Sergei Stroitelev

Photographer
  
Maidan Revolution
Location: Chisinau
Nationality: Russian
Biography: I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the... MORE
Public Story
Maidan Revolution
Copyright Sergei Stroitelev 2022
Updated Mar 2022

In Winter 2014, the capital of Ukraine, the city of Kyiv, was swept by a whirlpool of revolutionary events, the center of which was the Maidan Nezalezhnosti square. Russian tabloids were full of headlines about radicals, extremists and nationalists who had gathered there to seize power. I decided to go to Kyiv to check the accuracy of this information.

Maidan immediately reminded me of a perfectly organized island of freedom, living according to the laws of trust and unity. On this island, I met dozens of people who came here from all over the country: student volunteers, office clerks, factory workers, children, pensioners, cossacks,
priests. Ordinary Ukrainians, who were united by the belief in the possibility of change.

Grandfathers came to the barricades to visit their grandchildren - they brought cigarettes and food, songs were sung here, creative meetings took place. I did not feel any hatred or hostility towards myself. Only friendly interest and often surprise with questions: “how could you not be afraid to go? You were completely intimidated there!".

On February 18, terrible events began. Berkut unit stormed the barricades on Hrushevsky Street and made an attempt to disperse the Maidan. Unexpectedly I found myself in the epicenter of hostilities.
 
People defended the Maidan and each other as best they could, engaging in battle with an enemy that surpassed them in all respects. Then I saw that the war had united the revolutionaries even more, and I was struck by this. It was scary to raise your head at night. Explosions of grenades, screams, rumbling music merged into one noise. The wounded were carried away one by one from the front line. Maidan was on fire and there was absolutely nothing to breathe. People moved in one mass in front of a large blazing wall of fire separating the sides of the confrontation. It all felt like a terrible dream. Maidan continued to stand.

Even at this time, people in the square remained calm and said to each other - "be kind - be careful." Maidan continued to live its own life, the volunteers continued to work. There was a feeling that the revolutionaries had completely lost their fear. Each of them understood that they were already winners, no matter what the outcome of the confrontation would be. Victory is to be here, together with your like-minded people.

Maidan remained unconquered.

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