A Day in the Life in Kyiv, in the Shadow of the EuroMaidan
Herself a participant of the Maidan protests, Anna Melnyk describes how everyday life goes on in Kyiv and how, on the one hand, the EuroMaidan has spread like a wildfire across Ukraine, but how on the other a significant part of Ukrainian society supports Yanukovych.
A lot has been already said about the recent developments in the Ukrainian capital and across the country. There is no need for new explanations of what caused the revolutionary moods among the society and what measures have not been taken and could possibly be taken to prevent a further escalation of this conflict. Now, Kyiv is on the front page of the most respected and read newspapers and magazines around the globe, while news reports on the world’s television channels do not omit Kyiv from their daily news.
Kyiv seems to live its own normal life. Yes, do not be surprised. The city functions as usual: you can go and see a movie, meet up with your friends in a restaurant, arrange some business with your bank or post office, etc. Yes, please realise that there are almost no obstacles to this. It looks like the people of Kyiv live their usual day-to-day lives.
But there is another dimension to Kyiv. Maidan Nezaleznosti, the European Square and Hrushevskogo Street are places where people have been defending their rights for a couple of months. These are places where the people of Ukraine were peacefully protesting and now are literally fighting for their freedoms and against the criminal regime of Viktor Yanukovych. All Ukrainians who live their regular lives, who are actively participating in peaceful and less peaceful protests have one common feeling. Every morning, they awake with a feeling of disquiet: this is really happening to our country! The state is using terror against its people, and everyone can be imprisoned for wearing national symbols.
And it would be that easy to juxtapose the criminal government, dictatorship, corrupt police and special police force Berkut on the one side, and people who don’t want all of that on the other. There is one big “but” here. A significant percentage of the people consider Yanukovych and company to be a good management team for Ukraine, and they are strongly against anything that even slightly reminds them of the West and Western values, whether it is European integration or the EuroMaidan. They think that the police and Berkut are guarding them, not Yanukovych, from the EuroMaidan “criminals”. The point here is that these people, regardless of whether they are paid to tell that or they genuinely believe in it, are Ukrainians too. They hold the same nationality, they live in the same country and they, apparently, don’t want any changes.
This is something that all people of Ukraine have to think about when they are talking about the future Ukraine they want to live in.
I can hardly call myself an active participant in all the events, as I have not been staying at the EuroMaidan permanently. But I am among people of Kyiv who are not afraid to go to the Maidan and protest for our rights and express my views. I don’t want to see the Ukrainians being killed for Ukraine and by their fellow Ukrainians! And it is almost impossible to say how many of us, like myself, are out there. The revolution is, indeed, much more numerous than it might seem. So when you hear “EuroMaidan”, don’t think of the relatively small area in the city centre or about Kyiv only. It has spread across the entire Ukraine, perhaps unevenly. In this long and painful way to build a new Ukraine we have to remember that there is another part of Ukrainians who have their own positions and standpoints very different from ours!
People who are making this revolution happen, people who have been staying at the Maidan for the past few months, people who are living their day-to-day lives in Kyiv and all Ukrainians are all ready to fight because we understand: there is no way back!
Anna Melnyk holds an MA in Europeanisation and Governance in Central and Eastern Europe from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and a BA in International Information from the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv.