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From Maidan the Camp to Maidan the Sich: What Changed?

From Maidan the Camp to Maidan the Sich: What Changed?
Article by: Yuriy Lukanov
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Edited by: A. N.

On 3 February 2014, the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), with funding from the International Renaissance Foundation, jointly conducted an opinion survey at Maidan. A total of 502 persons were polled at every stationary location at Maidan, including tents, the Trade Unions Building, Kyiv City Administration, Ukrainian House, and others. The sampling aimed to provide a proportional representation of the Maidan protesters.

This is the third such survey taken at Maidan. The first was carried out by DIF and KIIS over the weekend of 7-8 December 2013. A total of 1037 persons selected as a random sample were polled: 375 on 7 December and 662 on 8 December. At that time, Maidan was only a crowded protest. The second survey was conducted on 20 December 2013, and captured the next phase of Maidan: the camp. The sample was representative of all of Maidan’s stationary locations.

A month and a half has passed since then, during which Maidan saw violent clashes between protesters and authorities, beatings, repressions, and disappearances. The adoption of the notorious anti-protest laws on 16 January brought the first truly bloody battles on Hrushevskoho Street and the first casualties. Maidan’s appearance has changed dramatically: numerous new barricades have gone up as it becomes more closed and tense in anticipation of renewed attacks. Maidan the Camp has turned into Maidan the Sich [a reference to Cossack-era quasi-sovereign military polity—Euromaidanpr].

How did Maidan’s population and socio-political structure change in that time? How do the changed views and demands reflect the more militarized nature of the people? These are some of the questions the survey sought to answer.

What are the similarities and differences between two stages of Maidan as an encampment, between Maidan the Camp and Maidan the Sich?

  • As with Maidan the Camp, Maidan the Sich is comprised mostly of men; their share of the total population increased to 88%.  A Maidan occupant is on average about 37 years old. Those aged 18-29 comprise 33%; those aged 30-54, 56%; and those aged 55 and older, 12%. The number of respondents with university degrees decreased slightly from 49% to 43%. However, this number is still above the national average. Of those without university degrees, 43% have a secondary or technical education, 9.5% have an unfinished higher education, and 4% have a lower secondary education.

  • In terms of occupation, specialists with higher education still comprise the largest share at 27%, up from 22% in December. The share of businessmen increased from 12% to 17%.  Blue collar workers remain at 15%. But the number of students and retirees decreased somewhat: from 10% to 6% and from 11% to 7% respectively. There are also executives (4%), police and military service workers (3%), civil servants (4%), and agricultural workers and farmers (3%). Of course, there also those who are officially unemployed (13%, of which 4.5% have part-time jobs and 7.5% have no source of income).

  • Non-residents of Kyiv still form the majority of Maidan the Sich, up from 81% to 88%. Kyiv natives make up 12%. Among the visitors, people from Western Ukraine prevail at 55% (previously 42%). Of the remainder, 24% hail from Central Ukraine, and 21% hail from the East and South. There has been a significant shift, however, in the type of locations where the protesters originate. The number of protesters coming from big cities decreased from 23% to 17%. Those coming from oblast centers comprise 20%, down from 32%. Small towns boosted their showing from 23% to 42%. Villagers comprise 20% of Maidan occupants.

  • In terms of language, the number of Ukrainian speakers has increased slightly from 52% to 59%, while the number of Russian speakers decreased from 20% to 16% and bilingual speakers decreased from 28% to 24%.

  • Among the current Maidan the Sich inhabitants, the number of people brought in by political parties has decreased significantly from 12% to 3%. NGOs and social movements account for 13% of protesters. The remaining 83.5% arrived at Maidan independently. Members of political parties have also decreased from 15% to 8%, while members of civic organizations stayed the same at 8%. There has been a strong growth in people involved in social movements, from 6% to 14%. This may be due to new movements cropping up right on Maidan. However, 70% of those surveyed claim no political party or coalition affiliation.

