News from Kharkiv
Already on the train to Simferopol, let me make some farewell observations on Kharkiv.
Yesterday, when I talked to Serhyi Zhadan I heard about the “three Ukraines” emerging in Kharkiv: Euromaidan, Lenin’s Ukraine and passive Ukraine. The struggle between the first two is absolutely unbelievable. The temperature of many debates was past boiling point. In the evening, in front of the occupied building of the district administration, people bearing orange-and-black ribbons (a tribute to the Great Patriotic War) were fighting with others with blue-and-yellow ribbons. The scenes played out against constant yelling and screaming; it almost came to blows.
“Musical” clashes involving two podiums on two opposite sides of the street. One, located near the district administration building, adorned with Ukrainian flags, was playing Okean Elzy; the other - under Russian flags - played songs in Russian about “the best city of Kharkiv”. On the street that separated the two groups you could see blue-and-yellow Automaidan cars as well as vehicles with huge Russian flags.
From the windows of the occupied administration building, where students and young people have spontaneously organised a kitchen, a press booth and self-defence, you can see a camp set up by Lenin defenders. There are 354 steps between them - the distance that you need to walk to cross the Freedom Square.
More will follow tomorrow in my report for the “Rzeczpospolita” daily, but let me tell you, that this surreal demonstration of the social chasm is something I have never seen before. The struggle for Kharkiv is on.