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February 22 2014

February 20 2014

February 19 2014

February 07 2014

Meet the Hard-Working Ukrainians Helping to Keep #Euromaidan Alive

Ukraine's Euromaidan protests are protected by multi-level barricades built from sacks filled with snow. Photo from zyalt.livejournal.com, used with permission

The task of changing what hundreds of thousands of citizens in Ukraine find to be a corrupt, authoritarian regime into a country where a simple, comfortable life is possible for everyone is one that has daunted Ukrainians for many years, but especially so during the years of current President Viktor Yanukovych. Those that oppose the government face persecution – any excuse for a jail sentence. Among the first and most public examples is the imprisonment of his political rival and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

But there is power in numbers. In just over two months, the ongoing anti-government Euromaidan protests pushing back against Yanukovych and other corrupt leaders have evolved into a full-fledged, self-financed organization – a self-organized government of its own. Ilya Varlamov, a blogger from Ukraine, describes how the movement is run in what he calls a Virtual tour of Maidan:

It has its own army, storehouses with weapons (glass bottles, sticks, stones) and food, it has its own internal press, stores, and, of course, Maidan protects its own boundaries very well. All the approaches are reliably protected from assault by high barricades.  

While standing up to the regime as an individual seldom makes a difference, Ukrainians now know that standing up as a group does. kraplya.com, a project that has grown out of the Euromaidan movement, takes a look at that very aspect of the protests (kraplya means “drop” in Ukrainian).The project's official website makes it clear: “Alone, we are just drops; together, we are an ocean.”

The people who gather on the streets to protest each day are the drops from all over Ukraine that have made this ocean, now visible to the world, possible. Some have been living in the streets by choice for more than two months. Some come to join them after work or other daily errands. Artist Oleksandr Komyakhov has drawn portraits of some of them.

Sister of mercy

Drawing of woman carrying bags full of medicine to Maidan. Drawing by Oleksandr Komyakhov, used with permission.

In her hands she carries bags full of medicine. The woman represents the many people who have brought the movement much-needed medical supplies. The Berkut special riot police often break ribs, bones and leave other injuries, while activists living in the frozen streets, and some of them for months now, at times need treatment.

The Euromaidan SOS Facebook page publishes hourly updates on the needs of Euromaidan protesters. The medicine brought to the protests is sorted by hundreds of volunteers every day. The Maidaners organized their own hospital and equipped it well enough to function and serve at a regional level, crowdfunding even defibrillators and other surgical equipment. They have a real need for such equipment as activists are being kidnapped from official hospitals by police forces, so protesters have decided it’s best not to show up there.

Wealthy terrorist

Not long ago, now former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov made a statement referring to the protesters at Euromaidan as “terrorists”.

Man bringing tires and fuel to the frontline. Drawing by Oleksandr Komyakhov, used with permission

In a story told by Andriy Priymachenko, the man on the right is is the sarcastically dubbed “wealthy terrorist”. He brings tires in his expensive car to the boys at the “frontline” between the protesters and the Berkut militia:

January 22. Around 23:00.

A white off-road Lexus is parking in the middle of the European square. The driver, a 50 year-old man, goes to the back of the car and searches for boys going to the frontline in the crowd.

- Guys, give me a hand!

A group of boys in masks immediately run up to him. All have helmets on their heads. The Lexuses [sic] owner takes his expensive leather gloves off, opens the trunk, and unloads tires. The boys ask no extra questions, take the tires and start carrying them in the direction of the frontline. Finally the driver takes a dark-green canister with fuel out of the trunk.

- This goes also there. Well, you’ll figure it out.

Berkut snipers have killed several protesters so far. A smoke curtain created by burning tires, put up by Euromaidan protesters, seems to have put an end to that. Thousands of tires, brought by thousands of cars, driven by thousands of people.

Other items that Maidan is constantly in need of come in the same way: clothes, food, firewood, computers, blankets, sleeping bags, helmets, gas masks, protective gear, even books for the library that has now been organised for the protester's needs.

firewood

Women bringing firewood via Metro. Photo by Lesya Petrunyak, used with permission

Recently, police cut off access for large trucks carrying firewood to Maidan, but the little drops that are the protesters bring them to the main protest site on the subway.