  • The motives compelling people to come to Maidan and set camp remain unchanged. Harsh crackdowns on protesters still hold first place, at 61%. The general desire to “change life in Ukraine” has reached second place at 51%, up from 36%. President Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU Association Agreement and endeavors to change power in Ukraine are both at 47%. Only 3% support the opposition’s plan of action, while the number of people who want revenge for the government’s crackdowns is, as before, 10%. Another important motivation for the protest is the fear that Ukraine could join the Customs Union and move politically closer to Russia; the number of protesters citing that as their own motive increased significantly from 14% in December to 20%.

  • The main demands of the protesters have become more clearly defined. The primary demand—the resignation of President Yanukovych and snap presidential elections—is at 85%, a 20% increase. Secondary demands include the resignation of the government (68%), criminal proceedings against those responsible for the beating of the protesters (64%), dismissal of Verkhovna Rada and snap parliamentary elections (59%), a return to the 2004 Constitution and restriction of the president’s powers (62.5%), criminal proceedings against people involved in corruption (62%), signing the EU Association Agreement (49%), and Yulia Timoshenko’s release (30%).

  • The respondents were asked to define three main minimum demands which, if met, could make for an acceptable compromise with the authorities. Two demands have undoubtedly proven the most important. These are president’s resignation and snap presidential elections (68%, a 36% increase), and dismissal of the arrested protesters and the end of repressions (51%, a 20% increase). The rest of the demands are less significant in comparison.

  • Today, Maidan’s participants are definitely less inclined to negotiate with the authorities. Only a month and a half ago, their voices were split: 45% favored negotiations and 47% were against them. Now only 27% accept negotiations with the authorities as a solution, while 63% reject it.

  • The recently adopted amnesty law has also received a negative reception. Only 4% say they are ready to leave administrative buildings and unblock Hrushevskoho Street in order to precipitate the release of arrested activists. Of those who are unwilling to capitulate, 83% believe the authorities should free unconditionally those who were arrested, and call for their immediate release.

  • Only 1% of the protesters approve of the offer of government leadership positions to the opposition leaders. Another 6% believe it could be acceptable only if the new government were composed exclusively of the opposition members, and 22% mention the return to the 2004 Constitution and strengthening the roles of the prime minister and cabinet. However, the majority of respondents (62%) believe that the opposition should refuse any participation in the government while Yanukovych remains president.

  • Only 17% believe that Yanukovych should be granted personal immunity in exchange for his agreement to hold early presidential elections. “No guarantees!” say 78%.

  • The overwhelming majority of Maidan’s participants (86%) are still ready to be there “as long as necessary.” Of those, 73% joined Maidan last year and another 24% took part in the protests from the very beginning (21-30 November). Those who say they will stop the protest and leave Maidan only when Maidan’s demands are fully met jumped from 64% to 83%. Another 12%, down from 25%, might be satisfied with the fulfilment of the primary demands, and only 1% believe that at least something should be done.

  • The number of protesters prepared to participate in radical actions has grown remarkably during the last month and a half. The number of those willing to boycott and refuse to abide by the decisions of the authorities has risen from 31% to 40%. A sneaky 45% are prepared to attend unauthorized meetings and demonstrations, up from 28%; and 47% are willing to strike, up from 32%. The number of those prepared to seize government buildings has risen dramatically from 19% to 41%; and 50%, up from 31%, are prepared to form military units independent of the government.

This latest survey revealed that, by implementing repressive laws, the authorities succeeded in radicalizing Maidan and turning Maidan the Camp into Maidan the Sich. Resignation of the president and snap presidential elections are now the main demands of Maidan. This is obviously the last compromise Yanukoych can afford to offer, given that he is the only negotiator who actually makes decisions. Maidan will not be satisfied with an oppositional government under President Yanukovych’s control; it has generally turned against any compromises.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the opposition, which is responsible for the negotiations, does not control Maidan. Maidan has grown spontaneously in many ways and has not yet adopted a clear vertical structure. The protesters are determined to stand their ground until the end. Most of them have withstood harsh weather conditions since joining Maidan last year. This makes it very unlikely that Maidan will somehow melt away by itself. Efforts to disperse it by force would likely meet an aggressive pushback.


Translated by Irina Korostyshina

Edited by Mariana Budjeryn and Robin Rohrback

Source: Від Майдану-табору до Майдану-січі: що змінилося?

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Edited by: A. N.
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