© Submitted photo
This photo shows the state of one of the buildings in Freedom Square, Kyiv City, Ukraine, that was taken by Colin Maddock of Stephenville now living in Kyiv.
KYIV CITY, Ukraine — Colin Maddock says the fall of former Ukrainian president Victor Yanokovych’s government is like witnessing the birth of a new nation.
Maddock, the Stephenville man now living in Kyiv City, Ukraine, said in an email to The Western Star that this rebirth has been happening in the country for the last three months, but finally reached its apex last week.
He said the country of Ukraine came out of the fall of the former Soviet Union, but a nation was never formed and the people never really took ownership of it. This allowed a void where generations of repressive and thieving elites could flourish.
Now, as reported by the international media, Yanokovych’s government has fallen and the violence that has brought so much of the attention of the world on a few square kilometres of Kyiv has abated.
Maddock said the Ukrainian Parliament has begun to sit again with the support of a fair chunk of the previous ruling party — which has quickly distanced itself from the old regime — and has begun to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated on the people of Ukraine for the last four years through rampant cronyism and corruption.
He said Yulia Tymosehenko, the former prime minister and self-styled mother of the ‘Orange Revolution’ back in 2004, was released from prison and was swiftly told by the protesters and the opposition to go off to the sidelines and watch the process unfold.
Maddock said there is no stomach in the country for any return to the past.
“It is different now,” Maddock said. “The people believe their country has now been ‘paid’ for and they own it. It is an amazing sight to see, and I am personally thankful to see it unfold.”
He said police and the functionaries of the last regime disappeared from the streets on Saturday, as those that actively supported the state in the past weeks feared for their lives, expecting retribution and a revenge.
But he said the strangest thing has happened in the city, with the protesters and the police now making joint patrols of Kyiv. He has not heard of an instance of retribution or overt malice, which has not been focused on the parliamentary system or the courts.
“These are an incredible people,” Maddock said.
On Sunday, he went to church for the English language mass because he felt he needed to. To get to church, he had to walk through the ‘Maidan,’ where the majority of the fighting and deaths occurred. It looked like the battle zone that is was a few short days ago.
The Roman Catholic church is near the Maidan, and Maddock was surprised to see half of the church being used as a field hospital, where desperate fights to save so many lives occurred just days before.
The makeshift hospital was still manned by the volunteer doctors, nurses and others on Sunday, and protesters or ‘freedom fighters’ continued to arrive for treatment during the church service — mostly for stitches and treatment of wounds received last week.
“These brave men and women refuse to go home even now, and will stay until there is no chance of a return of the ‘regime’ or of the past,” Maddock wrote.
He took his family and went to the ‘Maidan’ later Sunday. His wife, Ira, is Ukrainian and told him she needed to go. Freedom Square is now a shrine to their fallen.
Maddock said it’s not exactly known how many have died or who will die of their wounds in the coming days, but it’s estimated to be around 100 people.
Freedom Square was full of people paying their respects on Sunday, and shouts of “slava Ukraini,” or “glory to Ukraine,” happen every minute. The response always is “heroyam slava,” or “glory to the heroes.”
“They are proud of their heroes, these men and women from all over Ukraine and from Russia, Armenia, Belarus as well, who without the benefit of military training or equipment, stood and died for this cause. And their sacrifice is the price paid for this nation,” he said.
Maddock said these heroes are not going anywhere, and if they need to fight again they will.
But this time, he added, there will be more of them — they are a nation now.