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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More