This material describes events which took place in Kyiv on January 23, 2014. Comments and photos by Ilya Varlamov – Russian businessman who come to Kyiv to see and understand the events in Ukraine.
Temporary cease fire on Maidan.
I would like to dispel the most common myths about Maidan.
1.”They destroyed the whole city”
Not true. All of the action you see in the pictures are happening on a small square near the entrance to a Dinamo stadium. This is a government sector, there is no intereference in peaceful life outside of this area. If you make an analogy with Moscow, imagine that the barricades are someone in the area of Ilinka or Varvarka, near the president’s administration. Sure, it’s the center, but regular Moscovites wouldn’t notice. There is dark smoke and fire on all pictures: those are mostly burning tires. There is not tangible damage to the buildings. Unfortunately one store burned down last night near the barricades, resulted from a poorly thrown molotov cocktail. Even the statue of Lobanovsky, located in the epicenter of fighting has been covered with cloth to prevent damage. Overall, the protesters are very careful regarding property. They’ve take apart fences and benches, but no windows are broken, noone is vandalizing, and all looters are caught and beaten. So the picture is pretty apocalyptic, but things are not so bad.
2. “This is not a revolution, nothing horrible is happeneing”
Also not true. This is a real revolution. Decide for yourselves: it’s been two months since the center of Kiev has been in the hands of the opposition. Several government buildings are seized. The work of many government offices is paralyzed. The opposition has created barricades, which the authorities have not be able to take. Despite the freezing temps, tens of thousands of people are on the streets for the last two months. The system of defense and supply chain are established. There is perfect order at the protestor HQ, people are fed, dressed, people are pooling money to gather supplies. The most important thing: the people in power are unable to restore order. The police has failed several times at try to storm the barricades. I’ll make a separate post about this, but trust me, the only way to dismantle this is with heavy artillery, or drop in commandos. Every day the opposition is securing more territories. What is this if not a revolution?
3. “The entire Kiev is paralyzed, there is no peaceful life for the regular people.”
Kiev is living its own life. All stores and cafes are working, people are going to work, study in universities, get married, divorce and even die their own death. Most of the Kiev populace are not inconvenienced. Imagine if Navalny took over the Red Square and set up his camp there. What would change for you, Moscovites? Nothing. So the only people who are inconvenienced are toruists. A few stores and cafes had to close down in the very center. Also, those living in the center have troubles with logistics. But the entire Kiev is not paralyzed.
Now, when you know all the truth, let’s see how this day was.
31. From the morning everything remains in fire.
32. The protestors use metal shields to defend themselves from water the police are pouring them with.
33. Road signs can serve as good shields.
34. The Maidan’s missile forces. Lots of pyrotechnics are being brought up to the camp, all these rockets fly towards Berkut’s positions.
35. Hearths always require more tires to be thrown into. Because of ash and ice, ground level already rose by one meter.
37. Where necessary, the police gets stoned.
38. Everything is tightened with a smokescreen. Burning tires turned out to be a very efficient tactics. Police troops can’t see what is happening and are unable to attack, though there are disadvantages as neither the protesters can see the police’s positions.
39. This night was burned children’s clothing store.
40. A catapult is always working on the front line.
41. Not many people show up on the Maidan in the morning – the majority arrives at night, after work.
43. At midday Klichko came to the barricades and announced the temporary truce. Second round of negotiations with Yanukovich was due to take place today, and Klichko asked to cease fire and extinguish tire blazes until 8 PM. The police promised not to open fire on protesters, to stop throwing grenades and pouring water. Everyone agreed – Klichko happened to be the only opposition leader whom the crowd listens to. Well done! Just yesterday nobody was listening to him. After the truce came into effect, firemen started extinguishing the burning barricade.
44. A wonderful view opened once the fire went out.
45. People immediately started advancing to the forefront which was previously engulfed by fire.
46. Berkut’s positions.
47. Berkut troops were standing angry and soaked in smoke. Throughout the truce I spotted no provocations from either side.
48. Protestors are making photos in front of Berkut, Berkut in front of the protestors – war is war, but everyone needs to updates pics in social networks.
50. Scores of soldiers and Berkut are standing in small groups up to the horizon.
52. Monument to Lobanovsky next to the stadium is neatly covered with cloth.
53. People get warm next to campfire. Is revolution possible without a bicycle? I say no!
54. People on the hill are prepared for an assault. Stones, incendiary bottles and tires tightened with barbwire will be thrown to the attackers in case of necessity.
55. “Katyusha rocket launchers” used for shooting fireworks to the police.
56. Preparation of Molotov’s cocktails.
57. Bottles and stones.
58. Cocktails are being prepared by women.
59. You’ve probably heard about people banging metal with sticks. Many asked why – this is sort of a signal. When nothing happens, nobody is taping. When casual stone- and grenade-throwing takes place, the knock is monotonous, in order to set rhythm and keep the morale. When Berkut attacks, drumming becomes louder and everyone hears that – for some it is a signal to run away, for some, on the opposite – defend the barricades.
60. Man glues his store’s showcase, even though not a single his window was broken in four days. This store sells expensive furniture, and the ad urges not to rob it. As I said, there are no marauders in Kyiv – everything is perfectly organized, contrary to Bishkek, where, as I remember, the city was plundered in half a day. Nothing like that takes place here.
61. People hammer the snow, then load it to sacks and bring to the barricades. Snow serves as the main building material here. Sacks are being poured by water and snow turns into ice – monolithic barricades which come out are very difficult to destroy.
62. The Maidan’s quarries. People break the sett into easy to throw stones, load into sacks and bring to the frontline.
63. That’s how it looks.
64. They carry.
65. A stove.
66. Modern art.
68. One of the protesters. Russian press usually describes the participants of Maidan as “extremists, radical thugs, ultras, members of nationalistic groups, motley nationalist, sometimes openly Nazist public, extremist militants, rioters, pogromists, rebels” etc…
69. A journalist.
70. According to NTV (russian pro-government tv-channel), this is an “amuck radical”.
71. Look at the people. I said it already, but will repeat: all social classes are present on the squares – from students to pensioners.
72. Grannies for Timoshenko.
73. Another “extremist”.