count 14 trucks, 6 jeeps, 150 or so troops. Ukrainians have driven a tank to the gates.

Ukrainians troops locked inside their base at Perevalnoe. Surrounded by 100+ Russian troops. Ukrainian commander met Russian counterpart.

Ukrainians troops locked inside their base at Perevalnoe. Surrounded by 100+ Russian troops. Ukrainian commander met Russian counterpart. March 2, 2014 – 02:50.

 

–Isis Wisdom

This entry was posted in "Voices" in English, English, Languages, Maidan Diary, Pictures, Voices of Revolution and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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