Read Part 1
November 29, 2013
It was Friday. I called my friends and agreed to go with them to the Maidan in the evening. Before going out, my mother stopped me.
“Are you sure you want to go?” she asked.
“Of course. Why?”
“I have a bad feeling about this. The center of the city is full of the dangerous young guys, called titushki. They were on the Orange Revolution too. Basically, they are criminals who are paid for staging riots and provocations. I am afraid that they will go to the Maidan today. Our government won’t let you stand there forever.”
I gave her a relaxed smile.
“Then they just need to work as people want them to.”
“Many people do not support the European integration, you know.”
It was true. Mostly, Donetsk and Lugansk regions didn’t support our rally. They created a real Internet war, constantly writing that we are quitters, why they have to work when we are relaxing on the Maidan, that we are getting paid for being there, that the students came simply because they didn’t want to sit in classrooms.
They did not understand that the students were no longer little children, that we still had to work out the missing material. Missing school wasn’t why we went there, and none of my friends were offered money. But rude messages continued to pour like a river. I didn’t understand those people. They held the position against all: against the government, against the rally. I couldn’t comprehend what they wanted.
“You want me to go with you?” asked my mom.
I refused. If she was right, I did not like the idea of her being even near the Maidan.
“Take care of yourself, and if something goes wrong, just run home. I will be calling every half an hour and watch TV for some news.”
We hugged, and I went to the Maidan.
I met with my friends near the Independence Monument, where the three leaders of the opposition were supposed to say what we would do next. I looked around for titushki but didn’t notice them. It was said in the news that they dressed up as protesters and beckoned people to begin some active operations, not just dance on the Independence Square. Many agreed with them; our patience was coming to an end, but the politicians held us back — if we started to attack, then we would go against the law, and we had a peaceful rally. They promised to find an equally peaceful solution to the situation.
People sat around the fire barrels; it was an even colder at night — our winters are brutal. On the stage Ruslana Lyzhychko was singing a hymn; you may know her as the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004. She was an active member and participant of the revolution, tirelessly supporting us from the stage.
At 8 p.m. something strange started to happen. I saw that some people in masks began to gather on the side of the Maidan. When the first politician came on stage, they rushed to the monument, and I knew immediately that it was provocateurs. Unfortunately, we were sitting right in their way. They knocked barrels and chairs. Before me sat an old woman, 60-something years old, and she did not see what was going on behind her. At the last moment I lugged her from her chair, and she fell on me. Titushki nearly trampled us, but we managed to crawl away at the last second. They came to the stage and started shouting our slogans, raising up their fists and trying to provoke people. Policy again tried to calm us down and called for people from self-defense to protect the monument from provocateurs. Basically, self-defense consisted of volunteering students and a few strong men. They stood in a tight group and grappled each other’s arms. Ten minutes later titushkas were gone, but I still occasionally saw them on the side of the square.
Opposition leaders did not provide us with a clear plan of action. At 10:30 p.m., my friends decided it was time to go home. My mother was still very nervous about this whole thing, and when I told her about the small incident with titushkas, she nearly had a stroke and asked me to come back immediately. Her fears were contagious, so I checked the Internet for some news from the Maidan, but all it told me was that people had called it a night, and there were only about a thousand left on the Independence Square. I relaxed and went to sleep.
Mom woke me up at 7 a.m. It was still dark, but I immediately noticed tears in her eyes.
“What is it? What happened?”
“Tonight all the students from the Maidan were brutally beaten,” she said in a grave voice. “It happened about four in the morning. Berkut surrounded them and attacked when there were almost no people left. Ostensibly because they needed a platform to put the New Year tree, and people were hindering them. Many of them are now in hospital with broken skulls. Others ran to St. Michael’s Cathedral; they were persecuted, but the priests did not let Berkut in. They’re asking for food and medicine because they are afraid to come out of the cathedral. Today they rang the bell.”
I listened to her in shock, not grasping the information right away. Our government couldn’t do that, right? It was illegal.
Finally, I asked, “And what does it mean when the bell rings?”
“It’s a danger alarm. Last time it happened was many centuries ago. Turn on the TV; they are showing it on every channel. It’s just awful; the kids were all in blood, some with broken arms and legs. It’s impossible to watch. I’m so glad that you left early yesterday; you could be among them.
She left the room, and I immediately turned on the TV. What I saw sent shivers through my body, and I felt a nasty cold in my abdomen. All the channels showed how Berkut beat defenseless people with sticks. Cruelly. Mercilessly. Students had nothing to defend themselves. Berkut beat all the people without discrimination: boys, girls, elderly people, journalists. They cried and begged for them not to hurt them, but so called “special forces” only kicked them more or hit them in their heads with batons. They did not even give them a chance to run away. The ground was literally covered in blood.
I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. Because there were my friends. Were they safe? And that elderly woman, who gave me a sausage? Or the man who spoke to me about the stars? For what were they so beat up? FOR WHAT?
It was then that I felt anger. Rage. Resentment over injustice. And fear.
But I did know one thing. The people would rise, and spilling the blood of children wouldn’t be forgiven. The government had dug their own grave.
It wasn’t about the European Union now. From now on, we will fight for ourselves against those bandits. This carnage wasn’t the end of Euromaidan, it was the start. The revolution has begun.
Videos documenting the police attack on Euromaidan can be found here (footage captured at the scene) and here (official news story). Please be cautioned that they contain raw images of graphic violence and police brutality.