Veterans Protecting Protesters in Maiden Square

Collection with 38 media items created by lordcob

14 Dec 2013 05:00

"Here Kabul 2, copy."

In the frigid night, a man in uniform speaks into the radio beside a military tent. But this is not Afghanistan. It is the centre of Kiev where, since November 21, protesters have been occupying Maidan Square. Almost a thousand of these demonstrators are Ukrainian miltary veterans who, as part of the Soviet Army, took part in different conflicts the USSR was engaged in around the globe before its dissolution, particularly in Afghanistan. This is also known as Soviet Union’s "Vietnam," where the USSR fought one of its bloodiest conflicts to date, between 1979 and 1789. This massive unrest in Ukraine that started initially as a demand to President Viktor Yanukovych to reconsider his decision of no longer committing to integration with the European Union has now turned into more of a demand for his resignation.

Andrei, who once served in Kabul for 19 months, still does not understand the reasons behind Yanukovych's decision to attack and injure unarmed students on November 30. “If they would not have attacked, the protest would have dissolved. Before I came to watch, then I came to remain to defend my own people against a President which behaves as a dictactor. We want a democratic country where people have real rights, like Europe."

Andrei, along with tens of thousands of others began living in Maidan Square in tents, occupying buildings and buses, warming themselves with firewood and listening to the never-ending music and speeches which run day and night on the main stage of Maidan Square. According to the commander on the ground of the Afghanistan’s Veterans, Oleg, 49, this all happened without any prior organization or connection with politics. “Veteran individuals just met on the square, they recognised each other, they organized themselves and they chose me as their coordinator. We are currently around 1,000 and we all have the same vision, in which a government should not use force against its own people. And so we put ourselves, experienced soldiers, who know the price of life, blood and death, in the middle.”

After a surprise attack on the night of December 11 and into the early morning of the 12 after Yanukovych's promise to European Union representative Catherine Ashton that he would not use force to disperse the protesters, the occupiers have become more organized, building strong barricades with snow and organizing shifts to defend the people. The system works in a sort of anarchy with the different defence groups, of which Afghanistan’s Veterans are the largest, having a dialogue on the ground as situations happen.

Every night, when the fear of attacks is highest, veterans patrol the area within and around Maidan Square. Since the major risk at the moment is that the government will use agent provocateurs to promote disorder or to give a wrong idea of what is happening in Maidan Square, veterans also control suspect people, and whenever found, bring them to the police.

Ukraine Ukraine Prot... Kyiv Kiev European Union Veterans Military Vet... Ussr Russia Soviet Union Soviet War I... Euromaiden Maiden Square Request

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

An Afghanistan veteran preparing for a night shift.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

One of the barricades built around Maidan Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

An Afghanistan veteran rests after a night watch.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A veteran exits the headquarter of the Afghanistan's veterans headquarters.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A poster in a tent of Afghanistan's veterans says: "Mr. Yanukovych, go away!" memorial for all the people who have been injuried by Berkuts, a special unit of riot police known for its use of violence.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Oleg, 42, was with the radio team of the Soviet Airborne Troops in Tskhinvali, now south Ossetia, in the Caucasus, between 1990 and 92. Now he stands in front of a memorial for all the people who have been injuried by Berkuts, a special unit of riot police known for its use of violence. For him, to try to kick peaceful people out of Maidan Square was the last drop after years of suffering under the bad ruling of the country. "It's not a government we should call it Mafia," he says. He continues, " I thought we would have never come back to Maidan after the Orange Revolution but no, in 2013, I had to come back."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A group of Afghanistan veterans bring a suspected provocateur to the police station. They believe that Yanukovych supporters pushed paid him to be drunk and provocative in Maidan, hoping for a violent reaction. They believe that police will let him free again in few hours.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Kiev, Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Afghan Veterans during a break in the night patrols in Maidan square. Nights are long and freezing but it is during night that the police normally attacks.

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Veterans Protect Protesters in Maidan...
Kyiv, Ukraine
By lordcob
16 Dec 2013

One of the barricades built around Maidan Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

A poster in a tent of Afghanistan's Veterans says: "Mr. Yanukovych, go away!"

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A section of the Afghanistan's Veterans sing the Ukrainian National anthem, which is played sporadically on the main stage of Maidan Square.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

Brothers Ruslan and Vladislav Goncharov (41 and 44 years old respectively) sing the national anthem. They have been here for 12 days. They arrived as soon as they saw a video of innocent students beaten by Berkuts, Golden Eagles, a section of riot police well-known for their use of violence. "We couldn't stand it," they say, "we knew we had to protect our younger people, we came here and we found other veterans like us. We formed a group and we are now always in the frontline if police try to invade the square as they did few days ago. I had a Berkut in front of me and I told him, that the military motto is 'Serve your country' not to serve your president."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Veterans control the access to Maidan Square. They have to keep their eyes open for provocators, which protestors believe might be sent in to give a wrong image of the Euromaidan.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A veteran places a flag saying "for Ukraine" on a newly built barricade in Madian Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A independent group from the region of Khmelnytskyi, 200km from Kiev, helps the veterans and other people preparing food at all hours of the day and night.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

Natalia helps with food in the Veteran's headquarters. The tens of thousands of people who live in Maidan and several occupied buildings perform all sort of volounteer jobs to keep Maidan alive.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Oleg, 49, commander on the ground of the Afghanistan's Veterans. He was part of the Soviet Airborne Troops in Logar province, Afghanistan, between 1983 and 1985. Logar was one of the worst areas during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Oleg was chosen by other veteran as chief when he decided to join Maidan after the violence of police against the protesters on November 30. He doesn't know what will happen next. "Well," he adds, "we remain here and we will protect the people because we know the price of life, blood and death."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

A man asks Alexander's team to check some of the suspicious people among the protesters.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

Alexander, 50, prepares himself for his team's night shift. He served throughout Syria with a small team of special forces bewteen 1983 and 1984. He arrived in Maidan after the violence of the police on November 30 to protect the people. Since he has children, he wants them to grow up in a democratic country. "I am awaiting changes since our independence in 1991," he says, "Yanukovich when he had finally the possibility of joning Europe, he showed his real face. Now he has to go."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Alexander, 50, prepares himself for his team's night shift. He served throughout Syria with a small team of special forces between 1983 and 1984. He arrived in Maidan after the violence of the police on November 30 to protect the people. Since he has children, he wants them to grow up in a democratic country. "I am awaiting changes since our independence in 1991," he says, "Yanukovich when he had finally the possibility of joning Europe, he showed his real face."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

One of the barricades built around Maidan Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between the 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

An Afghanistan veteran controls the entrance outside one of the barricades. The missions of the veteran is to be alway the first line between the police and the protesters, they claim they are not scared and they know how to deal even with Berkuts, Golden Eagles, a section of riot police well known for its violence.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

Alexander, 50, speaks into the radio during a night shift. He served all around Syria with a small team of special forces between 1983 and 1984. He arrived in Maidan after the violence of the police on the 30th of November to protect the people. Since he has children he wants them to grow in a democratic country. "I am awaiting changes since our independence in 1991," he says, "Yanukovich when he had finally the possibility of joning Europe, he showed his real face."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Alexander, 50, divides his team in smaller groups for the night watch. They will have to keep their eyes open for provocateurs, who might be sent in to disrupt the image of the protests at Maidan Square.

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Veterans Protect Protesters in Maidan...
Kyiv, Ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

One of the barricades built around Maidan Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

One of the barricades built around Maidan Square. Barricades were reinforced and rebuilt after police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Natalia helps with food in the Veterans' headquarters. The tens of thousands of people who live in Maidan, make use of several occupied buildings that are full of volunteers performing various tasks in order to keep Maidan alive.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A group of Afghanistan veterans bring a suspected provocateur to the police station. They believe that Yanukovych supporters got paid to be drunk and disruptive in order to be provocative in Maidan Square, hoping for a violent reaction. They believe that police will let him go after a few hours.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2012

Anatoli, 49, was in Bagram, Afghanistan between 1982 and 1984 with the Russian Airborne Troops. He lives in Vinnytsia, 150 km away from Kiev. He left his job to come to Maidan to protect his people. "I am here for my children," he says, "I am here from the beginning because my heart is here; I am here for Europe. I would really like my country to be like Germany with better democracy, better tribunals, better social system."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

Stanislav, 47, an Afghanistan's Veteran, talks with his son who also lives Maidan Square. His son was beaten by the police on the 30th of November and spent a week in the hospital before rejoining the protests.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A group of Afghanistan's Veteran return to their tent after a night watch.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

The people of Maidan Square confronting the police on the night between 10th and 11th of December. The police forces tried to evacuate the camp in the night between 10th and 11th of December, shortly after the departure of the EU representative Catherine Ashton. Since then, police have left the square.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
15 Dec 2013

A defender of the barricades getting some advice from the Afghanistan Veterans. Next to the veterans, many of the other groups help defend Maidan Square. A central coordination doesn't exist among the protesters: the different groups just try and work together while protesting in the streets.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
14 Dec 2013

A team of Afghanistan veterans controlling one of the entrances to Maidan Square.

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
15 Dec 2013

Andrei served in the Soviet Army for 19 months in Kabul, and doesn't understand why the unarmed students had to be attacked. "If they didn't attack so intensely, the protests would have dissolved" he adds. He says he first came to the protests to watch, but later he decided to stay and join their efforts. Even though he was forced to go to Afghanistan with the army at just 18 years old, he finds it important now he's standing up for his own people in his land: "Yanukovych isn't Ukraine, he is not representing us, he's just friends with a dictator: Putin. We want a democratic country where people have rights, like in other European countries."

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Veterans Protecting Protesters in Mai...
kiev,ukraine
By lordcob
12 Dec 2013

A team of Afghanistan's vetaran sing the Ukrainian National anthem, which is played time to time on the main stage of Maidan Square.