How did the Ukrainians prosper in this revolution?
Why didn’t the Maidan stop and accept the terms of the agreeement? Why didn’t they listen to the opposition, why didn’t they fear further bloodshed?
In my opinion, one of the crucial points of this revolution was a series of mourning ceremonies held this Friday, which included the presentation open coffins of people killed during "Black Thursday“.
Everything started subtly, unexpectedly. That Friday was sunny; despite the horror of the previous day, hope of change was growing in the hearts of the people. Throughout the entire day the Maidan protesters had been receiving news about new concessions of the authorities and new decisions of the new parliamentary majority announced from the stage. The square was being cleaned up, those who were able to help grabbed brooms, spades, bags and started clearing the main square of Kiev of the remnants of block stones, burned tyres, firewood ash. One could observe the belief in an imminent breakthrough and the calmness brought about by this thought.
The first coffins were brought to the periphery of the square at about 4 p.m, Ukrainian time. Without unnecessary fuss e.g. bells clanging, announcements; delivered by ordinary, white delivery vans.
Right then I was leaving Maidan; a minute before I had finished a long lap of the revolution site together with Igor Medelyan, a journalist from "TV critics. Journalism. Free speech" (Телекритика. Журналістика. Свобода слова) web-based media. We parted in good spirits, as we had managed to shoot good material and talked to people who lifted our spirit, transferring positive energy to us.
I was passing by the gate near the Trade Unions House when a small crowd that had gathered spontaneously near one of the delivery vans caught my attention. Such vans regularly arrive at the Maidan, usually bringing food, drinks and other products. My first thought was:yet another bottom-up revolutionary organisation; they are going to help carry things in..
But this time they organised a funeral procession.
A coffin was taken out of the van. Mature, burly men, friends of the deceased, were weeping so hard they could not rise from their knees. Finally they managed to nominate several persons to take the coffin on their shoulders. Within a few minutes, after the procession headed for the stage, a priest and a friend carrying the dead man’s photo joined in, walking ahead of the coffin, and soon there was a procession of a few dozen people following them.
The Maidan grew silent. The horror of the previous day had transformed into a slightly optimistic atmosphere. A large crowd gathered at the central square of Kiev. Most of these people had only seen the Instytutska street events on their TV screens. Now they could see their heroes with their own eyes. Dead, frigid, lying in open coffins. Twenty-year-old boys. Mature men whose children were now orphans, whose families were left alone. Grey-haired elderly people.
I captured video of the funeral procession of Igor Kostenko from the Ternopol region.
He was twenty-two and worked as a sports journalist. He was studying in Lvov. Several hours before his death, he had slept in the same apartment as I had.
When I arrived at my accommodation, he was having a rest in the neighbouring room, tired after many days spent on the barricades. We didn’t have a chance to become acquainted; when he returned to the Maidan, I arrived home. We crossed each other’s path while he was alive but fate decreed that we would meet later at his funeral.
Over the next few hours, more and more new coffins appeared at the Maidan. They were being brought from different sides, you just kept bumping into a new procession from time to time. You found yourself unprepared for moments when you had to cross your heart and say a short prayer; I did this several times.
From the moment that the first coffin was brought in, the square turned into a place of national mourning. Most people were weeping, women were fainting, fellow fighters were threatening to take revenge against the murderers of their friends. With every victim brought to the square, anger grew, and so did the feeling of inevitability of a fight; a necessity to take firm action.
When the opposition leaders announced the signing of the agreement and the early elections to be held in December, it was after a few dozen funeral ceremonies had been conducted at the square. Had the announcement been made several hours earlier, people may not have reacted so decisively, but after those depressing and sorrowful moments, they wanted nothing less than the immediate removal from power of Yanukovich and the Party of Regions.
They did it.
by Tomasz Piechal, Kiev, #MisjaODF