News / Europe

    Tensions Rise as Kyiv Debates Future of Independence Square

    Rising Tensions as Kyiv Debates Future of Independence Squarei
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    August 06, 2014 12:53 PM
    Seven months after Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country following mass demonstrations in Kyiv's Independence Square, the protest camp - known as "Maidan" - still occupies the center of the city. The activists say their continued presence is still necessary, but many local residents want the square cleaned up. Henry Ridgwell reports from Kyiv on the rising tensions at the site.
    Rising Tensions as Kyiv Debates Future of Independence Square
    Henry Ridgwell

    Nearly seven months after Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country following mass demonstrations in Kyiv's Independence Square, the protest camp - known as ‘Maidan’ - still occupies the center of the city. The activists say their continued presence is still necessary, but many local residents want the square cleaned up. And tensions are rising in Independence Square.
     
    Svitlana, an activist from Kolomiya in western Ukraine, gently tends to her tomato plants that are fast ripening under the summer sun in Kyiv’s Independence Square.

    She and her friends have made a vegetable garden on what was, during Ukraine’s bitter winter, the front line between the protesters and security forces. The weapons of resistance have been replaced with trowels and spading forks.

    Even though peace has returned to Kyiv, Svitlana said that did not mean the Maidan protests should end.

    She said they were demanding total purification to get rid of the corrupted officials, and a full investigation into the shooting of protesters on Maidan.

    Over a hundred protesters in Independence Square were killed when security forces opened fire in January.

    The protests led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.  In May, Ukraine elected a new leader, Petro Poroshenko. Many Kyiv residents, like local store worker Valya, said it’s time to move on.

    Valya said that as Kyiv residents, they supported the protesters, they gave them clothes and food. “We thought it was necessary and that’s why we helped. But now I don’t think Maidan plays that role anymore. It will not take us anywhere,” she said.

    Residents complain Independence Square has become a haven for crime.  Kyiv’s Mayor - opposition figure Vitaliy Klitschko - told VOA the Maidan protest camp no longer had a purpose.

    He said Kyiv residents were donating money, which was used to buy the flak jackets that we were short of in the conflict areas in the east. And yet here, "in Maidan, the men are wearing flak jackets? This is the first question to answer. The second is why we sometimes hear gunshots, we hear of robberies, and attacks on the media,” he said.

    But there are many observers who argue the political revolution is not finished.

    Among them is policy analyst Valerii Pekar, of the group International Forum Ukraine.

    He said that parliamentary elections were one of the first Maidan demands, and now it was hard to know whether these elections would actually take place.

    Pekar went on to say many of the younger Maidan protesters left Kyiv to fight pro-Russian separatists in the east, alongside Ukrainain government forces.

    The Maidan activists, who are now on the frontlines in the east, he said, demanded that those who were left on Independence Square - most of them senior citizens - keep occupying the area. They realized that it could be occupied by anti-Ukrainian forces, he added.

    Mykola Bondar leads a Maidan group calling itself the ‘4th Cossack Hundred’. He and his fellow protesters are determined to stay.

    “If they try to clean Maidan forcefully,” he warns, “we’ll respond appropriately. Until the changes we all gathered on Maidan for are fulfilled, no-one will clear anything,” he said.

    The battle on Independence Square is now between the protesters who say their job isn't finished, and many residents who want their historic city cleaned up and returned to normal.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.