With the turmoil going on in Ukraine, we were lucky enough to receive this guest post from Maria Kruk, a local who lives there. It provides a real insight into what it’s like to live in a country in conflict and how quickly historical sites from another age can become the scene of contemporary history.
It is no new news that Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine has become an epicentre of political crisis and furious protests and riots. Who could imagine something like that might happen in my beloved and truly charming city of Kyiv?
Despite the fallen victims, injuries and blood spilled in the heart of the city, the rally has gained momentum and some sort of success, which cannot be said about urban landscape. Much of the city centre has been damaged by the crisis.
Major changes in Kyiv, Ukraine
The city is associated with Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the core of a movement called Euromaidan revolution. It also has a tent city of activists where dozens of vendors and check points crowd a broad street that leads to to the main area of the Maidan’s protest scene.
For weeks people from all over Ukraine arrived here to join the riots and activists; the same can be said of foreigners, who eagerly took photos, get acquainted with Maidan “residents”, share food with them and listen to long yet exciting stories about local livelihood.
Notwithstanding ruined and blackened buildings and burning tyres surrounding the area, this place still impresses people – on Maidan Nezalezhnosti the history of the entire country has been critically changed.
Instytutskaya Street, one of the neighbouring roads to Maidan and a host to several administrative buildings, will no longer carry its name. According to one of the latest projects adopted by Ukrainian Parliament, it is going to be renamed to Heroes of Heaven Hundred St.
This title was given independently to those who sacrificed their lives in course of the fights, with multiple memorial boards appearing every now and then in the area to pay tributes to their memory.
In honour of the dead
On the Day of Mourning, held in February to honour the lives lost in the crisis, Ukrainians created a path of candles and flowers up to the highest barricade on Instytutskaya Street. Like in Kyiv, many cities in Ukraine have had certain boulevards and alleys renamed.
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery is one of the highlights of Kyiv architecture, the completion of which dates back to the 11th century. Its historic and cultural value goes without saying.
However, during the revolution it has also served as a hospital and a shelter for the injured and the Ukrainians shot on Maidan. It is here common Kievans have brought foods, medicines, clothing, blankets, and all sorts of help.
Many watched news right in the monastery and followed the events on Euromaidan. The monastery became the cradle of peace and help while the struggle continued.
Damage to the city of Kyiv, Ukraine
One of the most damaged places in Kyiv is Dynamo Stadium on Grushevskogo St, where the first Molotov Cocktails were thrown in January.
The bronze statue of Valeriy Lobanovskyi, a legendary coach of Kyiv FC Dynamo, was subjected to fierce vandalism. FC has promised to renovate the place and restore its significance.
One more monument, removed for good in Kyiv, was a statue of Vladimir Lenin on Bessarabska Square. This was possibly the very first “bronze victim” of the rally; it was demolished by people during one of the November meetings and was widely seen in the mass media.
Monuments to communist figures were destroyed in other cities and towns in Ukraine, launching some sort of a trend in the country. There were several claims from the Communist Party to put a new monument on the sites that were damaged.
Sights to see in Kyiv
In contrast, at present one attraction might be added to the list of Kyiv travel sites and that is the residence of the former President of Ukraine. The mansion and the area around it is peppered with outrageous and at the same time gorgeous sights, including golden adornments, a private Zoo, galleon, a collection of retro cars, greenhouses and many-many more places.
Sightseeing takes a few hours, and visitors can see the luxury the politician lived in, which is something of most of our wildest dreams.
Today, the Euromaidan rally continues in the face of Crimea’s political crisis. Though I truly hope no more victims, both human and cultural, will appear and add more sorrow and grief to the modern history of Ukraine and its people.