Thursday, May 22, 2014

Update from Maidan

Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the central square of Kyiv that we fondly remember from many trips to Ukraine's lovely capital city, has changed tremendously since we last visited. Erik is in Kyiv to participate in an observation mission for the presidential election this Sunday, and he walked through the square early this morning.

Over the years, he has taken many strolls along Khreshchatik, Kyiv's "Main Street". Maidan Nezlaezhnosti is located toward one end of Khreshchatik. The square, which had been transformed into the center of resistance to former President Yanukovych's regime, remains an occupied camp. The perimeter has guards on duty, though they were relaxed and even a bit jovial as Erik walked through the area. The tent city is still occupied, and people were up and about early: smoking, drinking, chatting, and making breakfast. Unlike the 2004 Orange Revolution occupation which felt more like a camping excursion, this tent city has a martial feel. Walking around the encampment, you can catch the subtle acrid whiff of burned tires from the pitched battles held just a few weeks ago.

Monuments to the "Heavenly Hundred" who died defending Maidan are everywhere: photos, signs, graffiti, and even the promise of a small park dedicated to the fallen. The starkest reminders of what occurred here, however, are the burned out shells of cars and the Trade Union building that give the area a post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

Deserted car with the Trade Union building in the background.

Trade Union Building

A shrine at the barricades.

Commemorating the "Heavenly Hundred."

Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

Another view of the Trade Union building.