KYIV— As Ukraine expands its military offensive in the east, Kyiv residents worry about the growing conflict and wonder if the planned May 25th national election can proceed under these conditions.
Independence Square, also known as Maidan, was the center of the protests in Kyiv that forced president Viktor Yanukovych from power.
It is still occupied by a small contingent of nationalist militia who live in tents and survive on donations.
Given the current conflict between the Ukrainian military and separatists in the east, Inokentiy Travkin said he and his comrades have no plans to leave soon.
“It was planned that we would stay until the election, for sure. Given these pro-Russian activities, I do not know, yeah, we will stay for a long time,” Travkin said.
Many Ukrainians are hopeful the upcoming presidential election will help resolve the crisis.
“These elections should happen. It is obvious. Changes for the better will appear if we have a head of state, if he will be worthy and skillful enough to manage,” said one man named Denis, who didn’t give his last name.
But others are concerned the fighting eastern Ukraine will make it too dangerous to hold the election.
“They will not happen if the situation in the east does not change, absolutely. I think that Russia will do everything possible to make us cancel the election and create a sense of emergency,” said a woman named Valeriya, who didn’t give her last name.
Pro-Western activist Ivan Kurudzyak said by moving forward with the election and reform, more Ukrainians in the east will be motivated to engage in the democratic process.
“I believe that people from Donetsk region, simple people and even some separatist people, if they will listen about changing the country, about concrete steps to change their lives, they will not be in the consciousness of war,” Kurudzyak said.
Even though Kyiv's protest area is quiet and peaceful, people here remain uncertain about the future and how this conflict will end.