Sunday, May 18, 2014

Oleksandr Suprunyuk. Interview from the Maidan.

Maidan camp, March 24, 2014.
Oleksandr Suprunyuk, Netishyn town, Khmelnytsky regionentrepreneur.

- Why did you come to the Maidan? When exactly did you decide to park at the place and what grassroot movements took place at the Maidan overall? Who came and when? Which movements developed? Members of which movements have left or lost interest? What is happening now?

This is not my first time to be at the Maidan. I have teamed up with the Asambleya (The Assembly) civil movement group and The Small and Medium-size Enterprises in Ukraine, as well as ‘Vilnyi Prostir’ civil movement. We have actively participated in various protests, car rallies and other activities to defend our members and resist the  passing of the draconian Tax Lawbook in 2010.
In 2010 we pitched tents in the Maidan. They got torn down. There’s nothing new in presence here. But this particular Maidan – probably it was our last hope for saving Ukraine from all this oppression which Yanukovych and his criminal regime has brought along. It inoculated totalitarianism in Ukraine which practically began to turn into a dictator’s sanctuary where I personally had two options – either run away from the country or be opressed and be a person with no future.
That’s why I had no other choice than to be here, in the Maidan – for everything that we had been doing at the Maidan since 2004, for the active position that we have taken up in Ukraine – to defend the rights of entrepreneurs and regular citizens of Ukraine. I don’t think I would have been able to avoid this government’s criminal opressions if it has won.

- What other movements did take place?

I did not feel the need to lead or coordinate people. I just came to this Maidan as a common citizen. This Maidan is a very unique community of people who are self-organized based on the ideas that I see. This is the highest expression of organization when the state plays minimal role and the society begins to develop a new country by cooperation and support. Up until recently I had not seen a neccesity to guide or to direct anybody. I have attempted to hold various workshops, but recent events forced me to physically defend myself, my teammates, comrades and brothers here, in this Maidan. Unfortunately, I had no time for theoretical operations and to share the experience. I’ve been here since November 23rd. I came here on November 21st when the very first protests of journalists and students took place. I asked my son to come and see what was happening. He studies philosophy at Shevchenko University. Next day he came here on his own free will. On November 2nd we held a townsmeeting in Slavuta which is a regional center of Khmelnytskyi oblast (region). This is where we’ve created the Shtab Sprotyvu (Resistance Headquarter), next day I came here to coordinate our actions with Slavuta and Netishyn Headquarters. And this is where we have stayed since November 23rd on, my son and daughter and I, my comrades from the Assambleya and the Vilnyi Prostir and other organizations that we have had since the Tax Maidan and other protests. We have always had friends here. One of them, my friend from Kirovohrad oblast (region) Vitya Chalenko, was killed. When these students were chased away, we have decided to provide people with food because it was a big problem before December. The entire Maidan had hundreds of thousands of people but the meals were spontaneous, there was no hot food. We are very grateful to the people of Kyiv for their active help back then and even now because enough has been provided even till now. I also did have a kitchenette at the Slavuta fellowship, which we have brought here. My friends and I had a bus that was transformed into a mobile office. It had sleeping berths, workstation for journalists. We have held meetings there. We brought this bus, set up a field kitchen and the tents that we had. Then we started feeding the Maidan. Next to us, there was another field kitchen organized by students in November. They were making hot tea here and we have always collaborated with them. Guys from Lviv had put out their canteen.  So the three of our entities helped each other. Overall individual entities, communities helped one another. Next to us, sotnyas (Сossack squads) were founded. A military encampment was organized although unarmed. We felt there was a need for more serious self-organization because there have been threats and arms were used against us. We decided to form a sotnya – 38th Sotnya. After the February 20th fatalities when three of our guys were killed, we have named our squad in one of the victim’s memory. We are Ustym Holodnyuk 38th Sotnya.
In addition we have decided to fill in the void at the Maidan by publishing a newspaper titled ‘Terytoriya Voli’ (Freedom Territory). These are just the projects that have been founded here, during the Maidan 2014 in Kyiv.

- As far as Territory Communities go, you collaborated with Rimma Bilotserkivska.

Yes, this is under Vilnyi Prostir (Freedom Space). We are developing three directions – Self-defence, Collaboration and Cooperation. In fact this is the foundation of the Maidan movement. And maybe the fact that it has developed effortlessly proves that we were working in the right direction. Now everybody talks about the Territory Communities. Pretty much all the demands to the EU are in step with the demands we voice in the Maidan, right? The demand for decentralisation and passing the law for local self-government empowerment distribution, is also in step with the Territory Communities. How far ‘they’ will go in passing the laws is another matter but it is the Territory Communities that will empower each individual.

- And by ‘them’ you mean the Territory Communities initiators?

No, not the initiators but those who stole this power from us oligarchs and our legislative servants.

- What frictions or conflicts between the advocacy groups took place at various points? Or between the advocacy groups and people? Were there conflicts regarding, for instance, the Opposition, ‘Svoboda’ (nationalist party), and overall different forces in the Maidan?

