Kateryna Kruk is a a 22-year-old civil activist and political scientist based in Kyiv. On Friday, November 22, Kateryna Kruk, a former press secretary for an opposition lawmaker in Ukraine’s parliament, left work and took to the streets of Kiev, where she joined budding protests against President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an EU trade deal. Since march 2014 Kateryna is Press Secretary/Assistant to Minister at Government of Ukraine.
"In Ukraine, we are protesting to preserve our dignity"
We in Euromaidan want the world to understand that we are not here for politics or money but justice
Ukraine has just seen its third week of revolution. On the evening of 15 December, 200,000 protesters hit the streets despite freezing temperatures to demand political change, following the government's failure to sign an EU integration pact. Internationally, media interest peaked when a statue of Lenin was toppled by the people, when George Clooney sent a message of support to the people and when figures from Hayden Panettiere, the opposition leader's future sister-in-law, to Catherine Ashton and John McCain rejoiced in our streets. What I want the world to understand is that we are a peaceful revolution looking for justice, not blood.
One of the opposition leaders, whose party I used to work for as a press secretary before I quit on the first day of the protests, calls this a "revolution of dignity". There are two squares in Kiev where people have been protesting, and they are linked by one street – European Square, or Euromaidan, which has become the name of this movement, and Independence Square, which harks back to where the Orange Revolution took place in 2004, when I was 13.
The movement started from two separate rallies – students in one square, and politicians in the other. After some days the two united, deliberately without any party flags or slogans. For the week before the Vilnius summit on 21 November, at which president Viktor Yanukovych officially announced that Ukraine would not sign the long-awaited integration pact with the EU, you could hear protesters shouting: "Yanukovych, sign!" and "We are Europe!" Young people created poems, songs, pictures and flash mobs, all to illustrate how willing they were to become closer to Europe.
But since 30 November, when the protests were brutally dispersed by riot police early in the morning, the mood has completely changed. The weather has darkened, and the authorities have too, cracking down on the protesters. It is glaringly obvious that these authorities could lead us only to dictatorship, not towards Europe. But this isn't just about being pro-EU any more: Euromaidan is about changing Yanukovych and his government. And the reason is very clear and simple: we have been lied to and used in a political game for more than a year now; we have been beaten by riot police for expressing our dissatisfaction; we no longer want to be treated like cattle; we want an end to corruption. We want respect, justice and freedom. We want our dignity back.
People understand that they may be standing for a very long time, or may face many more attacks by the riot police. We are trying to do as much as we can, because we all understand that we are doing this for a better future. It is a real inspiration to see so many young people, many of whom have come from other cities and have left their universities or jobs. Here, you may see a young boy from Donbass (in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine) building barricades, or the winner of Miss Ukraine 2013 serving tea. Those who can't physically be on the square in Kiev are supporting us through social media. This became real fuel for our movement, as we have a kind of information blockade on what's happening; we use Twitter, Facebook and Vkontakte (the Russian-language Facebook) to spread information, videos and photos. So far, this has been the fastest and most credible way to share news about our life here, and to show that we are not afraid. We are ready to stand to the very end for our rights. We are not here for politics or money: we are protecting our dignity. Those are the things we want other Ukrainians to hear, and the whole world to understand.
Text source: the Guardian