Euromaidan, Kyiv – February 19

Euromaidan Ukraine revolutionFROM MY PAL IN KYIV

5pm – Confused picture, big danger is government says it is introducing big crackdown on ‘extremist terrorists’.

On the other hand Maidan looks very hard to dislodge without an actual shooting war – today they took over a load more public buildings and more people have settled permanently on Maidan.

Also from what I can work out in western and central oblasts they have taken over police stations etc and there have been demos in south and east.

Titushki (hired government thugs) not really noticeable so government support in Kyiv now seems to be Berkut and interior ministry police.

People I have spoken to horrified at state actions yesterday and large numbers have been delivering supplies to Maidan (Independence Square).

Seems fairly quiet for now – at home and cant hear many explosions. There was a constant barrage last night.

It seems a kind of miracle that they held most of the square; it looked like aftermath of a medieval battle this morning.

The metro system is shut, so after a failed attempt to get to work I gave up and headed down to Maidan, passing armoured cars with Interior Ministry sitting on them.

I got there just after some kind of ceasefire had come into effect, at about 8.15.

Yatsenyuk, Tyahnybok, Klitchko
The opposition leaders – Yatsenyuk, Tyanhynbok and Klitchko, in the Trade Union building in December

Otherwordly scenes – it’s amazing that they managed to hold out overnight – I barely slept last night due to constant explosions.

Some women are crying while others put together food, there are groups of exhausted men – many with blackened and bloodied faces and other injuries – dozing on the streets.

Most of Maidan’s hard surfaces have been torn up, for missiles.

Fires burn all around – the no man’s land separating the militia forces and protestors is just a large fire maybe 20 to 30 feet wide, which protestors constantly feed; plus their shields and a few odd bits of metal sheeting which they have put up to their front.

The Trade Union building – protest HQ – has flames licking out of many windows.

Men and women are scouring the whole area around Maidan for fuel – trees have been cut down, large wheelie-bins are being emoved to the scene – everything feeds the flames.

It’s a moving picture, nothing I’ve seen before compares to the scene of carnage and exhaustion; but the mood on the protest side seems determined.

The security forces have failed to secure the streets leading north, more because no-one has told then to than any action on the protestors’ part – so cars are turning up with petrol (for petrol bombs) and tyres secreted away.

Some Afghan War vets started talking to me, showing me their medals from Afghanistan.

They were saying ‘Free Ukraine’ and hugging people, a rare sign of emotion here. They seemed to feel that they had gained a kind of victory.

A few people are throwing stones and there is the odd explosion from the fires and I think stun grenades from the other side; but it was mostly calm when I was there.

A guy I know spent all night there, I just missed him as he left for work (!!) just before I got there.

Protesters in Indepedence Square in December
Protesters in Indepedence Square in December

As I was walking towards my office some Kyivans were beginning to arrive – there was one group of about 200 students in full battle gear, plus other people walking in; some with helmets and clubs in plastic bags.

All my work is cancelled. Most shops are closed, and there is relatively little traffic around. God only knows what comes next.

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