The Maidan can be different at any given time. It has been evolving, transforming based on challenges we had to face. In the beginning it had a student, nightclub vibe, positive and joyful though the demands voiced were pretty serious: EU etc. When they were chased away, things got much more radical, and people were ready to firmly defend their rights but again – these were peaceful protests, and a proper reaction was always one step away. But every time it was a reaction of peaceful people to our government’s challenges, which were impersonated in the Berkut (special police force) or in ‘law enforcement agencies’ and their rather terrorist actions. Apart from the official actions the government also took unofficial actions - kidnappings, threats, unlawful arrests, for instance, for having a fuel canister in the car. It is not prohibited, and there can’t be even a debate about it. Not to mention the sanctions for firewood in the cars, or for a peaceful auto rally protest to the president’s house.
And regarding your question about conflicts at the Maidan… They did take place after December 10th-11th. We stood here completely unarmed, with no means of defence, with no shields or canes – against the fully armed Berkut and internal troops. This line was crossed near Shevchenko Region Court where Vasylkiv terrorists were judged. We then blocked the Berkut by puncturing their tires, and the Berkut surrendered, and we took them out of the buses.
That's when conflicts started because on November 30th some people witnessed beating, breaking of arms and legs of students, an hour before that they had witnessed this same Berkut from the bus – beating the hell out of people, when alive flesh was torn by sharp objects and then tissues, muscles and legs  were fractured. That’s when people were very angry or even antagonistic. They demanded immediate justice, or simply lynching because the government cynically justified cruelty of the police while punishing people for peaceful declaration of will. That was a serious conflict when people were hard to stop. Some protesters were trying to let them through and the other half was ready to tear them apart. It was a conflict with a certain part of the protesters. Later, when you start talking to those people and explain, things would calm down, and we did manage to stop them, but ever since conflicts like this took place. Clearly, there always were double agents who were making things harder, who were trying to turn all the Maidan into an uncontrollable slaughter.
We succeeded to keep everything under control until the very end of the opposition. Because this time there were no pogroms, no cars being burned etc. – we did not do any of that. Till the most recent time some fools tried to provoke – or maybe just out of stupidity ­– they wanted to break a ‘Nike’ shop window. But right away he was taken up on stage and for half an hour lectured first by the worldly, then by priesthood. Self-defence assigned guards near the store, they covered it with a shield, next morning the owners came over and fixed everything. But of course, after this slaughter took place and these terrible events of February 18th-20th this crowd was impossible to stop.

- What about other conflicts between the Maidan participants, for instance, splitting the budget, or maybe problems choosing who would go on stage?

There is constantly a conflict of interests here at the Maidan – between political part, parties, parliament part of the parties vs the community. We did bear this Opposition. We knew their cost very well. Many people had illusions that at the end got dispelled. We saw that dullness of the Opposition. They are hesitant and inert, they did not have a plan here at the Maidan, thus they bore with us and we bore with them. But good thing is that while we had such Parliament Opposition (which now is our government and is showing its paces) – our remains of illusions about relying on some other forces were dispelled. Secondly, we bore with that Opposition but in the meantime it was legitimate, because we approved of it. This gave certain opportunities for informal civil movements (about 3-5% of the Maidan were represented as parties while the amount of people in the civil organizations was not much bigger). Those were just the people who arrived here and united based on locations they were from, or they would stand together on barricades, meet one another and form a spontaneous association. For instance, we came from Khmelnytskyi oblast and immediately met Lviv guys, we also met students, youth, and that is how we grouped together. Some people dropped out, other people we did not like – that is how associations formed. What is good about this Opposition is that if only informal associations stayed here, we would all have broken up after a few days. But here – we bore the Opposition on the stage, we resented it, but we could also discuss amongst ourselves. This is what helped us to not fall apart. We do have a sad experience of the previous Maidan falling apart just because we had no clear structure.

- Seems like those two  are not enemies but competitors – Yanukovych and official government vs Opposition?

It was clear that there were two clans who were fighting and are fighting now for the power in Ukraine. Again, they all are controlled by oligarchs.  Oligarchs can be local, regional, but also all-Ukrainian or even transnational. But we consider only these five families – Akhmetovs, Pinchuks and that’s it. But oligarchs are the ones who have power, money and business in one. They use their power in order to accumulate capital. They are right on locations. And so they are in a conflict, and they fight for the power, and there are civil movements – people who are rid of this power. And we learned that power is not something to fight for, so we approach these various clans, one after another, and support them, while some of them fool us less and the other ones do more. But what’s happenning now is we understand that this power embodied by both of them are in the past, and we need to form a new political elite. We need a powerful civil movement. We understand it all perfectly but everybody sees it differently, and that’s where we have a problem because once we try to map something, politicians immediately show up. That’s how it had been up until recently, and the politicians would either cut things off, or tear them down, or head them and then do what happenned to the Maidan Civil Movement or Narodna Rada (People’s Union) and to other powerful movements. Again, if power that exists now relied on people’s support, if they could share their power, they would have had a very powerful ally. But in fact they rid themselves of a powerful organization, which they could control actions through. There are a few dozens of groups at the Maidan who are in touch with one another and who are easy to manipulate because they don’t have access to all the information. Unfortunately, there always have been double agents; absolutely there are Russian double agents here, and the Party of Regions agents who are trying to manipulate the Maidan.
That is dangerous because if they succeed ‘rocking’, directing all the anger against this current government – they will succeed destabilizing the state of Ukraine, which is very beneficial for Putin. Because if the country is a mess and there is no legitimate government, nobody will give us money. And without loans and outside help that Europe, America, Japan and other countries are seriously supplying (like there once was Marshall Plan for Europe), there is no hope that we can get out of this hole Yanukovych and other oligarchs forced us into. If we are under these double agents’ thumb, we can lose Ukraine.

