National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”
Faculty of Social Sciences and Social Technologies,
Master Program of Political Science (1st year)
from Simferopol, Crimea
Being born in an independent country, living in peace in the civilized world of 21st century, I have never thought of bombs, weapons, and battle causalities or even deaths as something more realistic than historical facts from textbooks. Euromaidan started as a peaceful demonstration and turned out into a hostile confrontation between the Ukrainian riot police and activists. At this point awful scenes from the history became the heartbreaking reality where my three militaristic fears came true.
Mobilization for military service was one of the first signals that the situation becomes fearful. It is a well-known fact for Ukrainians that Ukrainian army is underestimated by the government, poorly equipped, and has the so-called dedovshchina – humiliating treatment of juniors. The army resulted in what it is now because of the corrupt system at all levels and non-transparent redistribution of the national budget by Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). Knowing the above-mentioned conditions, it is unlikely for young men to go to the military service voluntarily. Families of young men, society, and even military forces themselves understand this, though young men from 18 to 25 should serve in the military unless they introduce documents to the military commission permitting to avoid this obligation. Another reason to percept mobilization for military service as a fearful signal is that recruits can be sent to conflict areas against their will. The generation of my parents had known this fear when young men of their age were recruited to Afghanistan where they gave their lives away for the USSR army. During the violent battles at Euromaidan in February, 2014, the Ministry of Internal Affairs started recruitment to internal troops. Evidently, new recruits would be standing next to those recruited earlier in 2013 on the other side of the barricades, willingly or forcibly defending the regime of the former president Viktor Yanukovych from activists. Several of my friends received call-up paper – the next could be my boyfriend. I have never wished though always feared that close to me people or young men of my age whom I do not know would be sent to a conflict area as friends of our parents were sent to Afghanistan to fight for artificial values back in 1980s. Unfortunately, this fear came true during Euromaidan.
Another fear is certain deficit of food and goods as a result of panic caused by the conditions of defense emergency in the country. I have read about such phenomenon in textbooks about World War II and heard from family stories. After the opened fire on February 18th, 2014, Kyiv underground metro was closed; in the following days several other communication paths were blocked. These served as a fire alarm for the mass to take care of their individual “evacuation”. As Elias Canetti suggested in his Masse und Macht (eng. Crowds and Power), panic is a ruining force for crowds; that is, crowds are united by one purpose into one single organism where there is no place for individuals with their own interest; crowds have one common interest. Peaceful Euromaidan functioned as a single organism; unexpected use of force with its consequences caused panic and atomized the solid crowd into egoistic individuals. People stocked up heavily on provision, household goods, car fuel, and extinguished bank deposits. The deficit in grocery stores, at gas stations, and limits for money transactions in banks was real. Pictures from the history visualized in reality.
Finally, taking into consideration available civilized forms for conflict settlement, the fear of murders on streets in the country I live appeared to be the most absurd. Remembering events in Russia in 1993 in front of the White House (the Parliament), and drawing parallels between it and Euromaidan, the only thing I wished for was no deaths for political reasons. Back in 1993 there was a political crisis nurtured by economic and social problems. There was a political confrontation between the former Russian president Boris Yeltsyn and the majority of the Parliament around the matter of Constitution and form of governance. B. Yeltsyn stayed firmly on presidential positions, while the Russian White House demanded for a Constitutional reform in order to establish parliamentary form of governance. People went out to streets to support President Boris Yeltsin and oppose the Parliament in front of the Parliament’s building – the so-called White House. In the course of mass protests the conflict escalated resulting in many causalities and deaths. The constitutional reform was not realized preserving the status quo in the form of governance – presidential form. Personal interests of politicians covered under political theme caused innocent deaths of people, who defended their artificial values. Not a single political interest or idea is worth one of the universal values – life of a human. After twenty or more years politicians will not remember and appreciate people who defended their ideas and helped to take positions in governing apparatus of the country. The biggest sorrow of Euromaidan is that this biggest fear of mine came true. There are more than 100 deaths and even more causalities.
I would like to end by saying that living under peaceful sky, knowing tragic lessons from the world history, and witnessing the historical events taking place in the country, I was very cautious and sensitive to risks. Three fears such as mobilization for military service, deficit caused by panic, and murders on streets reflected real risks. Euromaidan, which started as a peaceful demonstration, transformed into a real battlefield – the one we could imagine after reading a textbook on history or listening to family stories. Unfortunately, all these three fears moved from imagination to materialization in reality. My fears came true during Euromaidan.
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.