Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
I hear the phrase “this is the beginning of a third Maidan” each time something tragic happens in Kyiv, when we witness clashes between police and protesters. What is clear is that those who say this simply to not understand what Maidan is. (“Maidan” — literally “square” — has come to stand for the Revolution of Dignity that took place in Ukraine in 2013-14 — Ed.).
Maidan is not a technique; it is not even a protest meeting. Maidan is infuriated people. It is not “angered city dwellers of Bolotnaya” (referring to protests on Bolotnaya square in Moscow in May 2012 against Putin’s return to the presidency — Ed.) in trendy outfits and new gadgets but an infuriated people in black coats and hats. And an idiotic government that does not believe it possible that these infuriated people are coming out on the streets of their own accord. This is why there will never be a Maidan in Russia, because although there have been, are, and will be angered city dwellers (in Moscow rather than in Russia), the infuriated people has been observed only in ancient history. And most frequently they are silent even on the stage.
And this is why there will be no Ukrainian Maidans any time soon either. Not because there are no more angered people but because there is no more idiotic government. It has all fled to Russia. Or more precisely, almost all.
Ukrainians in 2004 came out not so much for Maidan as to demonstrate for fair elections. The government discounted them, but they remained on the square. And there were more and more of them on this square. The government instead of starting a dialogue began to think about how to disperse them and how to legitimize the electoral fraud. You know what happened then. Everything ended with early elections.
In 2013 Ukrainians came out not so much for Maidan. They came out to demonstrate for the policy of Eurointegration. Many already began to plan to travel to the regions and to campaign “for Europe.” But the authorities beat them up. Because it was idiotic. And the people became enraged — and what would you do in their place? Reread Pushkin and weep? And then Lermontov, Blok, Brodsky. Oh, there is such a soaring free spirit in Russian poetry — nothing like that provincial culture of Ukraine! In short, while you were reciting poetry, Ukrainians were already assembling. And the government began to think how to disperse them. And there were more and more of them. Everything ended with the flight of Yanukovych. He probably is reading Brodsky now as well. Or Khodasevich (Russian émigré poets — Ed.). And I really do not know which one he prefers.
For Maidan to happen again it is necessary for citizens to demonstrate and for the government to pretend that they are not there and to begin to set up a Christman tree in the square while planning how to disperse the demonstrators. But the current Kyiv government has gone through two Maidans. It knows everything about techniques and about people. Twice before the government watched the people with horrified eyes from the stands of Maidan. I remember those eyes. Yanukovych could have thought that all these people came to the square directly from the US embassy. And Putin probably thinks that as well — that under the US embassy there are tunnels where 9 million Marines dressed as angry townspeople are hiding.
Poroshenko and Yatseniuk cannot think that way even if they wanted to. Naturally, there are people in Ukrainian politics that think that way. But Vladimir Putin took the electorate away from these people and placed it under lock and key in Crimea, the “DNR,” and “LNR” (Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” — Ed.). Therefore, their fantasies are of little interest to anyone now.
This is why there may be demonstrations, protests, crises, resignations. There may even be tragedies. We understand this very well. After all, isn’t it a tragedy when those who support the sovereignty of Ukraine throw a grenade at the young men who are defending the sovereignty of Ukraine? Tragedy, grief and shame.
But not Maidan.