- You mentioned you were trying to build up horizontal connections.

From day one there were little crowds and ideas, let’s say, a few tents next to one another started communication, “Let’s make an association, for example, ‘The Maidan’, or a coordinating committee based on the tents, or based on organizations, – basically, let’s found an association that would coordinate the Maidan’s actions. There were various entities, various naïve people who came here for the first time, god knows where from. They had just gotten up after a sopor; they had been making a living somewhere and suddenly became revolutionaries, with no experience and with a naïve vision of all of this. They think they can come, slam fist on the table – and everything will get clear. ‘All the bastards, everybody has to get kicked out, we have to take everything and split – and everything will be good’. And there were more serious associations that would see things more positively; they wanted an organization behind them named ‘The Maidan’. And immediately ‘Viche (Assembly)’ announced that they were the ones who founded  ‘The Maidan’. Imagine, tomorrow we have to create such an organization and today they steal the idea and announce it. And for instance, the way it happened to 'The Maidan'. It was announced, people were eager, ‘we are ready to work, we are holding a speech already’. Two days later – nobody works any more and not even going to. Our comrade came to Trade Unions House and said, ‘sign me up for The Maidan organization’ – ‘What is The Maidan?’ Nobody knew anything, they just made a note somewhere on a piece of paper. Then when they saw people took an active interest, that there was the tent – they registered The Maidan organization. But where is it now?

- When barricades on Hrushevskyi street started expanding Yatsenyuk was yelling from the stage 'The Maidan is expanding'.

The thing is…

- A question about money. When there were self-organized money boxes, some people would come and say, 'You only spend for yourselves'. They would say, 'You all split into small groups while there must be just one budget'.

Apart from rumours – I don’t know any real proof of massive abuse of finances or a massive produce thefts. I personally was receiving produce from Trade Unions House and I have seen all these moneyboxes. And some scam, as always, took place. Masked under charity, for example, for the cancerous kids. These scambags didn’t go anywhere. And the fact that they were trying to feast at the Maidan is pretty clear. I once happened to see an instruction of the Security Service of Ukrainian Rebel Army ‘How to identify agents of the NKVD (Soviet Internal Affairs Commisariat)’. These agents want to take leading positions that deal with employment, information, decision-making and always finances… They damage us by sabotaging decisions in the most crucial moment. Also – it was always spreading information about money theft. This always causes failure of people’s trust. But let me tell you, at this Maidan all of these abuses, compared to all that bureaucratic system that we have had, are like day and night. I even once saw a moneybox that some kids were walking with for Maydan needs all the way near Ocean Plaza, 5 kilometres away from the Maidan. Clearly, these were not from the Maidan.
At some point, money collections were centralized. Expences were huge. The Opposition, of course, also chip in for the Maidan… The stage costs money and  a bio toilet is 250 hryvnyas a day. We paid half a million for the Trade Union House rent. We paid from our own pocket, or from oligarchs’ pockets, but also from the people’s money box. But, again, people did not trust common moneyboxes. That’s why some money was chipped into a common box and some of it they would bring directly to our kitchen, or just bring fuel… Sometimes they would bring money, sometimes produce, and 80-90% of our supplies were not coming from the centralized box. Especially because our money was also collected on locations we had come from.  People trusted us because they knew what we did here. We reported. In Slavuta we collected about a hundred thousand hryvnyas, and that is only in one region. Same amount was collected in Netishyn, maybe even more. Moreover, more than a thousand people were sent over in the first two months. A big work was done; people supplied almost all of the Maidan.

- How long did it take to collect a hundred thousand Hryvnyas?

That is what they sent to the Maidan just financially, in the first two months. But also they sent buses with people. People from Kirovohrad oblast, Vinnytsya oblast, Odessa would come to us and bring us warm cloths, everything was constantly refilled here.

- How do you supply yourself with food? What do you know about movements that supplied the Maidan with food? Like, for instanstance, in other countries people go to supermarkets and demand food.

We didn’t go to the extent of demanding. What happened was people from WOG would come and give coupons for generators. It’s clear that the owner is a person from the Party of Regions. Possibly, they were doing it to neutralize the negativity that people felt against the party and their boycot of WOG. But I know they had given out a few tons of fuel in a few days.  ‘Epicenter’ was buying their way out, too. We had a few dozens of volonteers who assigned themselves in the kitchen. We would announce what we were missing – and they immediately would bring all we needed. From food to equipment to tents, to generators – people were ready to help with anything they could. Those are the people who could not be standing here, from various social standings. Poor people  who have four kids brought us food they cooked. Technically they took it away from their kids. A 12-year-old girl brought us a piece of chocolate. But also there were high officials who would bring dozens of kilos of frozen chickens. That was a judge of Supreme Court. For the Automaidan (car rally), a Vice Minister joined us. It does not matter if she was acting or not – she was still an official. When the Automaidan went to Yanukovych’s home… It would be nice to show a picture to Medvedev and Putin how ‘bums’ go to Yanukovych’s. First go ‘Range Rover’, ‘Mazda X7’, ‘Toyota Prado’ etc. Those are the ones that were talked about on Russian TV as sloths and bums that were standing in the Maidan. That was on the 29th of December. We tried to yell through to him here in the Maidan. We didn’t get through – so we went to Mezhyhirya to knock his door.

