The short-lived adoption of laws limiting peaceful protests in Ukraine has sparked violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters on and off since January 19, 2014. The dramatic photos of the tense confrontations, sometimes shrouded in black smoke billowing from nearby burning vehicles, have circulated and stunned worldwide.
The photos that seldom get play in mainstream media, however, are those of the human side of the long and harsh Euromaiden protests, as they are known, seen in images published on social media and photo stream accounts by protesters and journalists on the ground.
These photos document how protesters have assisted one another to function as normally as possible, while attempting to topple a government they find to be corrupt and failing. Aside from keeping each other safe and warm, protesters often help those passing by to make it through the crowds and below-zero Ukrainian winter weather. Volunteers also provide free medical help to both sides of the protests.
A member of volunteer medical aid brigades in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.
An elderly woman pouring hot tea for protesters. Photo by Olha Harbovska. Used with permission.
People have set up improvised kitchens and tea stations in Kyiv and other cities to keep fellow keep protesters fed and warm. Volunteers also clean snow and remove garbage from the protest sites.
A man giving out sandwiches to protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska. Used with permission.
Another tea station to keep protesters warm. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101. Used with permission.
A woman volunteering to clean protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.
A man minds several cauldrons of food being prepared for protesters, making sure the meal doesn't burn. Photo by Clashdot user Volye101. Used with permission.
Amazingly, and as more proof that humans are social and creative creatures under any circumstances, entertainment and music in particular have been a huge part of keeping up morale during Euromaidan rallies. Sean Lennon, the son of legendary musician John Lennon, was moved when he saw how a live rendition of his father's famed song “Imagine” had been used during Euromaidan to send a message of peaceful retaliation against the establishment in Ukraine, calling it “awesome” on his Facebook. Live music remains a regular fixture at Euromaidan rallies throughout the country, an example of which is shown below:
A man playing the violin to a protester in a Kyiv underground passage. Photo by Olha Harbovska. Used with permission.
There has also been a lot of visual creativity, with protesters creating posters, painting helmets, tents, etc.
A woman painting a tent at the main protest grounds in Kyiv. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.
Despite clashes with police and coordinated police crackdowns on the protests, with six civilian deaths so far and thousands injured, the protesters often talk and interact with police agents during the protests, sometimes finding a common language and common ground. Below is a photo of a Ukrainian police officer on duty during the protests, who seems happy to have reached an agreement with the protesters to keep the peace and not use force:
A smiling policeman. He just promised not to use force against protesters. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska. Used with permission.
A volunteer defender of protest grounds in Kyiv who initiated the creation of human chain between the protesters and the police to prevent provocations and violence. Photo by the creator of Facebook page “Maidaners”. Used with permission.