I am writing this text in Kyiv. In the first days of May, alarms sound more and more often, and our anti-aircraft defence regularly shoots down the occupiers’ missiles and drones over the capital city. It is hard to get down to work because the war has stolen my inspiration. Nonetheless, I will tell you simply and honestly my personal story of participating in Euromaidan. I will definitely regain inspiration; it will come back after the fall of the Russian neo-empire and the ultimate victory of Ukraine. For now, I wish to invite you, Dear Readers, on a retrospective journey to the Ukrainian revolutionary past.


On November 21, 2013, I was sitting at home, reading the news with mounting weariness and disgust. Prime Minister Azarov had announced that Ukraine would be giving up the European vector. This information irritated me, and at the same time it left me feeling helpless. We had tried so many times to make our fellow citizens aware of the need to stop the arbitrariness of the Yanukovych regime. Every protest died out and went to the dogs sooner or later. Yanukovych continued to do as he pleased.

This time, the appeals for people to take to the streets were heard in various cities, not just in Kyiv. In Lviv, students of the Ukrainian Catholic University started their night protest duty; I was studying towards my Master’s degree there.

I didn’t go anywhere that evening.

I was twenty-seven years old. As an eighteen-year-old, I witnessed the Orange Revolution and the fight against Kuchma’s volte-face. Then, nine years of conditional “reaction” to the political changes – old friends telling me how enthralled they had been… and how disappointed they were then. And that protest made no sense. That irritated me. They were adults, but they were behaving so childishly. Well, this is what our nation is like; it is what it is, as our first president Leonid Kravchuk would say.

Firmly convinced that the protests would soon die down, I decided to go to the rally that had been scheduled for the following day. I firmly believed that thirty of my friends from the times of the Orange Revolution would come to the demonstration under the seat of the regional government administration (the body representing presidential power in the regions of Ukraine).

The following day, Lviv was hit by a wave of thousands of students protesting.

 “They’ll make a bit of a racket for a while, and then they’ll go to back to their classes,” I said disgruntledly as I was walking home from the demonstration.

 “They can’t afford a marathon. They’ll be gone after a week,” I continued to grumble, while getting ready for night duty at the Maidan in Lviv.

Then we waited all night for the protest to be forcibly dispersed and for the tent that had been set up at noon to be liquidated because Radio Svoboda had reported that “the Lviv Regional Administrative Court had considered the lawsuit of the Lviv Regional State Administration and ordered that the tent in the square in front of the Shevchenko monument be dismantled on the night of November 22–23.” It all ended in a funny way: court enforcers came to the students in the morning, but it turned out that the tent had been set up at a different address than the one given in the court order.

That is how I got involved in our next revolution, with the firm belief that it was the cause of nineteen-year-olds. I was with them because I believed that it would all end badly, so I needed to share a future with my younger colleagues – a future that they were not ready for. I expected persecutions, arrests, and trials of the demonstrators to start within a few days, maybe a few weeks.

For a week I had been on duty at the Lviv Euromaidan in the media centre. The youth organized themselves swiftly. My generation joined them and became involved in the process, but this “rogue ship” was steered by much younger boys and girls.

How did they know how to do it? They knew because they had seen it with their own eyes. They had observed the Orange Revolution (although they did not participate in it due to their young age), the Language Maidan (protests in 2012–2013 against attempts to introduce Russian as an official language at the regional level), and rallies in support of the protests in Vradiivka1 against militia brutality. They organised on social media, met in the square, established an organizing committee, and – with the participation of the latter – planned further actions, agreed on positions, and solved current issues.

Within a short time, regional Maidans scattered throughout Ukraine focused on organizing mass transport for those willing to go to Kyiv Maidan Nezalezhnosti. A mass presence in the capital city was absolutely essential. Due to lack of time and the enormous amount of work involved, regional protest centres had to operate 24 hours a day. Someone offered transport, someone provided drivers, someone arranged fuel, someone else preferred to go as an activist. Local revolution units helped all these people meet and ensured their safety (if the police tried to block the buses, lawyers from the city’s Maidan came to the rescue, released the detainees, and helped the buses pass the blockade).

Information was constantly updated, and fake news was fact-checked – a separate group dealt with this. If there was a post somewhere about the detention of activists, or Titushky,2 or a potential attack by the militia, or “anti-Maidan activists hanged in the Brukhovytskyi forest”, and so on, volunteers were easily found via social networking sites, and they went to the given place in person to verify the information.

Of course, there were differences of opinions; there were discussions and confrontations. Would it not be blasphemous to plant European Union flags on the monuments of Shevchenko and Franko? (Not really, but as this proposal did not come to the students from the organizing committee, for some reason it wasn’t implemented). Which idea shall we put into action, and which shall we give up? Do we allow politicians to speak? Do we call students of Lviv universities to the rallies? Who is going to bring the loudspeakers, who shall lead the column, and who shall write and distribute posters if people don’t have time to make their own? The Lviv Euromaidan arrived at compromise solutions, and at the end of the Revolution of Dignity a blockade of military units was organised, just like in other regions, so that Ukrainian soldiers would not be thrown into the fight against the Euromaidan.

It may not be obvious from this long introduction, but the Lviv Euromaidan really worked smoothly and harmoniously from day one. Soon, on November 27, a week after it had started, I set off for Kyiv.


I came to the capital with Vidsichi.3 We went to the rally straight away.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the Orange Revolution. Then, the main revolutionary work was organized by the Pora! social initiative, which consisted of two parts. The volunteer section used black symbols, while the wing pursuing political ambitions operated in yellow. The latter soon discredited itself, while Black Pora! scored points during the revolution and then split into two organizations: Opora (currently a network of independent election observers with an excellent reputation) and Vidsich (focusing on peaceful protest actions on the streets to protect human rights, civil liberties and constitutional freedoms).

Of course, both organizations joined the Revolution of Dignity protest movement. Opora patrolled the vicinity of hospitals to prevent the Titushky and the militia from kidnapping hospitalized Maidan participants; they also contacted foreign politicians and public activists to sensitize the world to the situation in Ukraine. Vidsich encouraged students of the capital’s universities to go to protests instead of classes, organized student columns, and guarded one of the entrances to the Maidan near the Lach Gate. Thanks to them standing on duty in this location, the Vidsich members – in their zone of responsibility – were the first to stop Berkut police when they tried to storm the square. In calmer moments, they would catch provocateurs, organize the flow of people visiting the Maidan, and so forth.

I did not stay with Vidsich, which had taken on many tasks at the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity. Three groups are formed around every important social movement: supporters, opponents, and the undecided. It is the neutral majority that tips the balance in favour of the winners. The Vidsich people actively communicated with every interested person (including those who were not interested). They carried out street actions, handed out leaflets, and they talked, and they talked, and they talked.

This type of working with people on a personal level is emotionally exhausting. You may need to deal with aggressive interlocutors; sometimes you have to explain things that seem self-evident and engage in discussions about them. Despite the wall of indifference or prejudice, it is essential to keep on talking. Someone, eventually, will take a flyer and find the courage to join later. Someone else will pretend to be neutral during the action, but then they will bring medicines and food. Even if the action seems ineffective, it sows the seeds of doubt and publicizes the protests. Talking to people is really necessary, every time. In 2004, I had enough passion for this type of activism, but not so much in 2013. I simply didn’t have the energy to talk that much any more. This is why I stayed on the Maidan. There, I immediately met many friends from the times of the Orange Revolution. I also made new acquaintances, which later turned into friendships.

I joined housing volunteers. After all, activists from different regions, dozens, no, hundreds of people, came to the protest. Private Kyiv residents, local churches, and hotel and hostel owners in the capital were willing to provide them with accommodation. Our task was to find a roof over the heads of all those arriving and make sure they had a good stay. So, during the day I went to street campaigns, and in the evenings I took care of housing people. Overnight, I slept in the Vidsich office.

It was no different on the night of November 29–30. Back then, it seemed to us that there weren’t enough people, that the protests would die down, and that the authorities would take Ukraine away from Europe. We imagined years of stagnation and arrogance of power ahead of us. We understood the tragedy of such a solution, and we knew that we would stay there, protesting, until the end. Between 3:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. I was standing somewhere near the column with Berehynia. Tired, I finally went to take a nap with the Vidsich – a cubbyhole in the basement with poor mobile reception. At four in the morning, the uniformed services forcefully dispersed the protesters, and the scale of violence shocked the entire country. I found out about it from my dad – he called me; somehow, he managed to get through and asked if I had been hurt.

In the morning, Kyiv resembled a stormy sea. I tried to find my friends by phone because I had left some of them behind at the Maidan. A Berkut member beat up Katya Overchenko, a person responsible for accommodation; he hit her with a baton, but she escaped. The youth hid in the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel; so, come the morning, crowds were flocking in that direction. Thousands of Kyiv residents and visitors rushed to help. This is how the Euromaidan Public Sector was born.

Euromaidan Public Sector. Architecture and structure of the Maidan in the time and space of the Revolution of Dignity

The air in Mikhailovsky (Archangel Michael’s) Monastery seemed charged, almost to the point of electric shock. People came from all directions – the crowd grew. Everyone wanted to do something, to demonstrate their outrage at the beating of students by Berkut special police. It went without saying: we needed to get organized.

Colleagues from the Public Sector (we came up with that name a few days later, but we were already functioning by then) set up tents in the courtyard in front of the cathedral.

We took down personal contact data from everyone who came and wished to join the protest, in order to later inform specific people about further actions. The risk of small groups exposing themselves to danger had to be minimized. Since there were plenty of volunteers, we began to divide them into hundreds and appoint the most active ones, those with natural leadership skills, to the positions of centurions and decurions. Then those persons chose meeting places and informed other group members about the actions.

In this tent, I went to work. During the times of the Orange Revolution and participation in Black Pora!, I learned a valuable rule: engage in necessary work without taking on organizational functions. All Black Pora! activists knew how to do this. You show up, and you do whatever is needed without waiting for anyone, without fighting for the leadership role. The one who organizes others better, generates necessary ideas, or plans implementation – this person emerges spontaneously and naturally becomes a leader. There is no need to prove or explain anything to anyone – a person gains legitimacy in the group through his or her own actions and decisions. This is how the horizontal structure works; it was on this principle that Black Pora! was based, and then we organized ourselves in the same way during Euromaidan.

At that stage, the Revolution of Dignity was carried out by many groups that had influence and their own forms of self-organization. Someone was creating a well-defined coordination division. Someone else – as we did – followed the principle of natural leadership. Euromaidan was a nation in miniature.

In addition to organizing the protesters, we had to cope with many other important tasks. For instance, legal protection needed to be provided to the beaten-up students, against whom false criminal cases were initiated. It was necessary to find out which hospitals these people were sent to, and what help they needed. More than one demonstrator was missing, and their families were looking for them. A separate tent dealt with all these matters, and after the rally on December 1, 2013, that group continued their activities for the Euromaidan. They were responsible for the legal battles.

Material and technical support was another matter. People offered help, and we had to use it as effectively as possible and report it efficiently because Euromaidan was based to a large extent on trust. A separate tent helped self-organize all people who wanted to support Euromaidan materially in some way, for example by bringing firewood, making stoves, buying medicine for the injured, and so forth.

In another tent, socks, gloves, hats, warm clothes and shoes were distributed. Many victims of beatings during Euromaidan lost their belongings during the attack. Lots of people needed a change of clothes.

Accommodation. Accommodation was available in many apartments, offices and hostels, and the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the National Exhibition Centre (one of the five largest in the world) also opened their doors to the Maidan protesters. There was enough space for large groups of people, but they had to be provided with bedding, food, medicine (colds were common during Euromaidan), toilets and cleaning and laundry facilities, clothing, and security. The Euromaidan Public Sector provided accommodation; people settled in and participated in protest activities together. The involvement of large institutions in the revolution – the Expo Centre and the Patriarchal Cathedral – really helped. It is easier to organize people to block a government district or to go on a street march if all participants live together. During the Revolution of Dignity, the Euromaidan Public Sector provided accommodation for over ten thousand people.

Heating points. We had addresses in Kyiv – after November 30 – where open doors were waiting for Euromaidan participants if they wished to enter and warm up.

On December 1, a huge demonstration took to the streets of Kyiv – according to various estimates, between five hundred thousand and a million people. A wave of people simply washed away the fences installed by the authorities in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the central square of the capital. The uniformed services’ officers fled when they saw how many people had gathered. Tents were quickly pitched on the Maidan, and activists moved from the courtyard of Mikhailovsky Monastery to wooden booths. If it weren’t for the revolution, New Year’s Eve trinkets would have been sold here to feign Christmas prosperity.

Activists also located themselves in Kyiv City Hall and the Trade Union Building.

In this way, Euromaidan physically won symbolic space for itself. Various groups of influence, public and political organizations, movements and associations divided the central square into their zones of responsibility. A stage was installed for announcing news and information about the protests, and this was where the leaders of the Revolution of Dignity and people who wanted to show their support spoke. Maidan’s self-defence was formed – an alternative to law enforcement officers. Its participants voluntarily monitored security and order in the area controlled by the protesters. All groups of influence were coordinated by the National Resistance Headquarters – a non-partisan formation bringing together representatives of all forces involved in the revolutionary resistance movement, including the Public Sector.

The scale of self-organization was redoubled. Everyone helped provide something: food, medical care, accommodation, all sorts of support, creative initiatives, and actions. After December 9, when security forces surrounded the capital’s central square, barricades began to appear on its outskirts. As Ukrainian artist Olexa Mann aptly noted, the Maidan turned into a structured city without a single architect.

In addition to spatial changes, there were changes in the organizational structure. Various groups of influence could already be conditionally divided into conservative and liberal, more radical or inclined towards peaceful resistance. The National Resistance Headquarters managed to find a compromise and harmonize cooperation among this cacophony of public initiatives and the political opposition.

Regional Euromaidans responded to the dispersal with a new, powerful wave of aid and support and a veritable invasion of activists from all over the country. Residents of the capital worked during the day, and after work they went to the Maidan.

Over time, the Resuscitation Reform Package was born in the Public Sector: experts from various areas of the country’s life perfected the required changes in the state apparatus to be implemented after the revolution. The initiative born on the Maidan later brought a lot of benefits to the country because it presented the authorities with ready-made draft laws and reform options.

Generally speaking, the Euromaidan Public Sector – created, among others, by many members of the former Black Pora! – was the main carrier of the idea of non-violent resistance. We realized that the December 1 rally was possible precisely because of its peaceful nature. On the same day, an anonymous group of radicals organized a provocation in the government district near the Presidential Administration building (currently the President’s Office). This had terrible consequences: Berkut beat and detained dozens of random protesters as the riot ‘organizers’, who mysteriously spoke Russian and covered their faces, fled. I still believe that they acted on behalf of the then-authorities or the Russian secret services.

My friends from the Euromaidan Public Sector and myself tried to disrupt the action of the riot organizers, and we used our bodies to shield the policemen against the paving stones flying in their direction. Later, the same policemen whom we separated from the provocateurs whispered to us to leave immediately. We followed this advice, and along the way we warned anyone heading in the opposite direction. A few minutes later the attack began, and Berkut fighters injured many protesters.

Fortunately, these events did not discredit the protest movement or scare off potential supporters. People saw that the provocateurs behaved differently than the Euromaidan participants normally behaved. The Public Sector and other initiatives managed to reveal the truth and organize help for the victims.

Black Pora! made us believe that non-violent resistance as colourful revolutions, including those that end successfully, are bloodless. We had figures to look up to: on the one hand, Mahatma Gandhi, but also the Ukrainian dissidents who resisted the Soviet regime even though they had no chance of winning. We were in a better situation, richer with the experiences of others before us. We ridiculed the authorities and were able to emphasize in various ways that we were not afraid of them. Our activists were involved in the campaign on their own initiative, on a volunteer basis; we had no grants nor a specific source of financing, and so no sponsor imposed their rules on us. We organized ourselves into a multi-leader horizontal structure and operated according to the “copyleft” principle: we agreed that common achievements or products could not and would not be used by individuals for the purposes of furthering their own political careers. This distinguished us from Yellow Pora!, which had been perceived as a political project from the start. These values and principles were implemented in the Euromaidan Public Sector.

We organized general meetings where we shared information and ideas. If an idea received the support of at least ten people, it was implemented. Among others, art exhibitions, garbage segregation on the Maidan, and “peace duty”, whose aim was to reduce the level of spontaneous aggression between protesters, gained sufficient recognition to proceed to the implementation stage.

People with similar interests gathered in specific sections, or departments. A security department, a creative department (under my leadership), a street action organization department, a media cooperation department, an accommodation department, a logistic support department, a legal services department, etc. were established. Some worked in the structures of the Public Sector; others left and managed on their own, gathered like-minded people around them, and only occasionally needed help. A scientific institution in Kyiv provided us with a room for office work, another gave us a room for meetings. Preparations for activities requiring presence on the streets took place in booths on the Maidan.

We communicated with each other and with less-active participants via Facebook. The Russian social networking site VKontakte, which was popular in Ukraine at that time, was used to conduct an agitation campaign and disseminate public information.

Our security department protected the personal sphere of the most active participants of Euromaidan, whose names appeared in the media and who were prosecuted by the authorities. This work was organized by experienced activists from the times of Black Pora!. They instructed how to notice surveillance, how to spot provocateurs, and how to behave. We developed individual safety protocols (for example, living together because there were attempts to catch, arrest or mutilate individual activists; reporting our destinations when moving around the city so that friends would know where and with whom to look for us; avoiding walking alone, etc.). We had an action plan in case of an attack: lawyers and friends were on stand-by, ready to help at any moment. The system failed once when, on the orders of the authorities, the Titushky kidnapped Ihor Lutsenko, an activist of the Public Sector of Euromaidan, and Yuri Verbytsky, a Euromaidan activist, from the hospital (it was Ihor who had brought Yuri in with a concussion). In January 2014, both men were interrogated and tortured near the village of Hnidyn in the Boryspil region. They were then abandoned in the forest. Yuri died from his injuries, while Ihor managed to reach a human settlement. As soon as he was admitted to the hospital again, we tracked him down because we were looking for him tirelessly and were calling all the hospitals in Kyiv and the surrounding area. Incidentally, we used that same method to search for every person who went missing. We collected data in hospitals, police stations, detention centres, courts and morgues.

During public actions, we were able to distinguish provocateurs from representatives of the authorities. They must have been either criminals recruited by the authorities or plainclothes militiamen – I cannot say for sure. These people tried to instigate unjustified violence, called for shop windows to be smashed, etc. We printed leaflets with information on how to recognize a provocateur, even if he pretends to be a participant of Euromaidan. We “muted” such people in the crowd: if someone started shouting aggressive slogans, we chanted pro-European slogans in unison. We tried to spot a potential provocateur, and when we succeeded an activist would approach the rascal unnoticed and accompanied him like a shadow. If the situation escalated, it was possible to lead the pest out of the column and somehow neutralize or distract him.

When the authorities began to bring anti-Maidan activists and organized groups of Titushky to Kyiv, the security department began collecting information about the location of the opponents, their possible plans, etc.

During each march, we accompanied the columns, just like the organizers of other groups of influence. If an activist from the Euromaidan Public Sector was walking somewhere in the middle of the column, he or she would ask participants to adjust their pace to him or her because spreading out the column was dangerous as the outlier group risked being surrounded by provocateurs, kidnapped by policemen, or hit by cars. Someone always stood on the outskirts of the column and made sure that people did not go further out onto the unblocked street than traffic regulations allowed. Of course, these rules did not apply in the case of multi-thousand-people actions such as the one on December 1, 2013. They made no sense there because the crowd filled the entire space – both the sidewalks and the road. Car traffic would stop completely.

The route was always precisely marked out, and the organizers and participants knew it in advance. It was reported to the appropriate offices and made public so that the authorities could not accuse the organizers of acting arbitrarily. In Ukraine, citizens should inform the authorities about planned street actions, but they do not have to apply for permission. The right to protest in the streets is fundamental.

The column was always led by a person with a megaphone, and several activists with loudspeakers walked along the column, so people everywhere knew what was happening at the head of the march. They weren’t bored; they could chant their favourite slogans.

Directly on the Maidan, the Public Sector participated in self-defence. During the attack on December 11, we maintained the “Lviv barricade” on Instytutska Street. Volodymyr Viatrovych, a Ukrainian historian, currently a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine, participated in these events. The following method was invented to stop the attack: in several rows, people tightly linked their arms and thus created “live chains”. It was difficult for the militiamen to break through such a human blockade. Security forces tried to pull individual participants out or attempted to squeeze inside. You had to be careful not to cause bodily harm to uniformed services employees but at the same time not to take a single step back. Resisting the pressure of the uniformed officers is not an easy task; you can get injured both from blows with a baton and by the crowd, which is why we followed the principle of rotation of those who participated in this form of resistance. Demonstrators who had finished their “shift” were immediately replaced by new ones. There was uproar whenever the security forces used batons. A spotlight illuminated the attack from the stage and everything was filmed by journalists. The security forces did not manage to capture the Maidan at that time, although they were breaking through from all sides. They tried to use a water cannon, but it was taken away from them and blocked. This happened near the Kyiv City Hall building. Meanwhile, Vidsich members defended their barricade at Lach Gates.

The security at the entrances to the main square also ensured the protesters’ safety. The 24-hour patrols were organized by one of the hundreds4 of Public Sector members in the ranks of the self-defence without the involvement of the entire Public Sector in these processes.

The creative department, headed by me, formulated the main ideas and values of Euromaidan. We monitored people’s mood and responded to how it was changing. We were particularly successful with the series of pictures “Euromaidan is…”, made in the style of the good-natured caricatures of the American Love Is comics – popular in Ukraine in the 1990s – found in chewing gum inserts. This idea was mine and the drawings were made by the artist Olexandra Navrotska. They reflected the atmosphere on the Maidan with finesse and jokingly commented on situations that only the protesters themselves could understand. They quickly gained popularity, and over time this popularity travelled beyond the borders of the city, and then even of the country. If you understood one of these drawings, then you were part of a community. People recognized themselves in the drawings and posted them instead of their profile pictures on Facebook. Souvenir shops caught on to the trend: they printed pictures on magnets and sold them in underpasses even though we had assumed that the images would be free; we made the printable versions available free of charge on the internet.

Euromaidan is when you live for free in the city centre for weeks. A trip to Kyiv used to be an expensive pastime. Euromaidan made it more egalitarian, provided you like extreme tourism ☺.

Euromaidan is when you decorate law enforcement officers along with the Christmas tree. One of the actions of the Euromaidan Public Sector involved sticking origami and fresh flowers onto members of the security forces, whose cordons were blocking the government district or surrounding the access roads to the Maidan. The officers tried not to move or talk to anyone. Sprinkled with decorations, they stopped being scary or threatening. The emotional tension among the protesters visibly decreased, and the mood improved palpably.

Euromaidan is when handing out buckwheat is not considered political bribery. In the years leading up to the Revolution of Dignity, corrupt old politicians in Ukraine tried to influence the election results by handing out food parcels to poorer voters. These sets always included buckwheat – a cheap staple food for Ukrainians. Civil society ridiculed this cynicism: poor people gave up their future to schemers in exchange for cheap food. Meals were prepared and distributed duringEuromaidan, and free field kitchens operated. Free food went from being a national shame to a symbol of unity.

Euromaidan is when you don’t have to be ashamed of spending a night with an MP. In pre-revolutionary times, deputies, i.e. members of parliament, were regarded as rich, influential people who had acquired their wealth illegally. If someone cared about their reputation, they stayed away from MPs. Even speaking of opposition politicians, not all of them enjoyed a good standing, although there were decent people among them. And yet we needed every parliamentarian on the Maidan because the presence of persons with immunity status protected the protesters on night shifts from attacks by security forces. We appealed to oppositionists to unite in the “deputy guard” and come to the Maidan at night. Many answered our plea.

Euromaidan is when real-life “Berkut members” act as the background of your photos. The protesters showed that they were not afraid of the security forces. They often posed for photos against a background of the militia cordons. We dedicated one of the “Euromaidan is…” pictures to this wild form of entertainment.

Euromaidan is when you read the future from the stars… on the European Union flag.

The creative department designed leaflets for various Euromaidan Public Sector campaigns. For example, on February 14 our volunteers organized a souvenir lottery among the protesters. We made the lottery tickets from leaflets. They were handed out – intentionally – under the noses of the militiamen, as well as to them, actually. The illustrations for the leaflets (and other printed materials of the Public Sector) were made by my sister – the well-known Ukrainian artist Tetiana Duman, a revolutionary in the ranks of Black Pora! in 2004. We published poems on the leaflets, and then those poems circulated in text messages (smartphones were not as widespread then as they are today). In order to put additional psychological pressure on the uniformed officers (they saw that people on the Maidan were having a great time and began to doubt their own motivations), we distributed a poem among them: “leave your stupid grenades, throw your shield to the scrapyard, surrender to love.”

Within the creative department, a group of women searched social networks to contact soldiers of the internal troops and other special forces (they had accounts mainly on the Russian VKontakte platform). These women engaged in discussions with the soldiers and convinced them that people at the Maidan had peaceful intentions. We learned that each time before they set off to our street operations they were forced to watch Russian news or films depicting provocateurs from December 1. We convinced many to sabotage their criminal orders and discouraged them from brutality. We weren’t the only ones doing this: the wave of grassroots dialogues grew to such an extent that the authorities all over Ukraine had to search for Berkut members who would agree to take part in violent actions.

In addition to paper leaflets, we designed and distributed electronic information pamphlets on the internet, with tips on sabotage for uniformed officers, formulas for recognizing provocateurs, etc. We made infographics about Yanukovych’s crimes and machinations, about dictatorial laws, about the scandalous 2014 budget that was adopted by the criminal authorities, and about boycotting goods sold by companies associated with the pro-government Party of Regions, and so on.  

The need for a legal department gradually decreased as Ukrainian lawyers organized themselves into the Legal Hundred, then into the Euromaidan SOS, and even later into the Law Advisory Group, which still provides support in all matters related to Euromaidan. They handled the legal protection of protesters very well. We supported them with street actions (prepared by another department) that involved small groups of several people standing throughout Kyiv and in particularly frequented places of other cities in Ukraine holding posters with information about the victims and the need to hold the perpetrators accountable. Slogans such as “Don’t fear, don’t struggle! Unpunished evil is growing!” were used. This action is still held every month to honour the activists who suffered or died during Euromaidan.

