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The Maidan Now

In Memorial

“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.

Mother Son

Maidan Candles

Burnt Out Building

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.”

Propaganda

Burnt Out Car

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.

Crimea

This graffiti reads, “Who will be held responsible for Crimea?”

Crimean Responsibility

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.

Bohdan

To the Fallen

To the Fallen

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.

Afghans

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.

Christ Has Risen

The red-black sign is for the right-wing group Right Sector:

Tire Stack

Tent City

This is a placard for a government building. The now faded spray paint reads, “Revolutionary tribunal.”

Revolutionary Tribunal

“Revolution” spelled out in bricks.

Revolution in Bricks

Remnants

Moltov cocktail made out of a well-known beer, Lvivske, from Western Ukraine.

Moltov

This graffiti in front of McDonalds reads, “Forever live the memory of the heavenly hundred.”

McD

Memorial

Some of the writing on the Ukrainian flag below reads, “Nothing has changed.”

Nothing has changed flag

Ice Cream and Gas Mask

A memorial to one of the few women killed in February.

Heavenly Hundred

 

Towering

“Ukraine above all”  reads the glass booth:

Ukraine Above All

“Ukraine is Europe,” reads a tent from the town of Turka.

Ukraine is Europe

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?

Gets Weird

You can buy souvenirs from vendors including doormats with the former president’s face. The mat reads, “Wipe your feet!”

Door Mat

“God we thank you for everything,” this wooden placard reads:

God We Thank You

A shield that reads, “Christ has risen” — it is a common greeting at Easter for Ukrainians.

Easter Time

A shield with iconography on it:

Religious Shield

Maidan Art

As you begin to leave the Maidan, there are posters and other pieces of art hanging:

From Russia...

Putin Puppet

Yanking Yanuk

Burnt Out

Lenin stands no more on the shiny pedestal where he used to stand not far from the Maidan:

Goodbye Lenin

I’ve been in Lviv, western Ukraine the last four days. I’ve had packed intense days. Much, much more to come.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Very powerful writing and photography. These are insights we really don’t get from mainstream media. Thank you and stay safe.

    May 20, 2014
  2. Great blog, Lydia! Makes this old Sacramentan proud! Let’s be blogging buddies, eh? http://unpackingrussia.com/
    Patty Gray (Megan’s aunt)

    May 26, 2014
    • Thanks! Happy to have a new blog to follow :)

      May 26, 2014
  3. Alena Gonzales #

    When a group of people overthrow the government without asking the opinion of the rest of the country you can see consequences that go beyond cultural and economic change they were hoping for. There was no peaceful process of reelection or negotiation. Legitimate protectors of order (police and military) were attacked with Molotov cocktails , chains, stones , ets. A lot of them were 18 year old service men of the regular army. They were standing as a wall protecting government buildings like they were ordered by their superiors with shields and sticks unarmed. They were abused and beaten for days without major retaliation. Nobody reports that. That would have never happened in Washington DC. I can guarantee the US government would have reacted with arrests and probably use of some time of weapons a lot faster. And after all those people lost their lives no one knew what to do with that new freedom , no one could truly take charge and unite Ukraine providing liberties for all ethnicities residing here. The first few proposals ( that in the end were not even supported by the rest of the Rada) triggerd processes that later led to annexation of Crimea and civil war in the East. You can not as the government please one side of the country and completely dismiss interest of the other and think it will be ok. You can blame Putin for every problem in the Ukraine ( and there are some good points there), however, the newly proclaimed government of the Ukraine laid the ground work for the unrest with their idiotic statements and wrong moves from the first day they took over the power.

    July 27, 2014

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