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From Maidan to Donbass: '10 Days in F...
Sumy, Ukraine
By lordcob
26 Jan 2015

Text by : Johannes Sporrer

Italian photographer Jacob Balzani Lööv followed a self-defense unit in Kiev's Maidan for ten days up to the bloody events of 20 February 2014. He recently visited one of the protagonist of the revolutionary current that swept Ukraine at that time.

"I was in Kiev to meet some friends," says Balzani Lööv, who at the end of November 2013, found himself suddenly in the middle of Independence Square in Kiev. "I was surprised by how peaceful, determined and full of hope the protest was throughout the month of December, but that changed with time. People started to wear masks and to protect Maidan with clubs and shields, upgrading their defense to the violence of the police."

On the 10th of February 2014 during a protest to demand the release of some arrested activists, Balzani Lööv saw a masked, red-haired young woman and organized to meet her. Olesja Goriaynova, a then 19-years-old, was a journalism student from Sumy.

"I wanted to know if the attitude I loved in December in Maidan was still there," he recalls, "and Olesja told me that it was still there, but under wraps in the compounds where the defense units were living." After few days the photographer was granted access to the group, the 14 Sotnia.

These so-called self-defense units of the Maidan were founded to protect unarmed protesters from the increasing violence of the police.

"The central demand of the group was an independent Ukraine, without Yanukovych," says Balzani Lööv, "and a Ukraine without corruption, leaning towards Europe. Often its members were upset by the fact that newspapers were discussing only the geopolitical interests of the US and Russia, as if the Ukrainians had no say." He felt that the atmosphere in these days was tense. "It seemed quite possible that the police could have broke into the headquarters of the 14th Sotnias anytime and commit a massacre," he said.

To protect the group, Balzani Lööv promised that he would publish pictures showing unmasked members of the defense units only if the revolution would succeed or if there were to no longer be any threat.

Now, a year later, the immediate threat is over for the activists, but whether or not their revolution was actually successful, however, is far less clear. Balzani Lööv has met again with the activist Olesja Goryainova to ask her about the consequences of the protests. Olesja has moved back to her hometown, Sumy, some 300 kilometers east of Kiev. She is studying again, but she cannot fully return to her old life.

"Olesja now collects money and materials for the fighters in the anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine," says Balzani Lööv. She is also a member of the Young Nationalist Congress, an organization that aims to strengthen the "patriotic spirit" of the youth. Olesja doesn't regret the Maidan.

"We just couldn't go on living that way," she says, though with a hint of disappointment in her voice.

Yanukovych is gone, but the reforms desired by the Maidan protestors did not materialize. As before, there is a lot of corruption in the country, and the war in the East has overshadowed the original goals of the young revolutionaries. The profound changes they sought for, postponed.

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Protest Demonstration - Hebron
Hebron, Palestine
By Ibrahim Hamouz
16 Aug 2014

Hebron, Palestinian Territories

August 15, 2014

Protestors demonstrating against the conflict in Gaza clash with Israeli soldiers in the Bab el Zawya district of Hebron.

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Palestinians Protest in Bil'in
Bil'in, Palestine
By Florin Ghioca
24 Jan 2014

A Palestinian protester throws stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations on Friday.

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In support of Morsi.
Egypt
By Lindsey Parietti
04 Nov 2013

Clashes between demonstrators supportive of Morsi and the Egyptian armed forces

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Raw Footage: Muslim Brothers March Fr...
Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt
By Ali Khaled
06 Jul 2013

5 th June 2013
Muslim Brothers marched from Giza to Maspero, but the Anti-Morsi presence stopped them march on the 6th October bridge. The army arrived after Pro-Morsi demonstrators tried to go to Maspero and clashes broke out in Tahrir SQ.

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Egyptians Interaction with the Army A...
Tahrir Square, Cairo , Egypt
By Ali Khaled
01 Jul 2013

Egyptians interaction with the army again after the dismissal of President Morssi .

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White-
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Jun 2013

Riots in Istanbul started for the sake of protecting Gezi Park, located beside Taksim Square, after the government announced a mall project which would be erected in place of the park. Initially, a few hundred people, mainly environmental activists, conducted peaceful protests and camped in the park. After the first two days of protesting, police officers violently attacked the protesters with tear gas and burned their sleeping tents.

The public furiously responded to these attacks, as they joined together void of any political movement, against the government. The protests contained a powerful, organic element, that combined the diverse Turkish community together for the first time in the country's history, fighting for one cause: freedom. Citizens want be to involved; they want to be the decision makers in the city. More than three weeks have passed since the riots began and there is still ongoing violence every day. Casualties already reached four dead, thousands injured, and thousands arrested. Also, many journalists have been taken into custody.

Present-day Gezi Park has a controversial history. The site was formerly an Armenian graveyard between 1551-1939 and was also the place of Topcu Kislasi, military barracks built under the reign of Sultan Selim III. The area also included the very first Genocide memorial statue in the world, built in 1919, which witness annual commemorations until 1924.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (8 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A man was wounded by police attacks. He escaped in search of medical assistance.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (7 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

The grenade was shot back to the police by the protesters.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (3 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A rioter still standing after police threw a tear gas bomb.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Journalists took photos as rioters threw grenades back at the police officers. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A civilian rioted amid the tear gas without placing on his gas mask. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Men attempted to stop a surge of water that was blasted from a tank. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (40 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Some riot shields were named ''Tayyip'" after the president of the Turkish Republic.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Fire and tear gas accumulated beside a barricade. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (38 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Grenades were not shot at a 45 degree angle with the ground, they were being shot parallel to the ground, injuring more than 4,000 civilians in 20 days.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (34 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A human chain was formed, hand to hand, to stop the police forces.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (33 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A journalist captures the moment with his camera.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (30 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Police squad teams are trying to capturing the Gezi park main entrance.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (29 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A journalist who was affected by gas had a anti-gas mask

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Gezi Gets Gassed
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Jun 2013

Riots in Istanbul started for the sake of protecting Gezi Park, located beside Taksim Square, after the government announced a mall project which would be erected in place of the park. Initially, a few hundred people, mainly environmental activists, conducted peaceful protests and camped in the park. After the first two days of protesting, police officers violently attacked the protesters with tear gas and burned their sleeping tents.

The public furiously responded to these attacks, as they joined together void of any political movement, against the government. The protests contained a powerful, organic element, that combined the diverse Turkish community together for the first time in the country's history, fighting for one cause: freedom. Citizens want be to involved; they want to be the decision makers in the city. More than three weeks have passed since the riots began and there is still ongoing violence everyday. Casualties already reached four dead, thousands injured, and thousands arrested. Also, many journalists have been taken into custody.

Present-day Gezi Park has a controversial history. The site was formerly an Armenian graveyard between 1551-1939 and was also the place of Topcu Kislasi, military barracks built under the reign of Sultan Selim III. The area also included the very first Genocide memorial statue in the world, built in 1919, which witness annual commemorations until 1924.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

''Taksim Dayanisma,'' an operation committee of riots, tried to convince the police to stop using excessive force on civilians. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Gas clouds disperse across Taksim Square during clashes between protesters and police officials. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (43 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Traces of a gas bomb with the contrasting slogans and flags.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (42 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Toxic water thrown at the protesters with a Water Cannon Tank.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (1...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Civilians formed a human chain against violent attacks committed by the police. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (37 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Civil passive resist via the formation of a human chain

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Gezi Gets Gassed (36 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Civil resistance with the formation of a human chain against police violence

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Gezi Gets Gassed (35 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Civil protest with the formation of a human chain against police violence

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Gezi Gets Gassed (31 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Protestors are placing the grenades in these tanks to stop the reaction mechanism.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (2 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Rioters are building a barricade at istiklal Avenue, to stop the water cannon tanks.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White- (3...
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Police officials closed in on the barricades and used them against the rioters. Demonstrations took place beside Taksim Square as citizens protested against the government after a mall project that would take the place of Gezi Park was established. The protests were initially peaceful but ongoing violence has been taking place for over three weeks and continues to escalate in Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (9 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Rioters are still standing in the tear gas clouds and shouting the demands towards the police in the water cannon tank.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (4 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

There were police with a automatic rubber guns at every corner of substreets of Istiklal Avenue ...

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Gezi Gets Gassed (27 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

Taksim square construction area was also closed down due to the riots. The corner art exhibition was about the start before the clashes happened.

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Gezi Gets Gassed (26 of 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
By umutvedat
19 Jun 2013

A protester stands with a rainbow flag in the middle of the square, disregarding the painful gas attack.