Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine
- Ilya Varlamov
- Ilya Varlamov is a Russian businessman and the founder of an advertising agency iCube. He is better known as a social activist blogger and photographer. He’s one of the lead organizers for Country Not Stupid, a community project aimed at protecting human rights and freedoms in Russia. He is also one of the creators of Urban Projects; a fund used to improve the urban environment of Moscow based on studies of the area. He lives in Moscow with his wife and daughter, but it’s easier to find him on his LiveJournal or his Twitter than at home.
On January 22nd and 23rd, Ilya Varlamov, a Russian blogger and photographer, went to report on the protests in Kiev. The following are excerpts from his blog originally posted on January 26th, 2014.
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 interference 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 [Valeriy] 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, no one 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 happening”
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 tourists. 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.
Usually reporters try to answer the question: “Who came out to Maidan and why.” Depending on the political leaning of MSM, the answers are different. Some say it’s “fascists who came out to lynch the Moscali (Ukranian derogatory for Moscovites and Russians in general).”, some say “they’re bums and slackers, who’ve got nothing better to do” and “instigators on the government payroll.” In reality, there is no answer. Those who came out are completely different. Remember, how a couple of years in Moscow there was a MSM buzzword “angry townspeople.” Here you see football fans, retirees, office plankton. And everyone is standing together. A sweet, ol’ grandmother is pouring Molotv cocktail in a nationalists’ bottles; and a manager of a large company is carrying ammunition to the student. And as it seems to me at this time, these people do not have a specific plan, nor idea of what to do next. Of course, individually, everyone has their own plan to “save Ukraine.” For some its “we need a couple of crates of AKs and grenades, we’ll sort things out here quickly.” Others “need to ask the world community for help and bring in the UN troops.” At this time there is no central idea of what to do, an idea that can unite and point in one direction the people at Maidan.
The only thing that is completely clear – people came out against Yanukovich.
All photos and content by Ilya Varlamov