- How was the Automaidan organized?

It was organized same way everything was organized at the Maidan... Everybody did what they could and what they felt had to be done. We did an Automaidan, there was an Automaidan that other people did, it was not a unique invention. There was a Road Control – those guys were opposing the road militia. By learning from experience, people would unite and act. But then every time something unexpected would happen. Sometimes coming from the government, sometimes from the Opposition. That’s how the Maidan was unique – it had no single governace but a civil movement was huge. The Automaidan is a civil movement, too. It all happened one after another: first students got out and showed themselves. Then guys, men, afghani veterans stood out and did not let the Berkut in here, so that gave a psychological victory. Then other guys showed up, Ihor Lutsenko, some more guys from the Maidan, Ruslana. Then the Automaidan shone, next there was a car rally, next something else happenned. Every time there was some spontaneous unrest. Who expected, who could have possibly planned arresting the Berkut near the Shevchenko Region Court on Peremoha prospect? Nobody. The Automaidan simply noticed them and blocked and, instead of running away, they started pushing for their rights and such a huge crowd accumulated that at 11 o’clock there were about 50 people but at 11.30 pm it was a few thousands of cars, and so many people that the Berkut could not physically run away from there. Who expected that? Nobody. This kind of things troubles the society.

- But they could not get together like that all the time. They did it often back then, but now?

Who would have known that it was possible to stand through in the Maidan for 4 months? We laughed that we would celebrate the 8th of March in the Maidan, even New Year in the Maidan was just a joke. But it turned out to be real, and now at least until the elections, this Maidan will be standing. Not as big as it is now, it does not need to be this big.
The ones who came here first – some of them stayed, some of them maybe got disappointed or because of some things to do could not stand here, but every time a new type of people would show up here who would care for these problems. I know Kyivans who passively supported, but after January 19th, after events on Hrushevskyi street, when people were already shot, they understood.  They said, ‘Now, this is our business. They are already knocking on our windows and doors’. And they came out here to the Maidan. They do not sit here all day long, but every day they come here for two or three hours. There are Kyivans in our sotnya who come here at spare time, they take shifts, take training etc. It’s already a few dozens of people who are always here at their spare time.

- Again, as far as money goes. The common money box of the Maidan and your movement. How can one explain people’s standing for a few weeks, how were they supplied? What did they say to their bosses when they left their jobs for such a long time?

We already spoke about the money. As far as people’s motivation  goes – some people are businessmen like me. I have department heads, I have a wife who is substituting me over there so I can be here almost all the time. I can come home for a day or two and solve some urgent matters, then everything keeps going. There are other guys who are laid off, some business people closed their small businesses and are staying here because they think this is the place to be. There are people whose bosses let them go because they could not go themselves. Those are the least but they do exist. There are people who left their work. There are these girls here who have been at the Maidan for 4 months, and their bosses just covered for them. Obviously, they don’t get paid. Some people take shifts – so they come here for a few days and then come back to work. Many people are working but they are on a constant standby. They come here at the first sign. Just like me. When on December 10-11th there were three thousand people, or even less, and when an assault happened – dozens of thousands Kyivans came and protected the Maidan. Same thing happened on Hrushevskyi Street. So when needed - people do come here. There is a cartoon in which somebody is saying to Yanukovych, ‘you said to beat them up – and we did but they multiplied. Maybe that’s how they reproduce.’ It already went so far that people react to this aggression properly. Not by aggression but by coming here and defending themselves and others because they are fed up. So don’t get these illusions that the Maidan is dissipating now. If there is a need – people come.

- Does a sotnya member move to another sotnya because of looting or violence or too tough rules in this sotnya? And what about this position of some people ‘I want to kick Yanukovych off but I don’t want to go to barricades and put myself under the bullets.’? Should one shoot or just defend themselves? Different ways of using violence. There is a saying ‘Keep the arms but try your best to minimize its use’. When did your ideas regarding arms use change?

A question regarding violence in sotnyas is rather strange, I didn’t notice that. I can’t say that some sotnyas have bullying or mobstery. Until this junta crossed the line, the Maidan was very tolerant, very peaceful. There were isolated cases, for instance, when ‘Afghanis’, people who had gone through hard challenges and contusions, would collapse. But they sorted things out among themselves. Another thing is our sotnya in particular – there is a certain politics inside the sotnya. We have discipline. Alcohol is banned. We have a tough control and a requirement for nobody to cross the sotnya’s borders, i.e. Maidan’s borders. The reason for this, again, is that up until recently we were in a hostile encirclement. As of today there are double agents who can create a precendent or provoke a fight. For example, recently a guy was killed outside the Maidan. Some things are dangerous for our people, thus we made such a decision. Some sotnyas take it more easy, people there can come and go. They don’t have such a record. If there is a sleeping berth, you are staying, if there is no – you go elsewhere. So it depends on an inside politics.
We don’t take part in patrolling outside the Maidan. Only if there is a communal need, for example, searching for the killed ones in the woods, which took place this Sunday, or reinforcement of Verhovna Rada’s  (Parliament) guard. We don’t participate in things that other sotnyas do, like guarding buisinesses or spaces by applications. Only once did we help identifying double agents who came over to our friends. These friends prepared food for us. So while a restaurant was preparing food for us, some shady representatives of pseudo-‘Samooborona (Self-defence)’ came over and asked if they wanted to help out Samooborona. We decided to identify the guys. We came at the time they set but these guys did not show up. So we put a patrol near the place for a few hours to prevent a fight.

