Welcome   |   Login   |   Sign Up   |

UKRAINE/ Voices from the Majdan

MARTA DELL’ASTA describes what really happened at Maidan, the square in Kiev which was the starting point of Ukrainian events, and how the Ukraine crisis can be a lesson for other countries

Infophoto Infophoto

What is Maidan, the “square” in Ukrainian, and now the quintessential site of the protest? Of course, “Maidan is peaceful, tenaciously peaceful, and not the invasion of extremist groups, on which we tend to focus all our attention,” as Olga Sedakova wrote.

To begin with, there has been the continued presence of tens of thousands of people in Independence Square in Kiev day and night for three months, from November 22, 2013 to February 24, 2014. There were mountains of clothes, food and medicine brought by people. In addition, there were military tents and camping equipment, firewood, and private cars made available for rescue and teams to keep the public order. And then there were the collections, hospitality, and care of the wounded in private homes.

But in addition to this massive surge of solidarity, the Maidan was, for its ability to organize and tireless determination to stem the wave of violence, a test of high civic maturity and Christian mercy. On the political front, there was the awakening of human dignity, overcoming fear, the opening to hope, the certainty that the person cannot be less than the moment that is making history.

Now that the focus of events has moved elsewhere, it remains that Maidan is not a conclusive event with a hundred victims to be remembered, but it is beginning its second life. We need to understand what we have seen happen. The testimonies speak of an extraordinary, and dramatic, human and civil experience. It is a new way to stand in front of politics and to embody the values of Europe. The political and military outcomes which followed are not the denial or the failure of Maidan, but the necessary confrontation with the great political entity and its global views.

The challenge is to understand whether the person has a role in politics, if a Europe of the people is a reasonable and practicable ideal, if hope, in short, and the unexpected have a place still in the planetary mechanisms. Or if these mechanisms are more important than what moved them at the origin: the person and his freedom.

This is a challenge that affects not only Ukraine, but all of us, and in particular, Russia, as evidenced by some witnesses.


The day after the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation, the day of the strategic “defeat” of Kiev, Vitalij Portnikov, in an article titled “The Victory of Ukraine” wrote: “Even if it is in full political and economic crisis, even if it were to win against the crazy Russian pressure and the brutal aggression of Moscow, even if it has lost a part of its territory, Ukraine is gradually becoming a natural part of the civilized world and a leader in the post-Soviet world. It is the country which has offered a new model of civilized behavior, the country that faces economic reforms, the country where the citizen controls the state and not vice versa, and the country where you do not grant unlimited allegiance to the `boss’. If Ukraine succeeds, it means that all the others can succeed as well, including Russia.