January 27, 2014

Maidan inside out

In the last days I received multiple requests to translate my posts for foreign readers, as they have very limited information about the happenings in Ukraine. Sharing and distribution is appreciated.

Пост на русском (post in Russian)

It is time to look into Maidan more carefully, as it has become a bit quieter in Kiev. Almost everybody has heard the word “Maidan” but still hardly knows what Maidan looks like. The centre of Kiev, which is Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), the main street (Khreshchatyk), European Square and neighboring streets are occupied by all the protesters. They have occupied several buildings of the administration block where now people can get warm, receive medical help and clothes at special stations. The streets are covered in tents that shelter protesters from all over the country.

Everything on Maidan is perfectly organized. It reminds of a small state with its own army, armory which consists of bottles, sticks and stones, food stock, mass media, shops and, of course, well-functioning border control. The approach lane is blocked with massive barricades. Maidan with its watchtowers, barbed wire and numerous guards looks like a maximum security penal colony. It is protected by fighters whose effective weapon consists of sticks, thick metallic chains and Molotov cocktails. The fighters keep to the military discipline: they march and study the basics of street battle in their free time. They are divided into troops, each with its own commanding officer, aid man and even banner-bearer.
There is everything for living on Maidan. One can get food, all the necessary clothes, defence and medical aid in case one gets wounded. Some people cam here two months ago and stayed. The living conditions are obviously rather poor, since people are using street toilets, getting warmed by fires and sleeping in unheated tents.

I want a part of Maidan to be domed in glass to become a museum when Ukraine finally comes out of the political crisis. Nowadays Maidan is the main Kiev point of interest and its part should be transmitted over to the next generations. It is true art.

Let us start with the map below. I painted Maidan in pink. The red lines show the barricades. The black numbers correspond to the photos in which you can see the barricades. I hope the map can guide you through. I think someone should have already made a virtual tour down Maidan.

Full size map

01. One of the main barricades in Institutskaya Street. The barricade has been stormed several times and it is now the most stable. You see its exterior. Note that at the front this 5-meter-high barricade is stabilized with ropes, hedgehogs and barrels.

02. The top view. Look at the several barrier-lines on the left.

03. The view as seen from the fighters’ side.

04. The construction is very massive and stable. I doubt the fact it can be knocked down by a bulldozer. They are joking on Maidan that the only way to knock them down is to air-bomb.

05. The barricades have turned into Kiev’s showplaces: both tourists and locals take pictures in front of them.

06. Another barricade in Khreshchatyk Street.

07. Here you can also see several barrier-lines. The barricade itself, a buffer strip and a barbed-wire fence.

08. Maidan’s perimeter is well-protected against trespassing. I will be not surprised if one day it is fortified with minefields. Perhaps it already is

09. All the sideways are blocked.

10. Some tires with barbed wire. They are set afire upon any attack.



13. There’s a strict discipline on the barricades. The exit and entrance are situated on the opposite sides for streams of people not to cross. Numerous fighters are maintaining order.

14. The exit

15. The entrance

16. Another entrance to Independence Square. Note the donation box. People give money for Maidan and it is collected in such boxes which are situated at every entrance.

17. A watchtower.

18. Maidan territory was enlarged 3 days ago and since then one of the barricades has been standing at the entrance into Khreshchatyk Metro Station.

19. Half of the hall is covered in sacks. People are getting warmed in the hall. The staff are bearing with these “visitors”.

20. The metro is operating as usual.

21. The barricades are usually 4-5 meters high.

22. The paving is being pried out and used as a throwing weapon.

23. Stones and paving are piled up at the foot of each barricade to use in case of attack.

24. Another thing to mention: all approaches to the barricades have been watered to ice up with only a narrow passage left for fighters to sneak through. In case of attack the enemy will slip down.

25. Another barricade.


27. Sometimes the passages are very narrow, just for one person to get in. So there is no entry onto Maidan for stout people anymore!

28. All the shops inside Maidan territory are safe and operating as usual by their own choice. For the past two months there has been no looting.

29. A barricade guard.


31. There no chance to storm such a barricade but with tanks.

32. The undeground walkways are either blocked or their ventilation grills are removed to prevent attacks from under.

33. The famous barricades in Hrushevskogo Street. I have reported on them lots of times. All the fights are taking place here.


35. The tents in Khreshchatyk Street.

36. This territory was previously used for traffic while now it is only for pedestrians.

37. This is the centre of Maidan.

38. People, tents, flags. For 2 months already.

39. The stage in the centre where some political activists are giving speeches almost non-stop.

40. The tents for political activists.

41. The tents for ordinary activists.

42. The tent camp basically reminds of a deprived area but clean and with lots of banners.

43. The entrance into Maidan is open. People have got used to it and cross it to get to work or shops.

44. More tents


46. A warm-up station. Look at the shields next to the entrance.

47. The people are getting warmed at barrels and hand-made stoves.

48. The wall for the Memory of the Fallen next to Trade Union Building.

49. Mass-media centre.

50. One can see political cartoons and banners everywhere here.

51. Modern art

52. Political campaign.



55. Some people are bringing firewood, clothes, food and meds. Such volunteers are standing in lines of cars to get the stuff loaded off.

56. Food is cooked at special stations. Borsch is the most common dish.


58. People are cooking porridge.


60. Borsch is served in glasses.



63. Buckwheat porridge, boiled potatoes or macaroni with meat or tinned meat.

64. Sandwiches.

65. Boxes with cigarettes are everywhere.

66. Note that all the food stands, cafes or drive-in coffee-houses are still working. One can take borsch for free on Maidan or buy kebab at a food stand. No one tries to get rid of the sellers. Loads of clients make the cafes’ business look well instead.


68. The pressed snow from the streets is stuffed into sacks which in their turn are used to stabilize the barricades. It is important to use pressed snow to make the sacks hard and fit tight.

69. Sometimes sacks are filled with snow.

70. The pit where people take snow.

71. If the snow is soft, it is watered in sacks to ice them up. When the sacks are piled up on barricades, they are watered again.

72. A guard’s bat.


74. Maidan proved to be Kiev’s main point of interest long ago. Fridgies with photos of Maidan and political attributes are sold everywhere here.


76. No Christmas tree toy or ball has been stolen from the tree.

Maidan is all day long and for a long time

Previous post:
Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine
The other side of Maidan