Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Kiev's Maidan Encampment

Some live here round the clock; outsiders come to pay tribute to the dead and be part of this ongoing event.
  • Many of the barricades still stand on the Maidan. Each has a pedestrian entrance. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Many of the barricades still stand on the Maidan. Each has a pedestrian entrance. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Flowers for the dead strew the barricades, which may look like a mess but are kept tidy. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Flowers for the dead strew the barricades, which may look like a mess but are kept tidy. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Kiev residents come just to be part of this ongoing event. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Kiev residents come just to be part of this ongoing event. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Crowds around the stage on March 30, the 40th day since the worst of the bloodshed. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Crowds around the stage on March 30, the 40th day since the worst of the bloodshed. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A family outing, but a sombre one. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A family outing, but a sombre one. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A man dressed in Ukrainian Cossack costume by one of the many photographic memorials. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A man dressed in Ukrainian Cossack costume by one of the many photographic memorials. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • The sign says “Glory to the heroes of Ukraine“. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    The sign says “Glory to the heroes of Ukraine“. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Burnt-out minibuses used as barricades. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Burnt-out minibuses used as barricades. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A chapel where Ukrainians go to pray for the Maidan dead. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A chapel where Ukrainians go to pray for the Maidan dead. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • The Crimean Tatars have a tent on the Maidan. Now their homeland is part of Russia. Their traditional banner (left) flies alongside the Ukrainian flag. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    The Crimean Tatars have a tent on the Maidan. Now their homeland is part of Russia. Their traditional banner (left) flies alongside the Ukrainian flag. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • This tent, for the Donetsk regional “sotnya“, includes ethnic Azerbaijanis who have put up their own flag. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    This tent, for the Donetsk regional “sotnya“, includes ethnic Azerbaijanis who have put up their own flag. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A wrecked water-cannon truck forms part of the barricades. Behind it, the Khreschatik’s fashionable shops are open as usual. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A wrecked water-cannon truck forms part of the barricades. Behind it, the Khreschatik’s fashionable shops are open as usual. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Life goes on – this fairground ride, next to military-style tents, is working. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Life goes on – this fairground ride, next to military-style tents, is working. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Within the barricaded area, a smart shopping mall is open – no one sees any incongruity. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Within the barricaded area, a smart shopping mall is open – no one sees any incongruity. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A formal shrine built to commemorate the dead. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A formal shrine built to commemorate the dead. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Candles and flowers laid out on the ground. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Candles and flowers laid out on the ground. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Memorials to the “Heavenly Hundred” are everywhere on the Maidan. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Memorials to the “Heavenly Hundred” are everywhere on the Maidan. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Efforts have been made to collect the stories of all those who died. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Efforts have been made to collect the stories of all those who died. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • This young man was a traditional musician. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    This young man was a traditional musician. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Right Sector men in camouflage roll up in a truck. They are a minority presence here. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Right Sector men in camouflage roll up in a truck. They are a minority presence here. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Right Sector men pose for pictures. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Right Sector men pose for pictures. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • Funeral for a man who died of wounds received in February. His name is not known. The coffin was placed on a gun carriage drawn by an armoured personnel carrier. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    Funeral for a man who died of wounds received in February. His name is not known. The coffin was placed on a gun carriage drawn by an armoured personnel carrier. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A Ukrainian choir sings at the funeral. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A Ukrainian choir sings at the funeral. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • The procession sets off at walking pace through Kiev, church bells tolling as it passes. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    The procession sets off at walking pace through Kiev, church bells tolling as it passes. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • The procession sets off behind the coffin. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    The procession sets off behind the coffin. (Photo: John MacLeod)
  • A child’s picture calls for peace between Ukraine and Russia. (Photo: John MacLeod)
    A child’s picture calls for peace between Ukraine and Russia. (Photo: John MacLeod)

In a central Kiev square, elderly people and young families come to lay flowers at countless shrines to those who died in clashes between demonstrators and armed police in February.

The Maidan is still occupied by camouflage-clad groups who say they need to stay there to guard the revolution and watch how the political situation develops.

The atmosphere is peaceful, at times sombre and reverential as visitors – these are no casual tourists – mingle with the Maidan volunteers and stop to look at the photographs, candles and flowers laid out everywhere to honour the memory of the “Heavenly Hundred”.

At the weekend, the numbers swell and the stage at the heart of the square reverberates to speeches and songs as it did throughout the demonstrations earlier this year.

Barricades built out of tyres and debris still stand and lend an apocalyptic feel to the place. But the square is tidy, as the tent-dwellers clear it up as well as policing it.

The overall impression is of a sea of khaki tents, complete with cookhouses, woodpiles, smoking stoves and campfires. Many have signs showing which part of Ukraine that particular “sotnya” or volunteer unit hails from.

There are flags by the score – blue and yellow for Ukraine, the red-black colours favoured by nationalists, the distinctive forked symbol of the Crimean Tatars, and the odd Polish, Georgian or Azerbaijani national flag. And everywhere the blue and gold of the European Union – surely one of the few locations when this flag is flown with real gusto.