The Revolution of Ukraine – Kiev Protests

The Revolution - Kiev, Ukraine

On a recent trip to Ukraine I witnessed the protests currently taking place in Independence Square, Kiev, and the aftermath of the riots which still remain.

Visited April 2014  Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine

This is far from a usual report. This isn’t an abandoned building, this is real life! This was such a powerful experience that it deserved to be written up and published.

Welcome to the Revolution…

I have just returned from a trip to Ukraine. My main aim was to visit Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the abandoned town of Pripyat – reports are on their way. While in Ukraine I also stopped off at the capital city, Kiev. You will have seen on the news the riots that took place in February, and we are all aware of the unrest the country is currently experiencing. What I was not expecting, however, was the scenes I was to witness in Kiev. The protesters are still camped out in Independence Square, the area has been barricaded blocking access to vehicles and the clean-up operation has not yet begun.

Walking through Independence Square you can feel the revolution taking place around you.

The smell of smoke, the feeling of tension and an atmosphere that cannot be described send your senses into overdrive, knowing that the situation there could turn extremely nasty at any second. Boxes of Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs are stacked up and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

Despite the unbelievable scenes, life for the Ukrainian people goes on. It is clear changes will take place in Ukraine, but exactly what those changes will be remains to be seen.

This was a truly eye opening experience for me, scenes of the kind that I am unlikely to experience again. My pictures cannot capture the feeling of being there, the atmosphere, or the power of the actions of the protestors. I hope you enjoy looking anyway.

A militant protester in Independence Square
A militant protester in Independence Square

History

The civil unrest began when president Yanukovych decided at the eleventh hour to pull out of a deal that would see Ukraine join the EU. Opinions are divided throughout the country as to whether or not the deal should take place. People in the east of the country have strong ties with Russia, the majority of whom emigrated while Ukraine was part of the USSR. People in the west, on the other hand, have strong ties with Europe. They speak Ukrainian, whereas the eastern people primarily speak Russian.

Entering the EU will most likely see an end to the strong relationship Ukraine has with Russia, and President Putin would like to strengthen the relationship to bolster his campaign to become a superpower rivalling Europe and China. However, many now feel that Yanukovych has caved in to Putins demands, throwing away a better future for the country. Other Eastern European countries that have joined the EU are now experiencing much stronger economies, up to ten times stronger than before they joined.

It is difficult to see how a peaceful conclusion can be drawn. Ukraine is now divided on opinion and it will take a long time to be resolved. The protesters vehemently believe in their cause, and change is certainly imminent.

Rows of tents and the shell of a burnt out bank
Rows of tents and the shell of a burnt out bank
Burnt out bank behind the protesters camp
Burnt out bank behind the protesters camp
Scenes in the centre of Kiev
Scenes in the centre of Kiev
Guards patrolling Kiev
Guards patrolling Kiev
The monument stands tall amidst the chaos
The monument stands tall amidst the chaos
Rows and rows of tents
Rows and rows of tents
The burnt out bank behind a tent
The burnt out bank behind a tent
Mini streets between the protesters tents
Mini streets between the protesters tents
Street art with a powerful message
Street art with a powerful message
 
Colourful scenes in the city centre
Colourful scenes in the city centre
Cordoned off - the protesters camp
Cordoned off – the protesters camp
Piles of rubble - the clean-up operation has not yet taken place
Piles of rubble – the clean-up operation has not yet taken place
Burnt out cars litter the streets
Burnt out cars litter the streets
The people have become used to the burnt out cars
The people have become used to the burnt out cars
Banners behind a smashed up car
Banners behind a smashed up car
Passers by stare, the protest continues
Passers by stare, the protest continues
Chilling leftovers from the riots
Chilling leftovers from the riots
Sign in a pile of rubble
Sign in a pile of rubble
The entire square is occupied or filled with rubble
The entire square is occupied or filled with rubble
No War - Poster
No War – Poster
The area around the monument is covered with tents
The area around the monument is covered with tents
The camp stretches as far as you can see
The camp stretches as far as you can see
Protest takes place around the clock
Protest takes place around the clock
Army ready to respond
Army ready to respond
Contrasting scene as the sun sets and the buildings light up
Contrasting scene as the sun sets and the buildings light up
Standing up for what they believe in
Standing up for what they believe in
Author: Andy Kay | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

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