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Rio de Emocion

trout just got real.

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Itís been an intense week. A hundred people got killed here at the Independence Square in Kiev, I found myself under sniper fire and got my journalism career kickstarted.



PHOTOS: http://www.vice.com/nl/read/euromaidan-staat-in-de-fik
http://www.demotix.com/news/3974240/...police-retreat
http://www.demotix.com/news/3991334/...rol-parliament

As some of you know I've spend the last couple of weeks in the middle of the Euromaidan protest camp in Kyiv, Ukraine. The people here come from all groups of of the population and have had enough of the smurfed up life in Ukraine while the president and his cronies buy themselves pirate ships and golden toilets.

Last tuesday 18th of February, the protesters and their self-defense squads took to the park near the parliament. However, they were met by overwhelming police violence involving tear gas, metal pellets fired from shotguns, stun grenades with nails and other shrapnel affixed to them. About twenty people died that day, and a large part of the Euromaidan territory was taken over by the 'Berkut' riot police. All of this happened while I was following the events on Twitter, while I was in Warsaw, having left Kyiv a week previously. So of course I booked the soonest flight there and arrived in the Ukrainian capital at 6 PM. Because of roadblocks set up by the then-government, it took me three hours to reach the square.

The whole damn place was on fire when I arrived. It was scarcely recognisable because it was starting to become a theme park when I left - hipsters with analog cameras all over the place snapping pics of phantomime performers on the barricades. All that was gone now. The thousands of protesters are just frantically holding on and throwing everything they can at the police, while, as usual, keeping the tires burning.

The following day was pretty quiet, with the people rebuilding the barricades and continuing the barrage of rocks of molotov cocktails and stones throughout the day, until the president met the opposition and a truce was declared. Which didn't last long, as with most truces here.

10 AM on February 20th, the storm of the hill started. I'm nearly at the front of the mass of people with my gas mask and helmet on, expecting heavy melee clashes with the cops and getting beaten back again. What happened instead was that the cops, for one reason or another, retreated, letting the hordes of protesters attempt to take back the lost territory. They would succeed, but at heavy losses. That day, around a hundred people were shot by snipers in the buildings around the streets that they stormed, most of them by shots to the head, heart or arteries. This was definitely the work of trained military snipers, not riot police.

I saw many people getting shot during the morning assault. A lot of them just stopped moving, but it never really stopped the storm of the people. They kept streaming forward with their shields and sticks as the police on the ground kept retreating, while their comrades kept getting shot down. From the back, guys with metal plates and materials for new barricades kept streaming in. These Ukrainians are probably the bravest people I will ever meet.

I shot a number of photos, then headed back to upload them. As the adrenaline is still rushing through my body, I can focus on only one thing: uploading these and getting the scoop on this story. I was the first journalist on the battlefield, and I was determined to be the first to upload the story. As far as I know it hasn't been published on any front pages, but we'll see where it will get me.

The events of that day wouldn't end with the morning assault - later on, government forces would come back to fire AK-47s and SVD sniper rifles into the crowd. Many young people died. In the afternoon I was hanging back in front of the McDonalds on the square with a French colleague. We were near the makeshift open-air morgue, and he spotted the people putting down a couple of new bodies, covered with the Ukrainian flag. It was heard trying not to tear up when we saw the bodies. My colleague couldn't really keep a tight face anymore, as well as many people in the gathering crowd. Many of these bodies were kids younger than us, and they died because of some corrupt trouthead who just doesn't want to give up on power.

The whole thing is not over yet. While the president bitched out and fled the capital, he's said to hole up in Kharkiv, the second largest city in the country, where pro-Russian sentiments are strong. Nobody knows if at this point the situation will escalate to a civil war or a Russian invasion. A new acting parliament has been set up, but tensions are brewing in the country and the camp and its new barricades are still standing. As for me, I might be able to get some of my stories sold now.

Comments

  1. Shaibana's Avatar
    wouw, u really have some guts going back there.
    i dont watch the news everyday but the last time i heard there was peace for now :o

    this situation is very smurfed up, i cant believe that they now just shoot people down :S
  2. Freya's Avatar
    Holy crap kotora. Be safe you crazy mofo
  3. Shorty's Avatar
    holy crap, dude. I cannot imagine the having to go through that experience. It sounds ridiculously dangerous, intense, and life-changing, to say the least.

    I'm very sorry that your journalism career got kick-started with such a sad event, but I hope it takes you places. I'm always interested to read what you write about your journeys.
  4. Hollycat's Avatar
    I'm at a loss for words, and the only thing I can think to say rings hollow when you are actually at risk of getting killed.

    Stay safe.