Thank you, Maidan…

1915054_138625382824043_5784643_nBy Evgeni Yakunov
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Thank you, Maidan…

…a group of people on the stage, not yet dismantled by the communal workers, was still holding strong. A tall broad-shouldered beauty, Bozhena, played the guitar and sang songs and – a cappella – the anthem. It was beautiful and sad. Her colleague called the people onto the stage, to remain there all night and thus to preserve the small rebellious flap of territory that was left of Maidan. Not paying attention to them, the students (girls from the Sunday “clean-up” clearing Maidan) dismantled and dragged heavy fence sections from under the stage towards waiting trucks. Maybe they were the same students who first came to the Independence monument at the end of November of last year…

Opposite the conservatory the two remaining tents were living out their last hours and minutes – their inhabitants were voluntarily carrying out and loading double-decker bunks from unplaned boards, refrigerators, fans, acid batteries, spring mattresses and other Maidan belongings onto orange KrAZ trucks. On Institutskaya [Street] a puny little man in camouflage was rooting in the depths of the barricades, loading copper wire and other metal into a linen bag to hand in to the scrap merchant. Cool jeeps of Kyiv celebrities hurried along the newly-swept Kreschatyk

That is how they were clearing up Maidan for good. Or – cleaning it. Depending on whom you ask. It was sad. Not that I believed it was all a betrayal, that the current government continues the work of Yanukovich (as the last defenders of Maidan were shouting from the stage). But in some sense I understood them, too. Sure, only the marginal elements remained here. But many of them stood shoulder to shoulder with us this winter. Perhaps, then, this was their hour, when the homeless, the unemployed, the neglected street urchins, for the first time felt as citizens, and realised their necessity to society and to their country? How hard they will find it to get back again to whom they were before…

With each dismantled barricade and folded tent, the square loses its familiar landmarks. And now you cannot immediately figure out where you stood with an umbrella under pouring rain in the first evenings of the protest, where you saw the traces of bullets and bloodstains on the pavement, when one sniper bullet cut short the lives of two people at once, where in the smoke of the burning Trade Unions building they were loading a dying Self-Defense volunteer onto a pick-up truck…

It is probably as difficult for a fighter to leave his trench, which he got used to living in, which he dug out himself with a trench shovel under a rain of bullets and missiles, which more than once saved his life and on the parapet of which remained the traces of the blood of his slain comrades.

But it is impossible to spend your whole life in one trench, sooner or later you have to go over the top. Especially as the front has moved far to the East.

You have noticed that today in Kyiv there are few yellow and blue ribbons on lapels and not that many balconies have flags flying from them. That is not because Kyiv became less patriotic.  Ribbons, flags, cars decorated with the national symbols – they are like flags on the operational map of the general staff – they mark the front line. Today is runs through Odessa, Kharkiv, Mariupol… and already – through Sloviansk, where 150 patriots yesterday gathered a town council, their own little Maidan.

Yes, the lustration has not been carried out yet, the government still contains mostly the same people and many things have not been done yet. Maybe even, nothing, of what the Maidan sotnias demanded. But Maidan will never be able to achieve it, because it was never a self-sufficient phenomenon. It was just a weapon. And a weapon, as the hero of a famous novel, Louis Boujold, said – “is just an instrument forcing the enemy to change their point of view. The battleground is the mind. The rest is just a sham.” Maidan changed us inside, and that is all it was capable of.

I could have said the standard: “Maidan is dead, long live Maidan!” or “Maidan will never die, because it is inside our soul.” But I will say it differently. I will say: “Farewell, Maidan!”

That is how we say farewell to our youth. To the youth of our great struggle. A time when, it seemed, we would be able to conquer freedom and independence only if a million of us took to the streets! Because we deeply believed that our strength lay in walking unarmed against the truncheons of “Berkut,” and with plywood shields against the assault rifles of snipers – could they really shoot at their own people?

“Lord, how naive we were!..”

Now we have our own machine guns and even tanks. But to defend freedom and independence, we have to be ready not to fear “Grad” rockets, ballistic missiles and, maybe, tactical nuclear weapons…

Only now have we stepped into adulthood. Only now we are beginning to understand the price of the issue.

On the wall of the Heavenly Hundred, near the Ukrainian House, the last name on the list is that of Vladimir Rybak, an MP from Horlivka, brutally tortured to death by Russian mercenaries. He did not die on Maidan, but his act is the continuation of sacrifice that was born on Maidan. And the Heavenly Hundred has somehow imperceptibly transformed into the Heavenly Battalion and a pain in my heart aches for the realisation that this is far from over.

Those who grew up went to the war. Those who were left on the former Maidan, remained stuck in childhood. Operetta Cossacks, Sotniaks of non-existent Sotnias, surrounding themselves with aluminium shields of their deceased or front-bound comrades. You feel sorry for them, as you feel sorry for all men who do not grow up in time. Maidan ended, now they have to find themselves all over again – for some, while shedding blood, some – sweat, earning for the family and for the defense of the Fatherland.

And yet – thank you, Maidan! It was good with you…

…the KrAZ with the belongings of the last Maidan tent rolls down the Vladimirsky descent. In the back are three tanned torsos. The wind waves the yellow-blue flag and the carefully cropped forelocks. The boys smile and cry out, raising their arms to the sky: “Glory to Ukraine!”

Kyiv citizens, walking down Vladimirsky, accompany them with applause.

Source: Dmitry Chekalkin, FB


This entry was posted in "Voices" in English, English, Eyewitness stories, Maidan Diary, Pictures and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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