Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Postcards from Maidan is an art initiative that helps facilitate the psychological rehabilitation and physical recovery of patients. Artists visit the wounded and use drawings as a storytelling mechanism of Maidan. The wounded are later presented with the drawings. This is the story of one Maidan protester. In this case, the artist is a photographer.
Mykhaylo Amrosiyev, 20 years old, gunshot wound
“I’ve been on Maidan since the very first day. I organized actions at my university, the KNEU [Kyiv National Economic University]. Many universities carried out reprisals, and forbade their students to go to Maidan. But the Rectors at such patriotic universities as Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and Shevchenko University were with their students. The Rector of our university remained neutral: we were not forbidden nor were we released to go to Maidan. Some students were afraid to go, because they thought their names would be recorded and then they’d flunk their finals. The first initiative that I organized was the March for European integration. At first, I hoped that there would between 100 to 200 people. I recruited the most active people from the Faculties, and we took action. We met with representatives of other universities practically anywhere, even in hallways. Each of them also created a strike committee. About 1,500 students gathered for the march. We went up to the Bohomolets [medical university], it was quite sad – their professors kept the classes closed, and would not let them out for the actions. They had this order issued by their Rector. They [the university leadership] threatened to fail them at finals. We came over and asked for the Rector, who did not appear, and they immediately shut down the fence in front of us. But after all, there are 1,500 students at the university. The students waved at us from behind the windows. One of the students jumped out the window and ran towards us. The guard grabbed him. We tried to “raise a cheer” to them three times. Then we went to the KPI [Kyiv Polytechnic Institute], and they were already assembled there. There were from 1,000 to 1,500 of them [students]. Then we went to Taras Shevchenko park where about 15,000 students had gathered already. The columns heading to Maidan were trailing out the park, and on Maidan there was already nowhere to stand. Remember the girl from Lutsk, who turned the portrait of Yanukovych upside down? She was convicted on two counts: abuse of a national symbol and hooliganism. We did an action with the students from Shevchenko [University] and Drahomanov [University]. We agreed to meet in Shevchenko Park. Why there? Because the court had forbidden to hold rallies there. Together, we amicably took portraits of Klyuyev, Yanukovych, Tabachnyk, Azarov, Zaharchenko, and then turned their portraits in unison and burned them.
After that, I started receiving phone calls. They said they were the police, or someone else. They threatened me and hinted: “You’d better not do this, it will be better for your health this way.” I had to change my phone number. I deleted my Vkontakte profile [social network]. Since I was the organizer at my university, I had the right to vote at Maidan Council [Rada].
Maidan has initially excluded two organizations: “Right Sector” and “Spilna Sprava” [Common Cause]. The Maidan Council did not take them in because they are radicals. I was initially surprised, because Mr. Danylyuk from “Spilna Sprava” is a very famous and a pretty smart person. Why wouldn’t they include them all? Because having such competitors on Maidan would put the opposition at a disadvantage. These monopolists (the Batkivschina-UDAR-Freedom troika) would not even allow Poroshenko on stage because they were so afraid.
Let’s go back to December 1, 2013 on Bankova Street – when we came out, the opposition was not ready to resolve the situation that day. It was the first conflict, a record-breaking number of people came out to protest that day, it was quite possible to take down the government that day, since it wasn’t ready. But the opposition wasn’t ready as well. They came to us on Bankova St., and Poroshenko ran to us and said, “Guys, go to Maidan. Listen to what the opposition leaders are saying to you.”
On that day, the people knew that there would be carnage on Bankova Street. The Korchynsky guys started it all – they were the instigators. But there were also guys from “Right Sector” and the UNA-UNSO, and even some people from Svoboda, however strange that seemed at the time.
The opposition benefited from our participation on the Maidan Council, since we began to establish the student organization, and we also wanted to have our vote like UDAR, as well as Svoboda, and the Automaidan leaders. There are about fifty organizations there, like “The Power of Women” – nobody has seen or heard about them, but they wanted their vote. Initially we (organizers from all higher education establishments) planned to create the SCC – the Student Coordination Council. But it had already collapsed. It was the union of university strike committees. We wanted to operate in Ukraine, but then it all grew into something else, and I realized that many people were doing it not for the idea, but for their future political careers. When a person wants to be a politician, the politicians will find it easy to negotiate with him. I believed until the last minute that something could be changed. Initially, the university leaders had the right of vote. The strike committee chooses a leader; the strike committees are the self-organized groups that communicated through Vkontakte [social] groups, and the leaders knew each other in person. I personally knew the leaders from all the universities. It was very hard to organize ourselves, we slept two hours a day. To organize the acts, we had to share the information through communication channels with all the students. Someone was handing out flyers, someone came into the lecture halls during lectures and transmitted the information.
