Safe in Kyiv

The United States Department of State has increased the security alert for Odessa and it is now on the same level as Kharkiv. A local British expat blogger who has lived in Odessa for a decade predicted there might be a demonstration between 6 August and 15 August and it would happen within the same week as events in the east and thus would be coordinated  as to show the Ukrainian government and the West that they cannot a) cannot be everywhere at once, and b) can demonstrate just “because they can.”

   Despite the looming threat of an upcoming military draft, both Odessa and Kyiv seemed relatively calm considering. People ate out, strolled down the streets and carried on as usual. But what can you do? These cities have running water and electricity unlike Lugiansk right now. The UN has called the humanitarian situation in Ukraine’s east as worsening dramatically.

Meanwhile, drunks and drug addicts are conscripted in the east as a form of “punishment brigades.” The Guardian has an article suggesting that there are “increased mutterings for a new Maidan.” I wonder who Mr. Walker talked to but in the people I’ve chatted with on the train, street and around town, yes there is a weariness but I doubt there will be another Maidan. Several locals are even getting tired of Poroshenko. The local Odessa expat blogger said that while he is one who says what he means, and is passionate, the question of whether he can deliver what he promises is another. For example, there is hope that the war will be over by 24 August, Ukrainian Independence Day and Donetsk will be liberated. But realistically, whether that may seen to be true is whole other ballgame.

Another question that may be raised in the future is what will happen to the Maidan where EuroMaidan took place? Right now, it serves as a tourist attraction/open-air museum/homage to Euromaidan/memorial site and open market for related souvenirs. It is a museum in this respect but when the conflict calms down, will the local city government establish a museum devoted to Euromaidan and use parts of what is currently on display? The sponsors  of some of the photo exhibits are the Fulbright Foundation and the Ukrainian Women’s Fund.

Now the Maidan looks like this:





I found this one eerie in an ironic way:


Note the Mothercare shop (part of a three-story mall) surrounded by the wreckage of Euromaidan and the wall of tires on the left. One could interpret this as a motif that motherhood is a battlefield, as is life.

And some people refuse to let the conflict get in their way of pursuing love. I met a couple at the hostel where I stayed last night. The man appears to be in his late 20’s/early 30’s and is an American from Chicago-area. He had long dark hair, was quite slim and seemed like a free-spirited soul one would meet at a yoga retreat. His bride-to-be was a Ukrainian lady in her mid to late 30’s from Lugiansk region and they were planning on going back to the east to wait until they could get married. When I asked if they had plans to stay in Ukraine or America, the guy, named Ryan answered that for now they’re staying in Ukraine because he doesn’t want his wife to be a foreigner just yet. They had been dating for 11 years and the premises of how they met was “a long story.” His wife spoke very little English but understood a little bit. His Russian was maybe half a level better. And yet, despite that, the two did not seem to have any problems communicate.  Body language and speaking a kindergarten level of each other’s language was more than enough for them. Love was the answer. When the lady, Natalia learned that I was American, her eyes lit up and she responded that her “muzhh” or “man” was also American and insisted that I meet him. The way her eyes sparkled and her pride of her enduring decade-long partnership was impressive. They didn’t seem to like Kyiv all too much and are returning to Lugiansk any day now. 

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