Thursday, November 21, the Ukrainian government announced a pause in the negotiations on conclusion of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Just half an hour later, the social networks were flooded with numerous comments of Ukrainians, dissatisfied with that decision, and calls for going on rallies in the capital.

First five hundred protesters, mostly young people, came to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square around 11 pm and camped near the Christmas tree frame. The press representatives immediately rushed on the scene and tagged the campaign "EuroMaidan".

Around the midnight, the number of protesters increased to 1000-1500 people and included regular Ukrainians, leaders of opposition political parties and some well-known politicians. Having delivered several passionate speeches, protesters organized a common table and hang out a few small posters.

Slightly over 100 people welcomed the morning of November 22 in the main square, but during the day the number of protesters was constantly changing, mainly due to curious city visitors. Activists distributed leaflets, made speeches on an improvised stage. A warming center was installed near the Independence Monument and everyone could take hot tea or coffee. A money-box to collect funds in support of EuroMaidan was placed nearby.

It is worth noting that no violations of public order were registered on Friday. Minor conflict occurred only because of installation of Christmas fair houses in the Maidan Nezaleznosti. Activists considered it an attempt to push them aside. Nevertheless, there were no fights.

By 6 pm, about one thousand protesters gathered in the square. Their number was increasing with every minute. Police officers kept order, lining up in rows along the Khreschatyk Street.

In the same evening, following the ruling of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv, the police dismantled the tents, installed by rally activists, but in general, the press service of the Kyiv Interior Ministry department reported that they had no complaints about the action itself and that no heavy-handed approach was expected.

"If protesters do not insist on installing tents and stalls, no measures will be taken against them. Otherwise, law enforcements will come into action, though we would prefer not to," spokesperson of the department Olha Bilyk said. 

No other incidents were registered that night. And despite pouring rain, about three thousand people remained in the square. On Saturday morning, November 23, the square was not very crowded - only 200 people gathered by 10 am. Activists spoke on the stage, but no slogans were chanted and no party logos were hung out.

By the lunch time people started to arrive, but mostly older citizens. Some spoke out on the issue, others donated money. By the way, some street people took advantage of the situation and came to eat and drink, though did not take part in the protest action.

In general, the crowd was calm. People were coming and going. Some spoke, others only listened, but nobody stayed long. Guests of the capital, visiting Kyiv on vacation or business, also came to see what was happening on the main square.

Professor Oleksandr Teletov, Doctor of Economics, was visiting Kyiv on his way back from a conference held recently in western Ukraine. He said that he as not impressed with what he had seen on Maidan. "We’re passing through Kyiv on our way home. We’ve decided to come, to listen, and to see what happens here. No good will come of it. Slogans are very weak. Attitude of people is indifferent. What is this slogan: "Ukraine is Europe"? Isn't it obvious? I understand the government. It is pragmatic. It is concerned about our economic situation, thinking how to improve it," he said.

This family couple Oleksandr and Natalia Marchuk is from Khmelnitsk region. Both stand for the European integration, though do not see any point in this rally. "This small crowd will hardly change anything. To get some results there must be way more people," Natalia said.

Iryna is rather skeptical about the event in general. "It is a load of codswallop, circus and nothing more. I don't think it will give any results," she said.

Unlike other interlocutors, student Denis came to Kyiv specially for the rally.  "I am from Kirovograd, and have come to Kyiv to participate in the rally, though I am leaving tonight as I have no place to stay. I support Ukraine's integration in the EU, as we do not have any future with Russia. We have to improve our standards and forge ahead, not to stay still." 

It is worth mentioning that the general situation on the square was calm, and every comer could express his position... unless it differs from the position of the majority.

Doctor Heorhiy Shvets, for example, could not finish his speech and was accused of "provocations". "I came to see what was going on. I thought there were normal people here. I tried to explain them that Switzerland, for example, speaks  three languages and it is still Europe. But they did not want to listen. So, what's the point to stay here?" he said leaving the square.

Two Kyiv residents Yaroslava and Svitlana came together to express their position for European integration and better future for their children. "We do stand for Europe, but the important thing is that they do not cheat on us as it happened in Yushchenko's case."

Agnia Dmytrivna came to Kyiv from Zaporizhya region. "To get some results we need not 50 people, but a nation-wide gathering. I am leaving today, but I will come back if necessary. I was one of those who nine years ago participated in the Orange Revolution. We do not need politicians, we need regular Ukrainians to make a difference," she opined.

Professional musician Volodymyr Shpynev says he comes to Maidan for the second day in a row, though he also doubts this rally can make a difference. "If there were 50 thousand people, things might go differently. However, whatever happens, it will change the history anyway," he said and added it would be better if more young people joined the rally. 

Andriy and Oksana also came purposely to Kyiv from Lviv to participate in the action.

Student Krystyna also arrived from Lviv and went to participate in the rally in "national outfit". "We came to Kyiv purposely to take part in the action and will stay as long as necessary. However, the crowd is not big enough, thus we have called and invited all our friends. People are very disappointed, they do not want to come anymore,  remembering the disappointment after the revolution of 2004."

Students of the Medical University Anna and Krystyna are from Zhytomyr. At first they could not explained what exactly they expected from the European integration. "We want better life. We are young generation and do not want our children to see the life we live now," Krystyna said after some thinking.

Pensioner Gennady told ForUm he stood "for himself". "I want my granddaughter to study abroad, to go there any time she wants and learn civilization. I stand here for myself and for her future."

Some time after noon activists started distributing leaflets of one of the political forces of Ukraine. Apparently, these leaflets had been brought beforehand. At the same time, no organized groups of people, brought by some political forces purposely, were spotted. The majority of ForUm's  interlocutors came on their own initiative and did not hear about any reward for participation in the rally.

At the same time, Oleh Rybachuk, former aide of ex-President Viktor Yushchenko, actively spoke about benefits of friendship between Ukraine and the EU.

In turn, communal service workers continued to install the New Year tree, and no conflicts occurred among them, police and rally participants.

Interestingly enough, within a stone's throw of the main square, some people did not even know what all the fuss was about. When asked to comment on the event, workers of the trade centers under the Maidan Nezaleznosti Square told ForUm people probably gathered to celebrate some holiday or prepare to the New Year festivities.

As we see, the majority of participants of the "EuroMaidan" agree that this rally as it is will not make any difference or bring any reasonable results. However, time will show what developments to expect.

Tetyana Matsur, Daryna Schwartzman, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk, Maxim Trebukhov


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