April 10, 2014

The aftermath of protests in Kyiv

Editor’s note: On February 20, Ukraine lived one of its most tragic days in recent times when dozens of antigovernment protesters were killed by security forces close to Kyiv’s central square, known as the Maidan. As many as one hundred people were reported dead. In this guest post, local urban sketcher Natalia Litvinenko describes her experience that day and shares sketches she made on and around the square after the massacre.

Feb. 22, 2014. Marks from burned tires were still fresh on the pavement as a passerby paused to reflect on the scene. The sight of sharp anti-tanks hedgehogs contrasted with the gentle shape of a Ukrainian flag waving from a leafless tree.

Feb. 22, 2014. Orange helmets worn by protesters lied over a wall of cobblestones. Another sign of the violence could be seen in the background: The burned walls and windows of the Trade Union building.

Feb. 22, 2014. The remnants of canisters from Molotov cocktails and piles of cobblestones that were used as weapons became the subject of an impromptu still life.

Feb. 22, 2014. People brought flowers to remember the victims.

By Natalia Litvinenko

The subway system was shut down, few buses ran and it was impossible to hail or phone a cab. Many people don’t own cars here, so they had to hitchhike to get transportation. My friend had to walk five kilometers in the snow to get home. My office email was filled with messages from people offering rides to those who needed them.

Then the offices were shut down and we were told to work from home "until the situation stabilizes," as it was very unsafe to go outside. Thugs hired by the government were roaming around, ransacking the city and beating people up. Some guys would patrol the neighborhoods to protect people from those thugs, some would go to Maidan and help with what they could. They brought food, warm clothes, and dug up cobblestones to be used as weapons. They also brought helmets and bottles for making Molotov cocktails. They also burned tires hoping the smoke would protect them from pro-government snipers firing at them.

On February 22, 2014, two days after the sad events, I went to Maidan to see the scene for myself. Black dirt and ashes from burned tires covered the bare ground. In some places, you could still see stains of blood. Thousands of people brought flowers and candles to remember the victims. The smell of burned wood that protesters used to keep warm was still in the air.

Now the situation is much safer and stable. We hope for a better future as our country comes together again. But there are still barricades in the center of Kyiv and people still remember the "Heavenly Hundred," as the fallen protesters were called.

On April 6, I did the last sketch (below). Two dummies dressed like protesters and a pile of tires are now a so-called monument to remember why people rose and what they fought for. The writing on the container says "Share warmth [with others]." The other one says "Heroes are not dying."

April 6, 2014. A makeshift monument honors the lives lost during the February protests.

Natalia Litvinenko works as a technical writer for a software company and sketches during her free time. “I don't have artistic education, but art is my passion, something that I love doing more than anything else,” says Natalia. She recently started a flickr group for urban sketchers in Ukraine, and this is her first guest post for UrbanSketchers.org.

Want to contribute a guest post? Email USk Editorial Director Gabriel Campanario at gabi@urbansketchers.org.


Paul Kirchner said...

Your sketches sent waves of emotion up and down my spine.

kumi matsukawa said...

These images speak so much.

Nina Johansson said...

I´m with Paul - very emotional, and a good reportage of the situation in Kiev. I´m glad to see that you are able to sketch there, in the midst of all the unrest - you are one more important voice about what is happening in Ukraine.

memi said...

Extremely powerful.

Murray Dewhurst said...

Well captured. Thank you for your report during such unpleasant circumstances — I hope the situation continues to improve in the Ukraine.