Auntie Valya

One of Euromaidan's participants, Auntie Valya. Drawing by Oleksandr Komyakhov, used with permission

Speaking of such “terrorists”, they seem to come in all ages – and police forces don't seem to discriminate. Twitter user bruce springnote tweeted the apparent mishandling of this elderly Euromaidan protester:

When Daryna Shevchenko saw the evening news, she wrote on Facebook:

This is my neighbor auntie Valya. Yesterday she was shot with a rubber bullet in her leg, but she came again. And today, when the berkuters were “killing a 86-year-old grandfather”, filming their “amusement” and heehawing, she fell to her knees and asked them to stop or at least to kill her instead of him. They did that, but, thanks to God, did not kill her. Beat her ribs with sticks and heehawed again and were very interested “So it’s not enough for you, bitch!??” “

The Gammy

gammy

One of Euromaidan's participants, the Gammy. Drawing by Oleksandr Komyakhov, used with permission

Maidan's drops come in all sizes, varieties, and physical abilities.

Some protesters with disabilities have abandoned their crutches and taken sticks in their hands, while people in wheelchairs are busy clearing snow. People with other disabilities, such as blind people serving sandwiches, have also been of help to the movement.

The Ant

ant

One of Euromaidan's participants, “The Ant”. Drawing by Oleksandr Komyakhov, used with permission

Snow is a valuable resource. It is shoveled into sacks, carried by many hands over to the barricades, where the sacks are stacked like enormous bricks, then poured over with water, making a frozen wall that is almost impossible to pass.

Moscow deputy bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and Maidan correspondent James Marson tweeted his observation:

Water cements the stacks and makes a solid wall up to 4-5 meters in height. Thus, Maidan is circled by a defensive wall like a medieval city and well protected. The wall prevent attacks from the Berkut forces who are constantly expected to come armed with water cannons, tear gas, clubs, and shields.

Artist Oleksandr Komyakhov is regularly updating his collection of portraits of drops that make up Euromaidan. His full gallery of Euromaidan participants can be viewed on his Facebook page.

January 27 2014

Ukrainian #DigitalMaidan Activism Takes Twitter's Trending Topics by Storm

Screenshot of  digitalmaidan.com website.

Screenshot of the digitalmaidan.com website.

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

For the first time ever, a Ukraine-related hashtag topped Twitter's worldwide trending topics, holding its number one position on the social network most of the day on January 27, 2014.

An activist initiative dubbed #DigitalMaidan Twitter Storm called upon Twitter users to post tweets in massive numbers to show support for Euromaidan anti-government protesters in Ukraine. The mass tweeting with the hashtag #digitalmaidan began at 10 a.m. EST (5 p.m. in Kyiv) and was coordinated by social media users from the Ukrainian diaspora in the West and other activists.

Screenshot from Twitter.com, January 27, 2014.

Screenshot from Twitter, January 27, 2014.

The Public Diplomat, a blog based in Syracuse, New York that aims to explain public diplomacy by providing insight into “ideas, research and events that catalyze the engaging of different cultures” tweeted:

The Facebook event page used to gather supporters for the #DigitalMaidan Twitter Storm explained:

Have you been a part of a Twitter storm before? If not, here's how they work: A Twitter storm is when people, at a specific time, bombard twitter with the same hashtag. Just before the Twitter storm starts, a google page of around 80 pre-made tweets will be shared here on this event page. The pre-made tweets target TV stations, newspapers, officials, celebrities. There will be a separate one for Canada that excludes members of Congress. By all of us tweeting the same 80 messages with the same hashtag at various media and VIPs, we can get our message trending.

During the hour of the Twitter Storm, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST, a mass amount of Twitter users tweeted the prepared tweets from the #DigitalMaidan page, as well as their own messages and calls for help to the international community, public figures and celebrities, to raising awareness and support the people of Ukraine's Euromaidan protests, which have endured for two months now.

Watcher.com.ua estimates there was an average of five to six tweets per minute that included the hashtag.

Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem joined the effort:

Let's get the hashtags #euromaidan #Ukraine #digitalmaidan into world trends!

The Civic Sector of Euromaidan also tweeted about the Twitter storm:

Getting ready for the Twitter storm http://t.co/qPYOHljwgr #euromaidan #євромайдан #maidango #Ukraine. This will work.

According to statistics from Topsy, over 60,000 #digitalmaidan tweets were published during the hour of the Twitter Storm, which continued with further tweets and retweets throughout the day.

Screenshot showing number of tweets and user sentiment from Topsy.com, January 27, 2014.

