News / Europe

As Kyiv’s Maidan Square Clears, Regrets Remain

Tourists look on as protesters start pulling down their remaining Maidan tents, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)
Tourists look on as protesters start pulling down their remaining Maidan tents, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)

The last of the hardcore protesters on Kyiv's Independence Square accepted the inevitable Sunday and took down their last remaining canvas tents following scuffles and the burning of tires three days earlier. They are leaving but not without ill-feelings towards Ukraine's new, post-revolution government.

One of the protesters, Alexandra, has a nasty cut on her nose, courtesy of a baton-wielding policeman, and a heavy heart. The 30-year-old student has been in Kyiv's Independence Square, or Maidan, since the start last November of months of bloody protests that eventually led to the February ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych, now in exile in Russia.

She surveys the Maidan and sees souvenir stalls where once there had been the protesters' canvas tents and she is angry with the government and Kyiv's new mayor Vitali Klitschko, a former world boxing champion, who was one of the most prominent leaders of the protest movement and who has insisted Independence Square return to normal.  

"This new government in Ukraine has no difference with the old government because nothing has changed for the Ukrainian's people," says Alexandra.

Protesters reclaim their belongings, including a battered fridge, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)Protesters reclaim their belongings, including a battered fridge, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)
x
Protesters reclaim their belongings, including a battered fridge, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)
Protesters reclaim their belongings, including a battered fridge, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)


Mayor Klitschko disputes that, and on Thursday he ordered police to start the final phase to clear the square, prompting scuffles and the burning of tires by diehard protesters. The demonstrators say that with their departure the pressure will be off the post-revolution government to enact reforms.

In a press statement, Klitschko said he had tried to negotiate with the hardcore protesters, many of whom are members of right-wing nationalist groups, arguing most people want downtown Kyiv to return to normal and for there to be order in the city center. He said the main demands of the Maidan uprising have been met with Yanukovych gone and reforms under way.

Twenty-one-year-old Irina, a petite blond who like Alexandra has been in the Maidan since late last year, disagrees. She is visibly upset as some of her comrades take down the next to last tent in the square and load their few belongings, including a battered fridge and posters, onto a truck.

"People who live in Kyiv, say go. They don't want us. But they don't think about their government. They don't think of the work we have done. We are trying to change our system," said Irina.

Protester tents are replaced by a Ukrainian Army recruitment tent, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)Protester tents are replaced by a Ukrainian Army recruitment tent, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)
x
Protester tents are replaced by a Ukrainian Army recruitment tent, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)
Protester tents are replaced by a Ukrainian Army recruitment tent, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014. (Jamie Dettmer/VOA)


In recent weeks the Maidan encampments have shrunk in size. Some younger men have joined volunteer battalions to fight pro-Russian separatists in the east. For many the square remains a stirring symbol of people power. It was here, overlooking the Maidan, where more than a hundred demonstrators were gunned down in the final days of the rebellion against former president Yanukovych.

But many Ukrainians say the focus now should be on the conflict with Russia in the east. Fears are rising that Russian President Vladimir Putin might intervene to save separatists in the eastern-most Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk from defeat at the hands of an increasingly confident Ukrainian army.

More than 1,100 people have died since the Ukrainian army began its "anti-terrorist" operation in the east, say U.N. officials.

As the rebels struggle to hold back Kyiv's forces, Western leaders have accused Russia of massing troops again on the border.

Putin has argued that Russian peacemakers may be needed to prevent a humanitarian crisis but Ukraine leaders say that is an excuse to send in troops.

*A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that 1,100 civilians had died since the Ukrainian army offensive started.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs