Reflections on having spent last week in Kyiv

Each year Innovista’s international leadership team meets in Ukraine. The last two years we met in Lviv. This year it was to Kyiv. A revolution in the week/days before you are supposed to travel always sharpens the mind. In my case constantly checking the news, hoping we would still meet. Not just because I like a little danger but also because this is always a significant time for us as an organisation. On Thursday after over 70 people had been killed things began to calm down and the decision was made to go ahead with our meeting. We arrived in Kyiv on Monday.

For a country that had just experienced a revolution things appeared very normal. The only signs of something happening on our hour-long journey to the seminary on the outskirts of the city we were based in a joint checkpoint between police and protesters and two burnt out army trucks.

On the Tuesday evening we visited Maidan – Independence square in Kyiv. The following day  I wrote:

 Given what happened just 6 days ago it’s remarkable how peaceful it is. There is a sense of quiet awe and remembrance. One of the more bizarre things I noticed were that the pavements are surprisingly clean and tidy! the sea change that has happened could be summed up by the reaction of one protester when we entered one of their large tents “take photos, there are no secrets anymore”.  Amazing.

A few reflections a week later.

This is not just a change in politicians – real change is intended

From journalists putting aside the chance for an exclusive in the public interest – delaying publication of the huge cache of incriminating documents found in Yanukovych’s mansion in order to make them public – yanukovychleaks.org to joint roadblocks with protesters and police together, ensuring police take no bribes. The stand-in president and politicians were informed there would be an end to politicians having motorcades that shut down local traffic for 20 minutes periods. “That’s not how we do things anymore”. The comment about no secrets another example.  The ‘Maidan’ are seeking to end the abuse of power and transform it into serving the population.

The most remarkable thing is how these changes have taken place so quickly

We were able to walk into and around the HQ of the protesters. Incredible.

The people, tired of corruption have risen up and are getting involved in and overseeing all aspects of life. Real change is intended. If Putin and Russia allow it…

The church is near the centre, not on the periphery

This aspect surprised me. On the main square (Maidan) is a stage from which most of us have seen some of the speeches from opposition leaders and protesters.

What isn’t reported is that on the hour, every hour church leaders (Orthodox and Protestant) lead prayers for the nation. The girl who served us breakfast in the seminary was leading worship through the night during the protests. Behind the stage is a prayer tent where churches have come together and are offering prayer 24-7. One of my colleagues in Ukraine volunteered during the protests sorting and distributing medical supplies.  You’ve seen some of the famous pictures of priests standing in the gap between protesters and police.

Life goes on

Prices are rising yes but life is also going on as normal. Just days after a revolution I would have expected a breakdown in public services. Yet as a visitor everything seemed to be functioning as normal.

Putin and Russia are doing their best to derail and cannot be trusted

It’s no secret the revolution and prospect of closer ties with Europe is disastrous to Russia’s geopolitical designs as is being demonstrated in Crimea. When there we heard stories of Russian agitation and passports being handed out in the east of the country – providing Russia an excuse to step in and protect the interests of their citizens. Exactly what happened in Georgia. Of course Russian politicians last week denied any agitation. Lies. A friend told how Russian state media reported how ‘extremists’ had shot and killed a medic. Later they switched over to CNN and the same medic was being interviewed on her survival having being shot by a police sniper. Last week my Ukrainian colleagues were fearful about Russia’s response. This week we are seeing it in its full horror as Russia annexes Crimea.

Significant days for Ukraine. Dangerous days both for Ukraine and the whole of Europe.

What will the ‘West’ do?

As someone who has a vested interest, here on western edge of Europe I feel helpless. I want to step in and do something but what?

If you’re the praying sort EAUK have announced a week of prayer for Crimea.

 The famous piano… More photos hereDSCN0280

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