Screenshot showing number of tweets and user sentiment from Topsy.com, January 27, 2014.

Twitter user Kinoyurch summed up the intentions of the effort's participants in this tweet:

Not all Twitter users in Ukraine took to the flashmob with enthusiasm. A parody Twitter account for the former head of Presidential Administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin, was more than skeptical about the effect of the Twitter storm:

Seeing the number of tweets with #euromaidan #Ukraine #digitalmaidan hashtags, PR [Party of Regions] is shaking with fear.

Below is a screen capture of #digitalmaidan Twitter Storm tweets captured in real time on Twitterfall.com by Global Voices author Tanya Lokot and posted on Vimeo:

Recently, TwitterData posted an interactive visualization in the form of a map of how #euromaidan tweets have been spreading around the world during the key days of the protests:

Over the past several days, there have been rumors that authorities may decide to shut down Internet and mobile networks in another attempt to quell the protests that have been growing for over 10 weeks now. Whether or not that happens, Internet tools and social networks are an intricate and important part of the protests, in particular in seeking support and explaining the protests to the international community.

January 26 2014

Netizen Maps Spreading Unrest After Protesters are Killed in Ukraine

On January 22, 2014, during a fourth consecutive day of violent clashes between Euromaidan protesters in Kyiv and police, two protesters were reported dead with the death toll rising to at least five in the past several days. After this news, mass anti-government protests erupted in several regions of Ukraine and began to spread quickly through the country.

The protesters demand the resignation of the local and national government and the President, sometimes also calling for a ban on the ruling Party of Regions and the Communist party, which has been supportive of President Yanukovych. The process has begun in Western Ukraine, where the protesters took over regional state administration buildings, in some cases forcing local governors to resign [uk] and announcing the creation of an alternative government.

The new governments have already been set up in Lviv, Ternopil and Volyn regions. In Rivne, the city policemen have resigned en masse [uk] thus refusing to take action against the protesters. From the Western regions the unrest quickly spread to Central and Southern Ukraine.

With many conflicting reports coming from the regions, a Kyiv-based journalist Sergii Gorbachov has begun creating maps that show the latest developments and publishing them on his Facebook page. He bases his conclusions on media reports as well as comments and updates from other social media users.

The maps demonstrate that in just four days, the protests have spread from five to twenty three regions [ru, uk, en], which undermines a popular misconception about the existence of “very strong” regional divide in Ukraine.

A map of political situation in Ukraine's regions as of 3:50 pm, January 26, 2013.  Created by Sergii Gorbachov

A map of political situation in Ukraine's regions as of 3:50 pm, January 26, 2013. Created by Sergii Gorbachov

As of January 26, the maps also reflect in which regions local authorities have recognized alternative governments created by the protesters.

Independent Ukrainian Filmmakers Create #Euromaidan Documentaries

In Ukraine, several filmmakers united to produce a video chronology of the events that came to be known as the Euromaidan protests. “BABYLON'13″, named after a bar in which the filmmakers came up with the idea for the project, is a collection of short documentaries reflecting the development of the mass protests and particular incidents during the rallies.

A screenshot from one of the short documentaries about #EuroMaidan on YouTube.

A screenshot from one of the short documentaries about #EuroMaidan on YouTube.

The films are available on the project's Facebook page “Babylon'13″ and YouTube channel “BABYLON'13″ with English subtitles.

January 18 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: The New Anti-Democratic Laws of Ukraine

On January 16, 2014, Ukrainian Parliament adopted a series of bills with a severe violation of the voting procedure. Nevertheless, on the eve of the same day the bills were signed into law by President Yanukovych.

Below is an infographic by civic movement CHESNO [uk, en] outlining the major legislative initiatives valid as of January 17, 2014.

dictatorship-en

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 17 2014

Ukraine Stifles Freedom of Speech, Peaceful Protest With New Law

An anonymous image circulated online. The inscription reads [ru]:

An anonymous image circulated online. The inscription reads [ru]: “Now EVERYTHING is prohibited”

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

On the 57th day of Ukraine's massive pro-European, anti-government protests, the country's parliament passed a law that limits freedom of assembly, restricts the country's media and clamps down on freedom of expression.

Law No. 3879 [uk] introduces a variety of legal changes “for protecting the security of citizens.” Members passed the legislation during the parliament's first session of the new year on January 16, 2014. 

The law comes as thousands of protesters continue to fill a central square in Kiev. The Euromaidan protests, as they have been dubbed, began as peaceful pro-EU rallies but turned into a large-scale anti-government movement after police unleashed an aggressive crackdown against demonstrators – a handful of brutal beatings by police have been captured on film.

NGO Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group called the new law repressive, citing its key issues:

A draft law “passed” in full by the ruling majority in parliament on Jan 16 criminalizes libel, labels and restricts civic associations receiving foreign grants as “foreign agents” and imposes and substantially increases liability for any forms of protest. If the draft bill is signed by the parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak and president, Viktor Yanukovych, it will set Ukraine’s democracy back by years.

Maksym Savanevsky of Watcher.com.ua noted that these and other measures, such as making it mandatory for citizens to show their passports to buy even a prepaid mobile SIM card, amount to a rise in censorship [uk] of journalists and Internet users’ expression, as well as increased control and surveillance over telecommunications systems and social media websites, under the guise of fighting extremism and violent uprisings:

Сьогодні більшість у Верховній Раді прийняла закон, яким фактично вводиться цензура в інтернеті.

Today the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament] majority adopted a law which basically introduces censorship on the Internet.

Lawyer Dmytro Nazarets posted a few express analysis posts [ru] mentioning a new requirement that all Internet news sites and news agencies are now obligated to register with the authorities:

Теперь уже новости на сайте не попишешь без надзора и регистрации

No more writing and posting news on your website without oversight and registration

Journalist Mustafa Nayyem pointed out [ru] on Facebook the viciousness with which the law’s authors dealt with social media:

Social media denounced by the explanatory note to the controversial draft law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament. The authors insist social media are used as a tool to spread these ideas and fuel hostility, where calls to violently change power and constitution are becoming more and more frequent.

Rachel Denber, the Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia division for Human Rights Watch, succinctly summed up numerous comparisons with Russia:

Budget vote brawl

The parliament also voted on the year's state budget on the same day. The budget has been highly controversial with the opposition criticizing [uk] it for multiple flaws, including a drastic increase in funding for law enforcement agencies at the expense of such items as healthcare. Opposition MPs had pledged to block parliament and prevent voting at all costs. At first, things seemed to progress according to their plan.

However, the opposition quickly lost control, with the pro-government majority voting in support of the budget and bypassing regular voting procedure.

Editor of an English-language Kyiv-based publication, the Kyiv Post, Christopher Miller tweeted:

A brawl during the parliament session followed, with the opposition physically trying to prevent their rivals from using the electronic voting system. However, the pro-presidential majority quickly retreated and continued voting by a raise of hands.

A screenshot of the live broadcast from the Ukrainian Parliament. Pro-Presidential majority adopts the laws by raising hands. January 16, 2014.

A screenshot of the live broadcast from the Ukrainian parliament. The pro-presidential majority adopts the laws by raising hands. January 16, 2014.

Opposition MP Andriy Shevchenko commented [uk] on the violations of voting procedure:

While the whole country is watching, the seventh Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada [parliament] is ceasing to exist. What a f*cking shame… #Рада7

Roman Shrayk, an independent journalist and author of the satirical Durdom Portal, called the parliamentary vote on the bills itself a sham, posting a video [ru] of the vote on his blog for Ukrainska Pravda:

20 минут, которые уничтожили остатки украинской демократии

20 minutes that destroyed the remnants of Ukrainian democracy

“The day democracy died”

Later in the day, President Viktor Yanukovych signed all five laws, including the openly anti-protest law no. 3879, sparking outrage in the Ukrainian online community.

Kyiv-based Anglophone blogger Taras Revunets tweeted:

Twitter user Igor Shevchenko went even further in his comparisons [uk]:

Now we are North Korea. And we have our own Vik Fed Yan [Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych]

Yet many other social media users have ridiculed the new measures, pointing out their absurdity.

The civic movement “Chesno” posted the following photo, noting [ru] that it depicts something already “fobidden” by the new law:

Civic movement

Civic movement “Chesno” depicting an activity technically illegal under new legislation. Photo by Hanna Hrabarska. Used with permission.

Тем временем, вот мы – иностранные агенты, офис движения ЧЕСТНО, группа больше пяти лиц, В МАСКАХ!

In the meantime, here we are – foreign agents, office of the CHESNO movement, a group of more than five, wearing MASKS!

This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.

Tetyana Bohdanova (listed as the author) and Tetyana Lokot co-authored this post.

January 12 2014

New DDoS Attacks on Websites Monitoring Ukrainian #Euromaidan Protests

Vasyl Pawlowsky, an independent consultant and English-language curator of Maidan Monitoring, a website set up and maintained specifically for following events and news from Euromaidan protests in several cities throughout Ukraine, reports in a blog post that the crowdsourced site is not available due to a DDoS attack, allegedly organized by authorities wanting to stop such information flow regarding the protests.

Pawlowsky also tells of a recent two-day meeting in Karkhiv, dubbed the All-Ukrainian Euromaidan Forum, held by Euromaidan organizers to coordinate activities of the several protest locations throughout the country, but mentions the lack of structure in this coordination:

Форум закінчився . Через годину їдемо на Київ-Львів . Коротенько про головне . Жодної , наголошую ЖОДНОЇ !!! надструктури не було створено ( це принципово ) В Харкові зібралися представники Євромайданів для аналізу ситуації в Україні . Розробили питання безпеки ,координації, комунікації Майданів . Працюємо далі . Слава Харкову ! Слава Україні !

The Forum is over. In an hour we are driving form Kyiv-Lviv. Shortly about the most important. No, and I emphasize NO!!! overseeing structure was created (in principle). In Kharkiv the representives of the Euromaidans to analyze the situation in Ukraine. To develop matters of security, coordination and communication of the Maidans. We continue our work. Glory to Kharkiv! Glory to Ukraine!

December 29 2013

Ukrainian Protesters Play Lennon's “Imagine” Live to Riot Police

On December 18, 2013, American musician and composer Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono) shared a photo on his Facebook wall, depicting a pianist playing John Lennon's famous song “Imagine” to the rows of Ukrainian riot police. In a week, the photo has gathered over 16,900 likes and has been shared over 6,100 times.

A screenshot of Sean Lennon's Facebook Mobile uploads. The photo depicts a man playing

A screenshot of Sean Lennon's Facebook Mobile uploads picture. The photo depicts a man playing “Imagine” in front of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The artistic action that took place in Kyiv, Ukraine, during ongoing EuroMaidan rallies. It was conceptualised and implemented by non-partisan activists of the group called Euromaidan's Civic Sector [uk].

December 26 2013

Ukraine: Netizens Demand Justice for #Euromaidan Participants

The Euromaidan protests in Ukraine have entered their second month, with several hudred thousand protesters gathering in Kyiv and other cities daily. The movement began as a pro-EU demonstration mostly by young people in response to a halted Ukraine-EU agreement that would bring Ukraine significantly closer to the European Union. After the brutal beating of students and other protesters by the riot police division known as “Berkut” on the early morning of November 30, 2013, the daily rallies turned into a nation-wide anti-government protest.

Following separate cases of violence during a mass rally in Kyiv on December 1, more protesters were beaten by “Berkut” , including at least forty journalists.

A series of detentions and arrests followed. Nine seemingly random protesters were detained on the day of this particular rally, severely beaten by the police and later charged with plotting and organizing mass riots despite the almost complete absence of evidence corroborating the charges. Three more people were arrested shortly afterwards on the same charges – two journalist activists from “Dorozhnyi Control” (Road Control) initiative and a photographer from the Ukrainian city of Lviv, who took pictures of the police brutality incidents on November 30.

Helping Bankova prisoners and other victims of repressions

These people became known as the “Bankova prisoners”, named so after Bankova street near the Presidential Administration building, where the clashes with police took place on December 1, 2013. Their cases have been highly publicized and, following appeals by local and international journalists, MPs and diplomats, and mass rallies in defense of the prisoners, reportedly three of the detainees were found guilty and fined, five were released with trials pending, and three remain jailed for a two-month term under further investigation.

The video [uk] below shows a “lying picket” under the Ukrainian Public Prosecutor's Office initiated by the Democratic Alliance. Activists lie on the steps of the building forcing employees to literally step over them, just like they “step over the law”. The protesters shout “Shame on you! Shame on you!” [uk].

To support these and other activists repressed for participating in Euromaidan, Ukrainian netizens have set up a Facebook page [uk] and a special website [uk, en] dedicated to aiding the Bankova prisoners.

