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    Posted August 9, 2014 by
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Ukraine unrest

    MaiaKiev and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Ukraine crisis as it unfolds
    More from MaiaKiev

    Real Maidan Returns!


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Maia Mikhaluk says people who participated in protests in Ukraine months ago have moved on with their lives, but some people chose to continue camping out in Kiev, essentially creating miniature tent cities in the Maidan Square. “People in Kiev felt like those who stayed in Maidan most likely were not even there during the revolution. They are just taking advantage of the fact that new government doesn’t remove them by force,” she said. She photographed some confrontations between Kiev community members and those camping out in the city’s streets as well as locals helping to clean Maidan Square. “It’s convenient to stay rent-free… They keep hoping the Kiev citizens would continue supporting them like they supported protesters during the revolution,” she said. For the past few months she avoided the area because of these tent cities, but on August 9 people came out to help clean the Independence Square.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…

    In the end of February the protests in Kyiv ended as ex-president Yanukovich ran away to Russia and Ukrainians had a chance to hold early presidential elections. A lot of men who during the months of protests stood on Maidan (Independence Square) volunteered into the Army and went to the East of Ukraine to protect our country from Russian invasion. Most people returned to their lives, their work. We need to be all contributing with as much passion and commitment to strengthening our country robbed by corruption of previous government and weakened by ongoing war with Russia.

    As 99% of participants of Maidan left, some stayed and possibly some new ones came in their place claiming that they had been there from the beginning. Over these months a handful of people continued to occupy Independence Square, refusing to remove their tents and not allowing to clear unneeded barricades.

    Kyiv citizens who during the protests were on Maidan and also very supportive of protesters who came from other regions, now were growing increasingly frustrated with this illegal occupation of the downtown of Kyiv. Most of us went out of our way to get around that part of city so that we wouldn’t see what is happening there. It was offensive to the memory of important events that took place on Maidan in the winter and especially to the memory of the people who laid their lives fighting for freedom.

    What made it even worse was increasingly frequent occasions of people from Maidan raiding businesses in the downtown. This tent camp on Independence Square was now hosting very different kind of people compared to the winter.

    The city officials have tried number of times to negotiate the removal of the tent camp, but what they heard was that Maidan as it was would continue staying there to “control the new government”. It was not clear to most people in Kyiv why the control had to be executed by camping out in the downtown doing nothing but drinking and raiding local businesses.

    Yesterday city government called Kyiv citizens to come to Independence Square to help clean it. Today REAL Maidan returned! People who cared for their city and for their country, people of different ages, some dressed for dirty cleaning work and some dressed like they were coming to a celebration all joining efforts and working with great enthusiasm to remove barricades, tents and trash from Independence Square. It felt like we were reclaiming our city from being held hostage for months!

    The work was frequently interrupted by verbal fights with the inhabitants of tents refusing to move out, and some bigger provocations like setting on fire piles of tires or occasionally throwing fire bombs (cocktail Molotoff).

    But people kept on cleaning with the same determination I saw in Dec-Feb when they were building those barricades for protection. We hope that today we will free Maidan completely and it will become a place where we remember the heroes and celebrate freedom.
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