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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs