You are the Country Yourself

Four citizens tell how their lives changed after the Ukrainian revolution.

Ruslan Kladkov, 34 years old, was born and lived in Lysychansk; studied at Luhansk State University of Internal Affairs where get the specialisation «law», qualification «lawyer».

When the Revolution was going on, I was conducting a business, and having completed the competence at the Ministry of Justice I became the main specialist at the real estate department. While Maidan, I took a few times compensatory leaves, holiday or just went there at the weekends. After the Crimea was annexed we signed to be volunteers in Stahanov.

Till that moment we had the example of Sloviansk and we started planning how to protect our city. There I was the head of “resistance movement” in Lysychansk. There were different people among us – hunters, policemen or ordinary people with fire-arm.

We participated in various meetings including “for United Ukraine”. There were only 12-15 people of us but there were almost 300 of them.

Since 2008 I have been a national movement activist. I was filled with indignation at the fact that students were beaten up at Maidan because I was a student too. They were students, the youth that is our future. That evening I left for Kyiv. Actually, it is then when transformed into the Revolution …

My mother lives in Moscow but she hasn’t changed the passport. She is still Ukrainian and doesn’t want to get any other citizenship. Our family, despite they are living in Moscow, are Ukrainians in their souls. When I enlisted as a volunteer, my mother in cooperation with my aunt collected some money and bought me a good type of bullet-proof vest that I still keep with myself. Hope that I will no need it anymore.

I see my future here because I have a dwelling, some flats. I have a real estate in a form of a tourist centre. I help people as much as I can.

I provide free legal consultation. Instead of bad habits, bad companies and laziness we try to direct the youth energy in a right way by organizing different social actions, trainings, lectures and events.

I have a flag that I sewed myself before going to Maidan. For me it was kind of a charm. I always took it when I was traveling somewhere. When I was an active participant in hostilities, I put it between plats of my body armour. It is still in my home. Perhaps because my son constantly saw it, his first word was “flag.”

Mariia Domanska, 27. Co-founder of the independent publication «Hromadske. Volyn». Regional coordinator of the public movement «Chesno».

I foresaw during the election in 2010 that Maidan would take place. International election observers confirmed that the Ukrainians elected Yanukovych fairly. At that moment, I realized that everything would be ended with blood. There were a lot of injustice while the Yanukovych ages. Criminal decisions at the stage of institutions of local governing and the Verkhovna Rada.

I don’t want to live in a rocket of the 90th and be afraid of going out! I don’t want to be afraid that if I start my business, it will be taken from me. Those who were on Maidan are honest with themselves. They demanded to live in accordance with some principles, with which they are living.

When the students were beaten up, the vector changed. We wanted not only to get European integration but also for the president to resign.

All those actions were visible indicator that nobody of us was protected completely. That anybody of us could be beaten up, be taken to investigation isolation ward, be killed, be brought out in the forest and nobody would know about him/her.

Our revolution is continuing. It has just transformed into another form. It is easy to make the revolution, even artificially. Next stage would be very complicated, long, boring and tedious. A part of those who were on Maidan has gone on the warpath, a part has become politicians, some of them have used it not from good faith enough, and the minority without catching the honours, has gone for a work. The last are the least but we rely on them the most.

The country is going in the direction in which we have turned our ship. It was the biggest achievement of Maidan. I can’t say that it was all a betrayal, but it is not a complete victory either.

What about our future? It is closer to Europe but it is not completely European. It will be a kind of hybrid. Slavic-European hybrid. It will be interesting. When I travelled to the ATO zone as a correspondent, one of the soldiers presented me his cross that is very valuable for me and always reminds me that we have the military action.

I consider myself not only as a consumer of this country but as an active citizen of the society who can’t stay apart. Unfortunately, when the revolution started, I hadn’t had a chance to go to Kyiv immediately. First of all, I wanted to declare my position that only we create our history.

Once the history of Ukraine got me interested, I made some conclusions for myself and clearly formed my own position. When I was a student I realized that Ukraine had to be a sovereign and independent country. That is my point which I proclaim and I am not afraid to speak out.

During the election of 2010 I realized that a new government wouldn’t do anything concrete so I couldn’t stay away and could only express my own « fuuu » against Yanukovych.

After Maidan, I couldn’t take part in a war because I had been injured. While the revolution I was pleased to realize that the Ukrainians could cooperate and work together despite of all the obstacles. Almost the whole Ukraine came and joined hands with each other around the common idea, and it gave me a kind of stimulus, hope etc.

Sometimes I allowed myself to joke that Yanukovych was the only one who united Ukraine (against himself).

During the Revolution, Ukrainians pleasingly surprised me. They showed that they could really make a union. I got into politics because people found out my political convictions and asked me to stand for them.

I was hesitating for a long time and finally made up mind.

Despite the fact I am a village head actually I avoid close relationship with any political parties because I don’t want to take any sides. I was elected by the community so I am serving in a favour of the community.

Olexandr Huch, 32 years old, head of the village of Derno, Kivertsi district, Volyn region since October 2015. Before that he was engaged in building construction field, worked as a tutor in the children’s camp.

Olesia Zhukovska, 25 years old, a medic.

The first time I went to Maidan alone, I didn’t tell anything to anybody. When my parents found out, they argued a lot and didn’t allow me to go again, so I had to escape to Kyiv. I wished with all my heart to see some changes in our country, to see that our government started transforming and acting. I was inspired by people’s ability to self-organization; I had already seen some changes.

On Maidan I felt the union of people, the union of Ukraine in general. I felt that we were leaving our stereotypes towards the East and the West. The whole Ukraine was together, they were not living separately. I joined the mobile team of medics that had already gained the equipment and I had just mining helmet that wasn`t meant for military actions…When I heard the shot I didn’t understand what had happened. I saw that I was bleeding but I didn’t feel a pain, it was maybe because of shock. I understood that I was dying and nobody could help me. Luckily a boy was near me who led me to the nearest ambulance, at that day the fortune was with me.

After everything I had witnessed, I was entered to the Bogomolets National Medical University and continued studying to be a doctor. After graduation, I plan to stay in Kyiv and work in the field of medicine. The most important thing maybe is that the whole world knows about Ukraine as an independent country but not as a territory that is close to Russia. Most Ukrainians have already defined their own position some of them have even felt the awakening of patriotism. We see that everything has its own time and believe in the best future for our country. Our main goal now is to stop the war in the eastern part of Ukraine. Only from this moment we will be able to build future. We must live not only for ourselves but also for those who stayed on Maidan forever .

All my stuff from Maidan I gave to Kremenets Local History Museum because it doesn’t make sense for me to keep them at home as an idol of the generation, it is better to transmit it to a safer place. Now there is a helmet, which I wore while my injury, a medical T-shirt, my knee guards and the European Union flag with which I came to Maidan with. The most sufficient for me is, maybe, stickers and the flag. The flag is special because it was signed by lots of like-minded people not only from Ukraine but from all over the world.

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