Oh. Two major rallies in one day is a bit too much for me. And, as Yulia, Lutsenko and Kyrylenko are addressing Maidan right now, there's a nuthouse of a different sort taking place right outside our window at the other end of Khreshchatyk: some ad campaign game in front of some store, I guess - and they keep screaming, "Cola! Fanta! Cola! Fanta!"
Anyway, the Party of the Regions rally from noon to 3 pm - and the rally at Maidan from 5 pm to 7:30 pm, both pretty impressive and very different.
Lots of people with Party of the Regions and Communist flags at European Square, stinking of the trains they arrived here in. Despite their purely political flags and slogans, their rally was introduced as "our wonderful concert" - and then there was lots of music - all kinds of Ukrainian, not Russian, songs. Which was strange, and many got bored pretty soon, I guess.
There was a tiny crowd at Maidan at that time, and the part of Khreshchatyk between the two rallies was guarded by both regular and riot police. When Yanukovych folks were leaving their territory, out of boredom and curiousity, and walking towards Maidan, the cops, in that cute and funny fatherly/motherly fashion, were asking them to please take off their blue badges and hide their blue flags, just to be safe - and most of them did.
At first, when Maidan wasn't filled up at all, I was concerned with the presence of thuggish-looking men with what looked like sticks but were actually wrapped-up flags - which could still be used as sticks. But at 5 pm, the crowd at Maidan was as huge as during the first Maidan (or the first anniversary celebration - but boy, the weather is so different now!), and the folks from the European Square could no longer be perceived as threatening.
To me, Maidan was like an adrenaline shot. Lots of memories, lots of orange color, many people still remember how to smile. I'm not so sure about the politics, though. But we'll see where it's gonna go from here.
At European Square, I took a few pictures of the guys from Shakhtersk - some coal mining town in the East, I guess. They were friendly, but then asked me where I was from, and I sinned and lied that I was a tourist from Moscow, to avoid going into all kinds of explanations and political discussions. I was shooting against the sun, and they turned around, for me to get a better view, and then they were really excited to see what came out of it. I asked if any of them had email, so that I could send them the pictures, but they shook their heads - no. Which, somehow, is very depressing.
And then I was at Maidan, before the wonderful crowd gathered there, and two old women - from the two opposing camps - were having an argument - were fighting like cats, actually. "Go over to European Square, to Yanukovych, there you'll have your stability!" And I did a video of the end of this fight, and at some point some old asshole with the Ukrainian flag hit the pro-Yanukovych woman with it - which was a pathetic thing to do, really. And then - ha-ha - he hit me on the head with that same flag, deliberately, though not hard at all, but still, and then he was yelling the usual stuff about the Jews - and so I went home amused and perplexed, to say the least.
And this is part of the reason I'm so happy that the crowd at Maidan eventually grew to be more or less representative of the people it's sort of nice to share the country with. Maybe those guys from Shakhtersk joined them, too, later. Who knows...
I hope to post some pictures and a few video clips later tonight.