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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

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

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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 S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
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 Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
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.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs