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Майдан Незалежності 06/10/2010

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Maydan Nezalezhnosti

Grown men were reduced by the sweltering summer sun to frolic in fountains. Laughter transformed a blinding stretch of concrete into a festive vacation spot where everyone fought to keep ice-cream from melting around their fingers. Teenagers soaked one another with bottles of water. Photographers jostled for prospective clients who seemed satisfied with their cheap digital cameras and cell phones. An enterprising couple had dragged a Cinderella coach into the plaza and donned period costume, risking heatstroke to pose for pictures.

Six years ago Maidan Nezalezhnosti was the epicenter of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. Opposition parties campaigning against the oligarchs and their political cronies mustered popular support after widespread election fraud knocked Viktor Yushchenko from the running. Disaffected citizenry camped under November snows and lay siege to government buildings throughout Kyiv. The military refused to intervene, Parliament annulled the election, and opposition took power amidst a series of constitutional reforms.

Today Viktor Yanukovych, scion of Ukraine’s systemic criminals, has returned to office. The man once implicated in the poisoning of Yushchenko has been embraced by a country growing more conservative under a faltering economy and pressure from Russia. On October 1st Yulia Tymoshenko, another pillar of the Orange Revolution and strong contender for world’s most beautiful statesperson, condemned court decisions to roll back reforms introduced in 2004.

Not Communist

Crumbling democracy did not interfere with people playing in fountains. Janice and I sought solace beneath the drifting spray before descending on the glass curvature of a Soviet relic which cut the square’s edge like a knife. Inside the air-conditioned tomb we rode empty escalators to walk past jewelry and high-fashion, avoiding the attention of underwhelmed but armed security. At the subterranean food court we confounded a poor counter-jockey with our very poor grasp on language.

Back outside we sipped expensive espressos in the shadow of Berehynia, folkloric mother-goddess who displaced Lenin. Boys lined the mall’s rooftop promenade, calling down to passing girls. The towering sheet of glass conveys an imposing austerity lacking in Oscar Niemeyer’s Parisian Communist Headquarters.

Yet I was mistaken, it has nothing to do with Soviet regimes. The plaza now known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti has shifted and mutated according to the whims of history. Kyiv was plots of mud this far east until Russia’s industrial revolution sparked a population explosion. The city’s Duma was erected across Khreschatyk, its location now held by the original Archangel Michael statue which once crested the spire.

Maydan Nezalezhnosti

World War II permanently altered the neighborhood. Retreating troops rigged the Duma and surrounding buildings with explosives left for the German advance. During the post-war years Stalinist architecture redefined style and fountains began to grace the square itself. Kyiv’s mayor ordered massive reconstruction to prevent the gathering of anti-government protesters, modernizing the plaza just in time for the Orange Revolution three years later.

We climbed to the mall’s roof and watched people playing in fountains. Traffic filled the broad boulevards and metro commuters disappeared into the maze of underground tunnels. Across the length of Maidan Nezalezhnosti sat grand office and apartment buildings wearing commercial headdresses for beer, hotels and a sign that looked suspiciously like nuclear cooling towers. Over a pedestrian overpass Jesus hung from a cross below a neo-classical palace.



1. Knifemouth - 30/10/2010

“Over a pedestrian overpass Jesus hung from a cross below a neo-classical palace.” -and no picture? *sigh

In America there should be much like this – but one example: in effigy akin to ubiquitous Jesus stature and pose, one can envision rather easily a Jesse Helms tacked up and dangling over freeway overpasses throughout the State of North Carolina -as he died for their Sins. No?

Thank you for the wonderful architecture link… it seems that maybe the building in your plaza simply stood up, buffed itself up and fixed itself in posture- not too much more than that… I wonder at Niemeyer – and I wonder if you are no fan of Communism, for I make no assumptions that I can avoid, especially as I have not been able to read every blog entry as I am overtaken.

My take seems to be that philosophies and theologies make lousy governments to be sure- and I wonder deeply (even as I adore my heart’s Jewel: Paris, how deeply flawed- even so) —

Is there a working government/ruling system on this sick planet that anyone can point to and say: “Here, this one I truly believe in and briefly as can: Why…” for here in America, all of it’s ‘comparative ease’ set aside- hard as that may be, it seems lately the Red stands for rage/hate/blood, the Blue perhaps ice that runs through the veins of many of late/the White for the shrinking base of Caucasians -especially the ones with the billions who buy with lies the minds and the rage of those who abhor that old melting pot- and do not see it is these very people who hold the leash of their poverty with any clarity whatsoever… No, I cannot point to so-called Capitalism. It has become theory as much as many others.

But I am not an educated, world traveled person: in short I am just one alone (in now a fourth year of deepest isolation) who is hated on the soil of my birth and lives a life of downward spiral of chronic illness that has no abatement without great resources that never shall surface, and an ever-fracturing mind of despair and well earned -confusion? So I only speak my not small, but not strong mind from a corner of the world where my back is to the wall and with humility seek the thoughts and knowledge of others as I bide my time -as there is no escape for me in this world -no refuge at home or abroad – and I can only hope the best for the ones I respect.

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