Routine of Kiev Maiden

by Slava Tsukerman

The confrontation between Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people in Kiev Maidan and all over the country has gone on for almost four months. Despite temperatures at times as low as minus 22, the Maidan protest life became routine.  Russian language Internet is full of information about this life and about the people of Maidan. I’d like to acquaint you with some of this information, with the stories, that impressed me this week most of all.

Let’s start from three short stories, told by people in Maidan to the corespondent from site:

Andrei Chernigov, 26. two months in Maidan,  a member of Maidan self defence, a medical worker in his ordinary life:

“Was it scary when we fought with the police? No, when you act, it’s not scary. I am against Yanukovych, because we have low wages, poverty. Yes, I understand that the association with the EU does not mean that everything will become good and wages rise. First there will be bad and hard years, yes, harder than it is now. We need a little time. And then things will get better. What I want most of all? To end all of it. But we will stand here until the end.”

Bogdan, 25, from Kiev,two months in Maidan, a cook, educated as chemical engineerand Julia, 25, from Rovno, also two months in Maidan, university educated as a philosopher with a specialization in foreign literature, unemployed:

“We met here in Maidan and got married. This is very important in Ukraine. It all happened spontaneously. A week ago we met a priest who came from Frankfurt; he was to leave in a day. This priest agreed to marry us. We thought it would be something very intimate, but when we entered the columned hall of administration, there was a red carpet over there, and the crowd of the members of self-defense met us. How many people? I do not know… more than a thousand, probably. Somebody was playing piano.

“One of the volunteers, a makeup artist, did my make-up. A sympathetic businessman brought me a wedding dress from his store, also free of charge… And then we went to the barricades to the guys and we were all drinking champagne – it was the first time then it was allowed to violate Maidan’s Prohibition.”

Anton, 29 years , from Dnepropetrovsk (a Eastern Ukrainian city that is presented by government propaganda as one of the most pro–government), two months in Maidan, member of self defence,  a teacher of a foreign language at a high school in his ordinary life:

“In the battle I was helping journalists and doctors. Back then I thought that violence is wrong. What I did in particular? Guarded journalists from those who threw stones and Molotov cocktails. They attacked the press and ‘Berkut’ (the police forces) right away opened fire on reporters.

“I helped medics to pull out the wounded and those who became ill from the gas. What I remember most of all was the kind support that we have had. From the very first days people from entire Kiev were coming to us – grandfathers and grandmothers were bringing cookies, old shavers, home cooked food, saying: ‘Thank you for standing here for us.’

“I can not say that I am particularly pleased with what I’m doing in Defence – guarding etc., but not so many people came here from my town, so I understand that no one else would be standing here instead of me.

“I’m not tired, but I want to go home. At home I have my grandmother, grandfather, friends. How long shall we stay here?”

Russian service of BBS published on it’s site a video report about life of an ordinary Kiev citizen, a restaurant manager Anna Goloktionova.

Anna states that starting from December Kiev restaurants are almost empty.  According to Anna her usual clients are representatives of the middle class, and those who are not in Maidan, are preferring to stay home. The weekend she was interviewed she had three reservations and only one was fulfilled. Those were people who live in the building next to the restaurant.

Anna: “We live without defining borders. Those who are in Maidan, surviving minus 22F, and those who live seemingly usual life of Kiev. No borders in space and no borders in time. Nobody knows what is going to happen. The only choice we can have is to live moment by moment here and now.”

The BBS video is based on the interview in Russian, but the images of this short film speak for themselves. One can see Anna’s ordinary life, where walk between tents of Maidan is as routine as walk through subway. I invite those interested in learning more about life in Kiev today to watch this video.

This week a lot of new videos about life of today’s Kiev appeared at YouTube.

Two of them especially impressed me.

One is a 5 min long film about piano players in Maidan. Musical action “Tools of Freedom”, involving virtuoso piano players and pop singers, was launched in nine cities of Ukraine. Ninety percent of the film, with exeption of the short interview with Ukrainian star singer Ruslana, has no text and images are striking:

[youtube o0OHpc6zXdQ]

I have left to the lat the video which impressed me the most with it’s unmistakably internationalist character. Polish performers dance in Kiev’s streets with soundtrack of American song about happiness by Pharrell Williams. For centuries Poles were considered the worst enemies of Ukrainian nationalists. Now everything is changed.
What do Ukrainians need to feel happy?

The video ends with interviews of Ukrainians in the streets. English subtitles are provided.

[youtube 7B5AXBFeRLM]

Updated: February 15, 2014 — 7:24 am © 2016