The Maidan Now
“This is where they shot at them,” the woman says to the young boy in Ukrainian. I was standing a few feet away also looking at the weapons and shields that are now on display of what remains of the Maidan in Kyiv. The little boy looked on silently and so did I. It’s a bit hard to comprehend that the place you are standing was a place of intense violence and chaos a few months earlier, especially when that place is in the center of a capital city and your memory of that place from before was completely different. On February 20, snipers opened fire on protesters. Over 100 people died on the Maidan and today they are referred to as the “Heavenly Hundred.” They were men and woman of all ages, from all regions of Ukraine. They stood for months in the cold protesting for a better life in Ukraine. To me, the Maidan now feels a bit like a large memorial.
Walking around the Maidan was an emotional experience for me. I thought of my grandparents and the choice they made in the 1940s to leave Ukraine. I thought of the lives lost — people my age. So many different ideas and thoughts were crossing my mind all the while looking at a surreal landscape of burnt out buildings and burnt out cars that still remain.
This sign made of bricks reads, “Stop propaganda, there are no fascists here.”
The tent city still remains on the Maidan, but it remains unclear what the protesters want to achieve. Many have boxes asking for donations. I’ve interviewed many people the last few days and some have expressed the sentiment that it is time to pack up the Maidan and go home where the real fight against corruption needs to happen.
This graffiti reads, “Who will be held responsible for Crimea?”
Large signs hang on the Maidan commemorating those killed three months ago today. This evening I interviewed the fiancée of the man pictured in the lower left below.
Leaflets were scatted around the Maidan. This one reads, “Afghanis go fight for Ukraine where there’s a real war, and don’t start a war here with a peaceful people.” This could be referring to the Russians as well as the large population of Afghan war veterans in Ukraine who upheld the Maidan. Remains a bit unclear to me.
This tent reads, “Christ has risen!” Women were going inside to pray at icons. Maidan was supported by many priests and religion is a big aspect of life in Ukraine.
The red-black sign is for the right-wing group Right Sector:
This is a placard for a government building. The now faded spray paint reads, “Revolutionary tribunal.”
“Revolution” spelled out in bricks.
Moltov cocktail made out of a well-known beer, Lvivske, from Western Ukraine.
This graffiti in front of McDonalds reads, “Forever live the memory of the heavenly hundred.”
Some of the writing on the Ukrainian flag below reads, “Nothing has changed.”
A memorial to one of the few women killed in February.
“Ukraine above all” reads the glass booth:
“Ukraine is Europe,” reads a tent from the town of Turka.
The Maidan has also gotten a bit commercialized now. These animals were walking around taking photos with people. They came up to me since I had my big camera out. Below the zebra and panda heads were two young college students studying economics. This is their summer job and they said it is really hot inside the costumes. Their presence raises an interesting question of when does the Maidan go back being a public space (there is a shopping mall right there)? And can it ever really?
You can buy souvenirs from vendors including doormats with the former president’s face. The mat reads, “Wipe your feet!”
“God we thank you for everything,” this wooden placard reads:
A shield that reads, “Christ has risen” — it is a common greeting at Easter for Ukrainians.
A shield with iconography on it:
As you begin to leave the Maidan, there are posters and other pieces of art hanging:
Lenin stands no more on the shiny pedestal where he used to stand not far from the Maidan:
I’ve been in Lviv, western Ukraine the last four days. I’ve had packed intense days. Much, much more to come.