In the past, Maidan was a dwelling place of forest workers, a place where trees were felled and timber was charred. Later on it transformed into a village fairground, a yard, a location within a military camp where spoils of war were gathered and sold. In other words, the today's place of importance, a public place, a representative marketplace of sorts. The Sienkiewicz's Trilogy contains multiple descriptions of various maidans. The very term indicates great culture of the East, reminiscing Tatar raids and the history of Polish eastern outskirts.
In the consciousness of contemporary Poles Maidan in Kiev is invariably associated with the struggle of Ukraine for the new, democratic state, bringing freedom, independence of the state, self-determination, civic society, pluralism, concern for the dignity, human rights and perhaps a little prosperity.
For hundreds of years Ukraine had remained within the Polish borders and continued to shape its national consciousness. It was only in 1917 that the People's Republic of Ukraine within the USSR was formed. On its way to freedom, Ukraine has undergone a terrible hecatomb of genocide caused by the Soviets in the years 1932-1933 - the famine, in which millions of people lost their lives, while hundreds of thousands of tons of grain were exported outside Russia. As if that was not enough, incorporated into the Soviet Union, Ukraine was subjected to the whole range of ideological persecution, religious persecution, economic degradation and deprivation of national identity to the degree much higher than the satellite states like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.
Freedom visited Ukraine no sooner than in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although, formally Ukraine entered the path of democracy, it was unable to get rid of the restraining harness that communism had dressed it with. In response to the slow progress of democracy, especially in regard to observing basic human rights, tackling corruption and manual control of democracy, in the view of the deepening crisis of the Russia-dependent economy, there was an outbreak of famous protests at the Kiev Maidan, in the period from November 2004 to January 2005, during the 'Orange Revolution', when the citizens of Ukraine, a sovereign state, spoke for the first time, demanding fair elections and the necessary changes to the system of governance.
The result of the democratic elections was the new government, practicing the policy of dependence of Russia. Despite the assurances made, the government failed to sign the act of accession to the European Union that would open new prospects for the Ukrainian society and the state, and gradually liberate Ukraine from the diktat of Moscow. The Ukraine's President last-moment withdrawal from signing the declaration on 1 December 2013, sparked widespread national rebellion that transformed into the second Maidan in Kiev. The nation in which - according to opinion polls - 60% opted for opening the way for Ukraine to the European Union, has been mislead. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Kiev protested peacefully but were met with a response reminiscent of the times before 1989. Batons, kicking, tear gas used by a special unit of the Ukrainian police called Berkut (Ukrainian name for a golden eagle) - all these were applied to the harmless protesters sleeping at the Maidan. The authorities have proven that the rules of democracy are alien to them and they prefer the Soviet methods damping every civic opposition with force.
Protesters demanded resignation of the president and the government. The Supreme Council of Ukraine rejected a vote of no confidence for the government that persists and won't give up. Protesters responded by blocking government institutions. They want to regain the hope that Ukraine will join the European Union. Unfortunately, this resistance is already weakening and it won't be effective yet this time. 'What goes around comes around'. This wise proverb refers to universal experience that violence is a trap for the aggressor. They failed the day before yesterday, they failed yesterday, but they will succeed some day. We can quote our own, Polish experience, which is a confirmation of this confidence that society cannot be kept on a leash.
We should help our Ukrainian neighbours, 'cause we also had support when we were on the streets, fighting for bread and freedom. Maidan in Kiev, know as the Independence Maidan, must also become the Maidan of Victory and Freedom - also this civic freedom, freedom open not only to Europe but the whole world.
Author: Bp Tadeusz Pieronek / pr-controlled.com ©
Illustration: Judyta Papp