The Revolution of Ukraine – Kiev Protests

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.

The Revolution - Kiev, Ukraine
 

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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

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