I believe that you can use illegal methods when all legal avenues have been used and failed.
When I left the SCC, I found out in two weeks that I hade been kicked out from there. Because they saw a video of me on Bankova Street. I had nothing to do with the interior troops; I threw stones at the Berkut riot police. I asked people to throw behind the interior troops, into the Berkut riot police. We had to get through, and we had to seize [the government buildings]. Then, there was another problem – they turned off the cell service. Everyone was shouting, “Where is Maidan? Why are there so few of us?” Everyone thought that Maidan was storming both the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] and the Cabinet of Ministers – all administrative buildings. We had this idea, but then these demons from the opposition came out on Bankova and blocked the road in three rows, to prevent everyone from entering. They closed the passageway, supposedly because there were “provocateurs” there.
Immediately, I could discern a “titushka [hired thug].” Two words, and I will be able to tell. I have enough of two words to understand. We had a conflict with the self-defense troops – when we were walking [captured] “titushky,” the self-defense began to take them away from us. We would not give them up, and the conflict began. After all, the self-defense did take them from us, and I was wondering what they would do with them. They took them to the stage [on Maidan] and a man in a bulletproof vest asked a “titushok,” “Who paid you?” Who does this questioning in front of a crowd? They should do it like cops do, one-on-one. They practically offered [“titushky”] tea. The titushkas lied that they were only passersby and they were released; so they ran back to Mariinsky Park [the titushka holdout].
People who say, “We are against violence,” are correct, if there is another way. But what can be achieved when “titushky” just jump out on people and beat them? We need to protect people.
They dismembered bodies in the tents located at Mariinsky Park. “Titushki” did it. They cut off their heads. At first, people were beaten, and then, half-dead they dumped them on top of each other into the tents. Some people suffocated and died. Have you seen those ovens they used to burn the the bodies in?
I was all covered in blood, and saw a cop. By Balashov’s office. A young cop, all in blood, was just sitting there. I saw that he did not attack people. I felt sorry for him, so I helped him out. I took him by the arm and took him to the porch, to hide him. Berkut riot police on a nearby street shot me in the back. I have not told this to the TV channels. They hit me, and I was lying unconscious there, open my eyes, and they are standing two meters [6.5 ft] away from me. I realized that if they saw me breathing, they would finish me with rifle butt or with something else. On adrenaline, I ran in the opposite direction and fell into the crowd of people, between Berkut policemen. I woke up among the dead men. Next to me was a dead Berkut policeman and another protester. I was filmed by a cameraman who saw that I was still breathing. I woke up at the hospital.”
Artist Sasha Kurmaz met with Mykhaylo at the Kyiv City Clinical Hospital #17. After the protester had been released from hospital, Sasha met with Mykhaylo at his home, recorded their conversation, and took the photos.
Postcards from Maidan is an art initiative that helps bring support through truthful images of Ukrainian protests in different regions of the country, and also tells the stories of people who suffered during events on Maidan this winter in Kyiv.
The project consists of two elements:
#postcards from maidan
The Postcards Project contains a series of cards based on works of contemporary artists. Artists who participated in protests on Maidan create works reflecting on the events and as a message to fellow citizens. These cards may serve as support and a means to bring the spirit of protest to one’s relatives and friends in any part of Ukraine or the world. They are distributed on Maidan and available to everyone for free download in a format suitable for printing.
#stories from maidan
In The Stories Project, contemporary artists visit hospitals, talk to people [protesters/activists] and work on an artistic embodiment of their stories from Maidan. Activists receive these works as gifts by which to remember the events. This project is documented; the stories may later be used by various media. Through social networks, with the help of journalists, volunteers and the project’s website, organizers of this project help to recover lost contacts and enable protesters to learn about each other.
Postcards from Maidan was founded by Kadygrob_Taylor Platform for Contemporary Art, an independent non-profit.