Euromaidan: Impossible Is Possible

Protesters on Hrushevskoho Street, January 24. Illustration for Ann Hnedkova's "Euromaidan: Impossible is Possible."
Protesters on Hrushevskoho Street, January 24. Source: Photographer: Brendan Hoffman

Ann Hnedkova
National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”
Faculty of Humanities
Master Program of Philology (1st year)
from Kyiv city

Throughout Euromaidan Revolution, one question was verbalized or thought of by its participants more often than any other: “How is that possible?” The same question constantly interrupts my conversations with international friends about the recent Ukrainian events. It seems that the question is not going to lose its relevance after the Euromaidan phenomenon. That is why its origin, evolution, and meaning are needed to explain.

November 21, 2013. The question of possibility becomes a mover of people. The Ukraine’s suspense of European Union trade preparation is announced. Kyiv reacts with peaceful protests with European Union flags, student strikes, and the improvised stage at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti square. Dancing, singing the Hymn of Ukraine, and not leaving the square until our voices are being heard. How is that possible that the government does not react? Maybe it is worth arranging more peaceful meetings, encouraging more people to join, and waiting?

November 30, Saturday morning. The question of possibility sows fear in people. All television channels transmit the same horrible video of “Berkut” armed forces beating and arresting peaceful demonstrators, mostly women and students, at 4 a.m.; the ones who managed to escape from “Berkut” hide in the church. How is that possible? How could that have happened in our country?

December 1, 2013. The question of possibility unites people. “The March of Millions” expresses deprecation of the Saturday’s events all over Ukraine. The thought, “How is that possible to gather millions of people?” And then the streets are so full with protesters that we do not manage to move through the crowd and to buy some coffee until the meeting ends. The feeling of extreme pride for the Ukrainian nation. People demand punishment of those who were responsible for brutal actions. No reaction from the government. Forming a campus at Maidan Nezalezhnosti square. Volunteer work at the improvised kitchen. An endless row of smiling women with home-cooked dinners and men with packages full of medicine bought for their own money. Thousands of people are willing to give their money for the Maidan needs. Euromaidan as a place where one gives instead of taking and pays instead of being paid. My grandmother, feeling that she can still change something and help somehow despite her age. Euromaidan as a unique logics, which is impossible for the non-participants to understand. ‘How much did America and opposition pay you per hour?’ ‘How is that possible that you are not paid?’

December 8, 2013. The question of possibility reorganizes people. Demonstrators at Maidan Nezalezhnosti square demand dismissal of the government. Some protesters are arrested and jailed. People occupy Kyiv administration building and write petitions; however, the European Union applies no sanctions. A dirty disabled man in the holey scarf asks me to present him with my Ukrainian flag and kisses my arms with gratitude when I give it to him. The same man a week later helps to carry materials for the barricades on his wheelchair.

December 11, 2013. The question of possibility encourages people. A telephone call at 3 a.m. from our friends; their warning about the second try of demonstrators’ persecution, and our coming to help demonstrators against “Berkut” units. Our small victory: “Berkut” is hustled away by citizens who woke up and came to prevent new aggression. After that, every night the Internet is being switched on and “Hromads’ke” or “Espresso” online streams are being watched in fear of the third try. Extremely cold weather; I wear a ski suit, but my fingers are frozen, and I hardly manage to pour tea and cook sandwiches. The meetings of Euromaidan support happen all over the world.

December 31, 2013. The question of possibility amazes people. Celebrating the New Year at Maidan square and singing the Hymn of Ukraine with flashlights in hands. A patriotic song is leaning up in the sky from millions of breasts. How is that possible to rediscover the meaning of this song once again?

January 16, 2014. The question of possibility is used against people. Parliament falsifies voting procedures in passing of 20 laws: a prohibition of wearing helmets, a forbiddance of driving more than 5 cars in a row, and other anti-democratic and unconstitutional laws. How is that possible, why does President have a right to make unconstitutional decisions?

January 19, 2014. The question of possibility adds courage to people. Demonstrators gather at Maidan Nezalezhnosti square with pans and strainers on their heads instead of helmets to show their humorous attitude towards the new laws. Hrushevs’kogo Street becomes a battlefield between “Berkut” units and radicalized protesters. Government escalates violence and hires enforcers called “titushki” to discredit real activists. It is not safe to wear Ukrainian national symbolics any more. Near Kyiv, some activists are found dead or seriously injured. My telephone operator sends me SMS that I am registered as an antigovernment participant. Telephone conversations are tapped by the police, and we create a conspiracy language to protect ourselves. Activists form “Automaidan” and “Self-protection” groups to stop “titushki” groups, but “Berkut” and the police cooperate with “titushki” men.

January 22, 2014. The question of possibility deeply afflicts people. My friend Olga Shatna, a “Spilno” television journalist, is beaten by “Berkut” amuck men, her telephone is being withdrawn. Protesters with wooden shields, sticks, and petrol bombs withstand fully armed “Berkut” units. My father wearing a ski helmet, with his tired face covered with soot; my clothes smell of smoke. Numerous facts of using bombs and firearms against demonstrators and journalists are ignored by the government and most of television channels. 5 activists are killed.

February 18, 2014. The question of possibility already causes no disbelief. Protests on Instituts’ka Street, “Berkut” throws grenades from the roof; my mother and other unarmed women are chased by “Berkut” units and hide in the toilet of some cafe. Someone wrote in our house’s elevator cabin, “The one who does not stand against “Berkut” has no right to be a man!” My university declares a week of remote education because it cannot guarantee students’ safety.

February 20, 2014. The question of possibility cures people of fear. Sharpshooters sit on the roofs and kill volunteers and doctors; nevertheless, we come to help at hospitals. “How long did you sleep last night?” “No time to sleep,” answers an injured demonstrator, “because we’ve been sleeping for 22 years”. A magic vanishing of fear when you stand near your native people at Maidan. A situation when “Take care of yourself” is a real warning, and the question “Are you alive?” has a literal meaning. More than one hundred protesters die, most of them are young men; the youngest is 17 years old.

February 23, 2014. The question of possibility achieves foreigners. The dead protesters are honored as heroes of Ukraine, and every day crying funeral trains carry coffins, flags, and flowers. How is that possible in the twenty-first century? Yanukovich escapes to Russia; Kyiv forms a new government and announces a new president election. At last, the European Union provides sanctions against Yanukovich and his government.

February 27, 2014. The question of possibility becomes a tool of war. Putin misinforms and occupies Crimea. Our close friends from Crimea suddenly accuse us of fascism, and believe Russian armed forces come to protect them from us. How is that informational war possible?

March 1, 2014. The question of possibility concerns every single person. People with unknown numbers blackmail my mobile phone. Every night I see nightmares about war without ever seeing a real war. Thousands of people join the army, and my father is among them. How is that possible? How?

To conclude, these four months witnessed many actions of government, which were so cruel and aggressive that it was hard to believe they are possible. But now I know for sure: it is impossible to slave my nation. It is impossible not to take my country into account. And when my nation stands up for something, no matter how impossible the aim seems at first, everything is possible.


This essay is part of a series of student writing on the Euromaidan, part of the the Student Views of Euromaidan project.

For more information on this series and a full index of contributions, please see the introductory post.

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