In Kiev's protest camp, determination strong

"Maybe it can come today."
In Kiev's protest camp, determination strong - Yahoo News

View galleryAn opposition supporter looks on as he warms himself…An opposition supporter looks on as he warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kiev's I ...
"It's like a drug," said Lolita Avetsiyan, who travels an hour from her home on Kiev's fringes every night to help out at a field kitchen.
View galleryAn opposition supporter holds a Ukrainian flag behind…An opposition supporter holds a Ukrainian flag behind a barricade near Kiev's Independence Squar ...

Kravchuk, the security guard at the first-aid station, wants to return to his hometown 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Kiev.

View galleryAn opposition supporter engraves a baton with the words…An opposition supporter engraves a baton with the words "Maidan", referring to Kiev's ...

Vitnija Saldava in Kiev contributed to this story.


The crowds started dwindling, though the square -- the center of Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004-2005 -- could still draw tens of thousands on weekends. Get married, and sleep around, so to speak," he said. one night, apparently preparing to break up the camp, there were so many demonstrators still out that they stood firm en masse and the police backed off a few hours later.
Those people, she said "they think 'she's not our class.' They think there are only stupid people here."

Yet it is as oddly comfortable as it is unsettling. What started as flimsy improvisation in the heat of the moment now has a strange air of permanence.
Their firmness in the face of discomfort and constant worry of a violent police sweep have kept the protests going longer than many expected. If we give up now, we'll be slaves for the rest of our lives."
"People here in Maidan meet more new people, make new friends, get together. "Life goes on, even here in these conditions."

The 20-something Kravchuk was one of hundreds of true believers manning the tent camp in the dead of night, both committed to keeping the anti-government protest going until their demands are met and gripped by a larger sense of belonging they can't quite articulate.
"But only when there's victory," he said, shivering. Wood stoves churn out smoke with an aroma redolent of camp-out vacations. "It's our one chance. Three demonstrators died, two of them from gunshots.
Although the protests are rooted in the same issues as when they started in December, the mood is both darker and more determined.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- The clock over Kiev's protest encampment showed 4:40 a.m. There's little live music on the square lately; often the only entertainment is old movies shown on a large screen next to the otherwise empty stage.
"I came here for a couple of days, and now it's two months," he said, his chin tucked into his thick coat's collar on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, the focal point and symbol of Ukraine's opposition protests.
Unrest, Conflicts & WarPolitics & GovernmentKiev

The violence may have scared some away and a fierce cold spell surely caused others to stay away. Maidan for her was the reason to break with an unsatisfactory former life working as a baby-sitter for wealthy people.
"Those guys who were killed, they were killed for something," Avetsiyan said. But the core protesters, the ones who work the camp during the night, found their resolve hardened.

"We go home in the morning and try to get some sleep, but you can't even sleep because you're always thinking you want to do something," she said. Despite the brutal conditions, Alexander Kravchuk laughed lightly about how he'd ended up standing guard at a first-aid point thrown together with tents and rough planks.

In the early weeks, thousands came to the square nightly for a spirited round-the-clock show of stirring political speeches, performances by the country's best rock bands that rattled windows into the wee hours and a chance to see friends, flirt and hang out. When squadrons of riot police streamed to the edge of the square about 1 a.m. Despite authorities' nominal concessions over the past week, the core protesters are unmoved.

It's a true community, said Mykhailo Havrilyuk, a protester seen in online video last week being stripped naked and abused by police in clashes.

For the committed, like Avetsiyan, it's almost as if life doesn't go on elsewhere.
And since the clashes, there's an edge to the encampment. President Viktor Yanukovych, either impatient with the demonstration's persistence or sensing that the resolve was eroding, rammed through harsh anti-protest laws in mid-January. Days later, demonstrators launched clashes with police, pelting them with firebombs and stones. Many of its denizens walk around with clubs and wear protective gear -- including one who strode around with football pads over his heavy coat -- and the demonstrators' own security detail at the tall barricades built of ice and lumber and scrap materials give long looks to everyone passing through.. and minus-19 C (minus-2 F). Volunteers circulate with trays of open-face sandwiches. Several Christmas trees, complete with lights, stand outside some of the hundred-odd tents

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