Perhaps the most famous action of the Euromaidan Public Sector was a piano concert in front of a row of security forces. A photo of that event travelled around the world and became a symbol of the Revolution of Dignity. Oleh Maceh came up with this action, and playing the piano was his twenty-three-year-old son Markiyan, also a participant in the revolution.

We organized many actions. We used them to exert psychological pressure on the security forces, to keep up the revolutionary spirit, and to inform. Sometimes we took on tasks that were unusual for us. For example, after the victory of Euromaidan, Tetiana and I found a distributor of welding torches. Using those torches, we toppled the two-meter fence that the Yanukovych regime used to separate the Parliament from the public and prevent protests in front of the building. Sometimes at night I went on duty with the Maidan doctors, including Dr. Olena Bidovanets. They created their own professional initiative there.

Euromaidan as a building block in the metaphysical construction of the Ukrainian political nation

I consider Euromaidan to be an emergent system at its best. When many relevant people take small, simple actions, they ultimately create a harmonized mechanism.

What do I mean by “relevant” here? Robert Sapolsky cited an interesting example in his series of Human Behavioural Biology lectures at Stanford University. A long time ago, at a farmers’ fair in the United States, it was a popular pastime to guess the weight of a bull. Various numbers came from the audience, and the arithmetic mean of all answers corresponded to the actual weight of the animal. Sapolsky noted that such precision is achieved only in groups of people with common experiences and skills that allow such an estimation. This principle also applies to other situations.

Effective self-organization into an emergent system is possible among people with specific experience. Ukrainians have passed that experience on from generation to generation – both throughout the period of struggle for survival in the conditions of the aggressive colonial policy of the Russian Federation, and later, under the yoke of the repressive machine of the prison of nations, namely the Soviet Union. Protests were frequent and took the form of public speeches and self-organization in gulags, addresses by intellectuals, and the underground. Later on, the Granite Revolution, then the Orange Revolution, and the Revolution of Dignity broke out. Even when the protests ended in failure, the memory of them was passed on. That memory included both the effects of the defeat and the ways in which defeat can be effectively counteracted.

This knowledge was passed on to my generation by our grandparents and our parents, and we teach it to our children. Many public organizations have had experience in organizing events, so there was a formula for dealing with situations in which the authorities would cross the line and go too far: they would go to the Maidan in their town, and then to the Maidan in Kyiv. More complicated formulas for these protests have also been developed. Groups of more active and organized citizens absorbed these instructions, implemented them, and passed them on.

The victors of the Granite Revolution drew conclusions from the experiences of the Helsinki Human Rights Group, the Shestydesiatnyk protests,5 and the Norilsk uprising.6 Later, they would support and inspire the Orange Revolution; for example, the Ukrainian cultural activist Markiyan Ivashchyshyn went on hunger strike in 1990 and then helped Black Pora! in every possible way. Orange Revolution activists transferred and applied their experience in the Revolution of Dignity. When Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014, many of us, regardless of our experience in activism – whether long-standing or modest – went to the front lines and became involved in volunteering. The full-scale Russian invasion made two more simple blueprints of Ukrainian actions within the emergent system understandable: if you are attacked, enlist in the army; if you cannot do that, become a volunteer. Volunteering is made up of both novices and people with extensive experience, and the rules of conduct are simple and generally available: report, transport (people and materials), do no harm, be responsible. Russian intellectuals describe the passive masses in their country as oppressed, dark, lacking empathy, selfish, greedy, and cruel. In Ukraine, the nation is political. Of course, there are demoralized citizens among us, but during important changes we act as a coherent system, and even the worst of us are capable of heroic deeds. That is why I love my country so dearly.