Sunday, November 28, 2004

As I wrote earlier, on Thursday, I happened to be by the Cabinet of Ministers building at a very interesting time.

Slightly past noon, the pro-Yanukovych people (the blue) were lined up on the hill in the park, in front of their tents, and the pro-Yushchnko crowd (the orange) were gathering below, coming from all directions.

At first, there weren't too many of the orange - the cars were still driving by, most with orange ribbons on them, honking three times, as if shouting out the three syllables of Yushchenko's name. There were several traffic cops around, very polite.

When we crossed the street to approach the blue ones, a middle-aged man with a digital video camera (a relatively small one, not professional) came up to us and introduced himself as a Kharkiv TV station correspondent. He asked our opinion on what's going on, but since I was with two foreign journalists, it was easy for us to avoid having a conversation with him - he did look like a security services person compiling a file on the protesters.

Very soon, everything around was orange, and the blue crowd on the hill suddenly began to look tiny. One by one, the orange guys started coming up to the blue ones; then, more and more; until they all mixed. There were only men among the blue, while the orange had men and women of all ages in their ranks.

It was totally exciting - it was hard to believe at first that it would end peacefully, but when the orange ones started their chant, I knew it'd be okay: they were chanting "Slava shakhtaryam! Slava shakhtaryam!" ("Glory to the coalminers!" - referring to those from Donetsk region, a coal-mining region that Yanukovych used to be a governor of.) Some of the blue guys sounded indignant - "But we are from Crimea, not Donbas!" - and the orange ones standing nearby replied, laughing - "Oh, who cares now... Slava shakhtaryam!" Another chant was this: "East and West together!" (strangely, I don't remember what it sounded like in Ukrainian - I mean, I know the translation, of course, but I don't remember how to say it so it rhymes, as it did then...)

When they all merged, we climbed up to the park, too. (I fell a couple times because of my stupid Doc Martens shoes - I feel like I'm wearing skates, not shoes - and I survived only because there were enough men around - in blue and in orange - to catch me...)

Among other things, we saw half a dozen men standing in circle, one guy holding a torn half of Yanukovych's portrait, and another guy, orange, telling everyone around loudly that it's not right to tear the portrait, that the guy who held it had the right to vote for Yanukovych, that it's not the portrait that's to blame and not the portrait's owner, etc. We saw many groups like this, the orange and the blue together, discussing something totally peacefully, like old buddies. No one was beaten, though the blue ones were in such overwhelming minority that I'm still quite shocked nothing bad happened.

We stopped one blue guy, asked him if he thought there'd be civil war, as many people were predicting. He said, "No, Ukrainians don't fight, won't fight. East and West are together." He was a metallurgic factory worker from Kryvyi Rih, a town in Dnipropetrivsk region, who came to Kyiv to support his candidate, Yanukovych.

We also talked with an orange guy - he said that they didn't invade the blue guys' tent site - they "just came up to talk to them, to try to convince them, to show them which side the truth is on; everything was peaceful and quiet, no invasion or anything," he said - and I did believe him, because I saw it all myself.

A group of the blue ones lined up again after a while, and marched away, in the direction opposite from the enormous orange crowd by the Cabinet of Ministers. But some stayed and continued their chats with the opponents.

There were fires set up by the blue tents, and we all stood around them, getting warm.


  1. You are witnesing history in the making Veronika! How special, even if it's somehow hard. God bless Ukraina and may she find the way of liberty and happiness! :)

  2. Many thanks for your wonderful and updated Kiev street reports Neeka..they are very wonderfully enlightening. Do you think the Supreme Court will side with Yushchenko tomorrow? Professors Irina Fizer and Albert Nigrin, New Jersey, USA