- To shoot or to defend yourself? How do you use arms?

Regarding the arms. Information about the use of the arms in the  Maidan is blown out of proportions. Those were the rumours. I have seen very few isolated cases when people came to the Maidan with arms. Plus it was either a hunters rifle, or a pistol that shoots with little balls. That was an air pistol that does not even require a permit. But regarding AKs in the Maidan – they appeared only after February 20th. Maybe somebody has seen something but I didn’t. In our sotnya, there is still no arms. After Russia attacked Crimea, we bought dummy deactivated AKMs and AK-47s for the guys to get training because we don’t know further actions of Russia and we have to be ready. But in general – even in the past I was for the permit for arms for all the proper people who fit certain criteria. Now I am for every adult person, a man and as an option a woman, to take a certain course and get accepted to Samooborona, like People’s Militia, like, for instance, in Germany or Switzerland and other countries, and for them to be able to defend themselves, their family and their country. Because now we see that we have an unarmed and combat-inaffective army and we are defenceless.

- In Switzerland, for instance, everybody has arms at home but they are packed and sealed.

That’s a technical question. It should not be like, ‘I’ve taken an AK and walk around wherever I want’. It should be a tough responsibility and a criminal liability for wrongful use of arms. 

- When did arms appear in the Maidan? What do you think about its use? Who used the arms? What did you think when it appeared? How were you getting used to its use?

When a human is under a threat, when you can be killed for real, when against you is an armada of people who are supposed to be defending you but instead they are trying to kill and destroy you... the reaction is only one – to defend yourself, your friends and your country in all possible ways. And I was ready to take arms and defend. If somebody had given it to me, I would have taken it.

 - I know you had a certain relationship to masks and canes...

Let me finish telling about February 18th through 20th events. It was a slaughter, and two out of three guys from our sotnya who died, died not because they had arms but because they were holding stretches. One of them, Vitya Chmilenko, is on a video. He ran with stretches and bent down to take the injured – and immediately fell because he got shot. He did not have arms in his hands. Ustym Holodnyuk was covering a hand-barrow with a shield and was approaching the injured in order to get him.

- Is it possible hand barrows were mistaken for smith else?

Absolutely not. How can red hand barrows be confused for anything?..
Masks, helmets and canes were needed when there was a threat. They were needed because people were afraid of being identified and later repressed in case we lose or in case we get found in the Maidan. Now that Yanukovych is kicked off and there is no threat – it is absurd to walk equipped, with masks, with arms around the Maidan. Not only it is not necessary, but also it is dangerous. Masks let double agents blend in. But if the Maidan people do not wear masks – then whoever is wearing a mask has a reason to mask their face because they act illegally against the Maidan, against Ukraine. Same goes for a knife. One says, 'What if somebody attacks you and you don't have a knife…'. I am sorry but if you don't have a knife, it is easy to identify somebody who has a knife, i.e. a criminal. But if everybody walks around the Maidan with a knife…, then… sorry. And it's very dangerous if 16-year-old kids walk around with arms. He is still playing and he wants to shoot, to show how big of a hero he is, to raise his status in his own eyes. It is very dangerous.

- TV showed that The Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) in Khmelnytskyi oblast stood out for The Territory Communities. People were yelling to them, ‘take off your masks’, they were replying, ‘this is for protection’. Is it The Pravyi Sektor, who got to push for The Territory Communities, did they do it before? What do you think? 

I have a big question, what is The Pravyi Sektor? If I put a badge, a shevron and a mask – and I say that I am The Pravyi Sektor…

- But the Party of Pravyi Sektor?

The party is the party, but what about their identity? They came over and said they were The Pravyi Sektor. These formations are not necessarily The Pravyi Sektor but different kinds of people can be using their identity. Unfortunately, we are underestimating it now but everybody who is now at the Maidan is getting pulled back to his or her locations. While we are here in the Maidan, fighting and defending everybody’s freedom – all kinds of achievers are getting through into various organizations, pretending to be the Pravyi Sektor or the Samooborona and trying to rule. Some of them come over here when there is no danger to show up, or to sign up to a sotnya. They spend a day or two – and then come back to their location and tell they are Samooborona already, and they are in a sotnya, and are trying to get some benefits for themselves. So claiming they are the Pravyi Sektor… I don’t know this case and I don’t know who they were.

- When did the Pravyi Sektor appear in the Maidan?

In early December I met a few guys, one of them was from the Bilyi Molot (White Hammer), he said it turned into the Pravyi Sektor. They shone off on Hrushevskyi street because they took responsibility for all those actions.  From what I know, their role was not much bigger than anybody else’s. The Ultras (football fans) are not Pravyi Sektor, so I was explained. Maybe I am wrong but guys explained me that the Ultras were the most active ones on Hrushevskyi street. They fought till the end, they hate the Berkut because they always have conflicts with them. That's why all the Ultras, all of these football fans, even the ones of 'Shakhtar' and 'Metalist', stood out in solidarity with the Kyiv Ultras. That is a unique case that they announced truce for the time of struggle for Ukraine’s undependence. Although before they always would identify themselves as apolitical.
As far as the Pravyi Sektor goes, there are many questions. Everybody knows the UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian People’s Assembly – Ukrainian National Solidarity Organization). Also, there is the Bilyi Molot, an ultraright organization. They united into one political force. I am worried that there are criminals there who insinuate that they are Pravyi Sektor. I don't know if they really are but they are undermining this organization. If this organization really puts stake on them then I am very alarmed.

- Where there people from the Pravyi Sector in your sotnya?

There are a few people who moved from our sotnya to the Pravyi Sektor. We are still in touch. We take part in some actions together, with Cossacks and the Sektor. We used to be allies, we fought together… What matters is the way they will act further on… I can’t say anything bad about them. There is a problem with organizations like The Narnia (teenage ultraright organization)…

- There were different street happenings outside the Maidan. What was your reaction on some unannounced bank raids, as well as going outside the Maidan's territory with no announcement and on certain attacks that none of the parties involved want to announce? How were decisions being made about the Hrushevskyi Street? Was there an initiator? How a decisions made about happenings? How do people join these movements? What do objectors do?

There are many double agents and inexperienced people who don't understand these movements well. They want to take ultrarevolutionary actions that would cause upredictable effects, or rather effects we don't want, so we end up being in a trouble. Maybe they are, again, from the Narnia – I don’t know where this organization has come from. For instance, a raid is happening as though it was for revolutionary needs but it turns out to be just an attempt to mask the criminal actions that we fought against. In those same spaces papers, servers are being destroyed in order to mask the footprints. And this is being done with the hands of the revolutionaries who wholeheartedly believe that’s the way but don’t understand the effect. For instance, the Verhovna Rada is doing what should not have been done – it is annulling the Language Law, which causes all the effects. Secondly, here in the Maidan, it’s a gathering of warriors, who are ready to go into the battle and die for the idea but note that these people are also hyperactive, and some of them already have had problems and are not necessarily ideal revolutionaries. But we don’t investigate, and if he is with us – he’s with us, no questions asked. I don’t mean the ones who spent months here. For example, the 19th sotnya guarded the Prosecutor Pshonka’s estate. They came and did not even want to step on those rugs; they did not want to dirty them… Then two weeks later when they came, they saw what had happened… Our guys guarded Yanukovych’s estate for the first two days. Tourists come who have not done a thing but they end up bragging and grabbing those guys and destroying everything saying, ‘this is ours. He stole it from us’. This looting is being done not by the ones who’ve been here from day one, but by the tourists and the ones who came over later. There are kids like the ones who have found a spot in KMDA (Kyiv Mayor’s Office), they walked around drunk and stole everything they could.

- Do they belong to sotnyas?

They drew sotnyas for themselves, there are clones of our sotnya, or rather there used to be. There are many of these winners now. They will tell you that they strangled the Berkut with their bare hands, although theye were not even close. Here legal actions are needed. Let me tell you about a luminary who brought tourists here and yelled, 'Let me in because I was here'. He showed them that this water canon was burned by him personally. But these are 'the overhead costs’. These are the negative things that revolution brings along.

- How were decisions being made – regarding Hrushevskyi street, or regarding protests?

That's the question that was asked when Ihor Lutsenko and Bulatov were taken captive and when people did not hear clear decisions from the politicians. It was just a rebellion, not even a provocation because it was not even planned. Imagine these guys went there, begged the Berkut to let them through for half an hour, then went provocations and shots from Berkut, then went stones. If it were a provocation, the stones would have been prepared, right? But provocation is putting up a bail of the Berkut and blocking the road.
 Then at some point tires showed up, somebody got an idea to use tires. If it were a provocation, they would have been prepared, right? Then in an hour or two first Molotov cocktails flew out, I had people run over here asking for fuel. And all the canisters that I had here for generators were gone. Then there were no bottles; they went to look for bottles. None of this was prepared, it was not a provocation – it was a rebellion.

- What do objectors do?

Objectors leave voluntarily or the ones who do not want to take part in the opposition – they just sit in the tents… He does not agree with going to Hrushevskyi street to fight against the Berkut –so he is doing something here in the Maidan. Or the bums – they just continue living. They have eaten – and off they go to sleep.

- There was a moment when first day on the Hrushevskyi street one of the representatives of the Svoboda party urged to go back to the Maidan because tomorrow help would come. When everything was striking – they urged to go back.

Those were the politicians' announcements from the tribune. From the standpoint of the country’s image, they distanced themselves from the events that the world took as controversial. The armed opposition was not taken very properly, by the foreign media or by politicians. So the distancing gave an opportunity to the Parliament Opposition to not take responsibility. But also to not announce mobilization and to leave the Maidan exposed (because everybody went to Hrushevskyi street), and the Maidan could be taken without a hand’s turn. I think this position is not very decent, to put it mildly. I personally called places and asked, ‘Is the mobilization announced?’ – ‘No, no.’ – ‘What are you waiting for?’ – ‘For what the party will say.’ The mobilization easily could have been announced. They could have said, ‘we are guarding the Maidan. We have nothing to do with the violent Hrushevskyi street events. Period.’

- What did you think and feel when Yanukovych ran away and the government representatives were absent?

I don't remember all of it because I had other problems at the time. On February 18th we technically had our sotnya broken in the Mariinskyi Park. Some people came over to the Maidan to pick  up Molotov cocktails and bring them back to the sotnya, because we were cut in half on Shovkovychna street. We then were unable to get through to our people. They were slammed there, some people were injured, nine people were blocked on a roof on the 18th. They were looked for there but they sat out. We got to take them out only next day. Some of them dissipated and at night they got out of the envelopment. At night our tent town burned down, this bus burned down, many papers burned down, including the papers on this sotnya. There were no contacts left, the captain was very heavily beaten up and his family drove him away and hid him.
Then people who were getting out of the envelopment could not find us and we could not find them. We considered many of them dead. Four of them turned out to have been captive till the 21st. I had problems, on the 21st was this execution, three of our guys got killed. There was no euphoria, nothing, there was only a relief that we won, but at what cost?.. That’s the tune we had. It was mourning.

- What was the Opposition busy with at the time, squabbling over the jobs?

The opposition was busy with its work. Don't blame them.  Once somebody is in the government, we list them as public enemies. They are the same humans. I personally know dozens of deputies. They are different. They are just like us. Some simple people sell themselves for 200 hryvnyas but these ones sell themselves for 2 millions. What's the difference between them? If you sell yourself for 200 hryvnyas then for 2 millions you would sell yourself even more... But then e has the right to critisize the deputee he sold his vote to.  There are normal people among them – such as Lesya Orobets who was taking people out and saving our captain…

- Is it just the matter of the system, of its hierarchy?

Yes. «The seat defines the mind». They went to squabble over jobs – but what do we want? The Party of Regions to keep ruling us? Tell me who we can appoint instead of Turchynov? Somebody good who did not steal. So who is that?

- We spoke about the Territory Communities that would not have hierarchy.

We want to build toilet in one second. Please, build one. We want to rebuild the country in one week. Let's pitch up a tent in half minute. It needs an hour, right? We want to rebuild the country by changing the president and the Verkhovna Rada but we are forgetting that those seats are taken by the officials who sabotage. We blame it on the army and Turchynov. I apologize but the Joint Staff and officers of military units are sabotaging the orders. If they threw the troops on Perekop with no helmets while helmets are sold to the right and left. Who is to blame? Turchynov? Yatsenyuk? Or Parubiy? When the information is being blocked. There are helmets but they are not distributed to the soldiers – what is it? It is a sabotage. We are saying, ‘this guy should be replaced, this one, too, everybody…’ But what’s the deal with the oligarchs? They robbed this army and now we are giving away our last pennies. Did they support the army? Why are we not talking about the oligarchs and not demanding from them? Again, these are manipulations that make us run after shadows.

- Whose manipulations?

Of the ones who want to run us into a stable. How? They want to destabilize it, bend the top managers.

- But you are saying to not accuse the opposition…

Accusation is important but a smart one. They should be pressured. I am admitting that there is no difference, no matter if it is the Block of Julia Tymoshenko or the Party of Regions. Both Prosecutor’s Office and militia are trying to keep the status quo.  They kicked out Yanukovych but now they are splitting spheres of influence and are interested in keeping their status quo in Ukraine. Our task is to not let it happen.

- Is change of the system possible? Is incorporating certain methods after the Maidan possible? Is there a possibility to enrich this Maidan with knowledge and practices that would let the new relationships develop in future?

We are talking about the paramilitary Maidan, right? I mean the Maidan I am boiling in. But along with that, the Maidan is not limited to the tents. The Maidan is now all over Ukraine. Some people are wearing masks and some are not, there are overruns, postrevolutinary syndrome, or the revolutionary syndrome. And along with that there are people who are working intellectually. Rimma Bilotserkivska leads workshops, lectures. Lanovyi, Bohomolets, Ruslana, Hromadskyi Sektor, the youth. I was talking about the Maidan I live in but at the same time there is the whole group of people who are working on all of other issues. Take, for instance, that Lustration Committee that Ihor Sobolev is working on, or that Chornovol that works on the anti-corruption committee, those are the ones that seem to be legalized. There is also a bunch of activists, not to mention groups of people who work on abuse detecting and who take testimonies from eyewitnesses about what happened on the 18th and 20th, they are seeking killed people. The Maidan is not limited to just what I was telling. But there’s a fact that sotnyas at the Maidan are dominating. Yesterday Ruslana came out – she already had concluded something. Bohomolets is doing her job – that’s an example. There are also dozens of people; activists on locations are doing particular jobs on rebuilding the state.

- Is the 3rd Maidan possible?

Even the 10th or 20th are possible. The Maidan is in the heart of every person. It will last as long as needed. Until we create the state that we want.

- You spoke about a commune you work on. Is this lifestyle possible to advise to people?

What do you mean by commune? If you mean the Maidan then that's a commune.

- I mean the time when you united, long before the Maidan.

That can't be called a commune. There was a period, for instance, when we drove to a lake side and lived like at the  Maidan with no superior or a coordinator – people just came and pitched a tent town and for a week, or two, or  a month or just as long as was needed, lived as families. And we helped one another. The Maidan, that's what a commune is now.

- But is there a certain lifestyle? Like, there is this system and that system? How possible is it to incorporate this lifestyle into the everyday life? Because on one hand it was an extreme situation, on the other hand – you lived like that.

We can't always live as a commune in tents with families all the time. Everybody has their apartment, their business. But we should transfer this spirit of the Maidan and these principles it is founded on, they are collective self-defence, collaboration and cooperation. When we all immediately help one another if we can. Why not transfer it on our society?

- How must this system look?

It looks the way you make it. There is no a recipe 'You should do this at 8 o'clock and you should do this'. It depends on a need and ability of each person. We are developing this network further on. It worked rather effectively but it was limited by the amount of people. Now it is expanding. For example, when somebody is in a different town and needs help – you approach people who are in the network and they help. Unknown before people are also ready to work. We practiced it, and it worked very effectively.

- Where is water, electricity here from? Who is responsible? How does it work in the Maidan?

That is self-organizing. One of the guys found where we could plug in. We came over, negotiated – and plugged in. Conditions are negotiable. Some help us for free, some charge. When we needed to get the water, I went to the market, they gave me pipes for free, for the Maidan. Somebody else just gave a discount. Or sometimes you would just pay out of your pocket. Mostly they would give a discount or give for free. So that's how it works – everybody does what they can.

- Where is the water coming from?

From somewhere.)

- Is it that bus?

Yes, it used to be an office on the wheels. It was burned on the 19th, at about 4.30am.

- Is this the bus-office that burned down?


- It was a red Icarus.

It had a toilet, wardrobe, shower, kitchenette, everything legalized. There were 24 seats and 9 sleeping berths. We planned for 21 sleeping berths...

What is the Maidan? It's an alive body. But we want this body to only have one artery and supply all our body with blood, but only through the one artery. There are arteries, veins, capillaris, there is a certain structure of the live body, so each of us gets some life supply, or information. We can get it from anywhere we want and in any way we want. It is very encouraging that all the processes are happening simultaneously and independently from one another. So the most effective project will be the one that survives. And there are dozens of organizations that now exist formally and informally, IT-sotnyas, civil movements, associations.
Everybody is moving independently, some of them are coordinated and the other ones are not. Sooner or later it will grow into something constructive, and this constructive will guide the others. Like the Automaidan or Bohomolets who were never known before but now ring everywhere. Before that Ruslana rang, then Ihor Lutsenko, or Bulatov, sometimes Yarosh. There is a rotation going on now, it's a change and accummulation of a certain human resourse.

Ideas get produced, and how will these ideas be perceived?
Clearly, we'd like to have an effective model in order to generate all legislative movements at the Maidan, so that they demand and pass them in this specific wording. Maybe even that we'll get to.

- Did Makhnovism, Arab Spring or other total global events, moments of history give certain political guidance? How do you take world practices and how do they work? What are your actions in regards to the world efforts of the past and present? What are the points of reference for you and for people from the Maidan? What other dreams and discourses you heard on Maidan?

You named some of those interesting initiatives like Arab spring, for instance. Makhnovism is close to us, it's a Ukrainian phenomenon. There are Che Gevara, there is Kim Chen Ir etc. I would say, I did not try to prepare myself for the Maidan, just like most people. Learning other people's experience in order to make a revolution – none of the people who I know did it. As a historian by education I more or less learned Makhno’s practice outside the curriculum because it was kept secret. Holodnyi Yar and other liberating movements… We have much more rich history and much more powerful historical basis that has shone now and that we should study, instead of borrowing Arab Springs and others. Our official history was castrated. It was artificially limited by the 10th century because that’s when Christianity came. And showing that it started with Christianity connects us to Russia etc. But whatever has happened before, we don’t know. We have a thousand-year-long history of Cossacks who were a caste of warriors. We had a big proto-cyvilisation that affected the entire world. We only know Cossacks by Hohol. But in fact he made up these characters. Cossacks had no single Christian church, especially of Moscow Patriarchate. There were Cossacks kharakternyks, pagans who had knowledge from thousands of years. They had not as much paranatural abilities as knowledge from wizards and witches.
The word  'vid'ma' (witch) comes from a word 'vyedat' (to know) but we are taught this character is negative. For some reason we limit ourselves to the history of Kyivan Rus' while in fact Kyivan Rus' used to be a state formation that was dependent on a different state formation. For instance, there is a legend about Zmiy Horynych and Kozhumyaka. Historians know how to read legends. They are personified pieces of history. So Kozhumyaka overcame a knyaz’  (prince) whose name was Zmiy Horynych  and who was a representative of an army of a state-tribal formation that was controling Kyiv (Polyans). Polyans paid taxes to Zmiy, Horynych is from the word Horyn'. Horyn' is Volyn', i.e. Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil, Rivne districts. Perhaps over there there was a state formation that we simply do not want to know about. For instance, we would easily understand what Slovenians talk about. We have common tribal roots because they came from Carpathians  though in the seventh century they moved to Balcans. And it is as easy to talk with them as with Russians. But we have left out all of these layers. So we have a lot of experience, many examples, and although Cossacks are translated into kitch – we contain the spirit of Cossacks. These genes, they do exist. And our guys who were struggling unarmed and did not go back until the tires were burned and barricades were built – did not step back. Perhaps, not every nation can do this.

- It’s stubbornness.

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