A screenshot of a Facebook page dedicated to Bankova prisoners. The caption reads: “Euromainad: Help guys who are being [wrongfully accused] of attack on Bankova” [uk]

A group of human rights activists set up a separate Facebook page called “Euromaidan – SOS” [uk] to offer free legal assistance to everyone facing repression due to participation in Euromaidan.

The role of such initiatives remains extremely important, as the pressure and number of bruital attacks on Euromaidan activists has increased exponentially. Thus, in the recent days stabbing of Kharkiv Euromaidan organizer Dmytro Pypypets, deadly beating of Kyiv Euromaidan activist Pavlo Mazurenko and brutal attack on journalist and activist Tetyana Chornovil were reported. Unfortunately, journalists remain on the forefront of these incidents and authorities seem unable or unwilling to put such practices to a halt. Amidst these events social media users have shared calls for organizing in their defense [uk], including suggestions for providing physical protection to lead media and activists.

An anonymous collage circulated online. Majority of people pictured are journalists beaten by the police or

An anonymous collage circulated online. The majority of people pictured are domestic and foreign journalists beaten by the police or “unidentified” perpetrators.

Identifying and demanding prosecution of those guilty in beating peaceful protesters and media

After almost a month since the brutal beating of peaceful protesters in the streets of Kyiv on November 30 and December 1, the government has neither identified nor prosecuted any of the officers involved, and have just dismissed two middle-ranked related public officials in an unsuccessful attempt to diffuse unrest.

As the authorities fail to identify members of the “Berkut” riot police division and other law enforcement authorities guilty of mass beatings during Euromaidan, several initiatives appeared online that aim to do this work themselves. “Ne zabudemo” (“We won't forget”) describes itself as a “movement for the restoration of justice” [uk]. By collecting photographic and video evidence from the protests as well as accounts of witnesses through its website [uk] and social media accounts, they aim to uncover and reveal the identities of Berkut members, as well as other related policemen, public prosecutors, investigators, judges and other individuals involved in incidents of brutality and the subsequent cover up attempts.

The screenshot of

The screenshot of “Ne zabudemo” (“We [won't] forget”) website, which aims to identify those guilty of beating peaceful protesters on Euromaidan. The inscription on the picture lists the name of a policeman already identified from the photo [uk]

Another blog called Faces of Berkut [uk, en] on Tumblr serves a similar purpose, seeking to identify only Berkut policemen partaking in brutal beatings and arrests.

Lustration lists and other “name and shame” initiatives

A political party and active participant of Euromaidan, the Democratic Alliance, set up a website “Ne buty skotom” (“Don't be an animal”) crowdsourcing the names and photos of policemen involved in beatings, judges and prosecutors banning peaceful rallies or prosecuting activists, as well as thugs initiating violence against Euromaidan participants and journalists, and similar cases.

A screenshot of the website seeking to identify and list authorities obstructing Euromaidan, breaking the law and limiting citizens rights and freedoms. The number on the bottom means  94 persons allegedly guilty of such actions were identified so far.

A screenshot of the website crowdsourcing information about authorities obstructing Euromaidan, breaking the law or limiting citizens’ rights and freedoms. The number on the bottom means 94 persons allegedly guilty of such actions were added so far.

“UDAR” – another opposition party active in Euromaidan and lead by a former world boxing champion Vitaliy Klychko compiled its own list of authorities that should be subjected to lustration when the government is changed. UDAR's Euromaidan Lustration List [uk] already contains over sixty names.

As the fate of the ongoing Euromaidan rallies remains uncertain, such initiatives are meant to foster exchange of information and help activists exert continuous pressure on authorities, while the protests continue and grow.

December 23 2013

Former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko Officially Supports #Euromaidan Movement

According to her official website, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has officially joined the Maidan Civil Movement, a newly formed civilian organization stemming from the Euromaidan movement, just as the protest that began in Ukraine in November 2013 enters its second month.

Tymoshenko, jailed in 2011 for allegedly “exceeding authority”, is considered by many around the world to be a political prisoner, while Ukrainians are divided on their opinions of her. Most Ukrainian citizens condemned her imprisonment in 2011, some claiming that the current regime's only reason for doing so was to remove her from politics after current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych won the 2010 presidential election, with Tymoshenko as his opponent in the run-off round, by just 3.5 percent.

In a YouTube video posted by Ukrainian Channel 5 and released on Tymoshenko's official site, the founders announce the new Maidan Civil Movement's inception before thousands of protesters gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square:

Tymoshenko's photograph has been gracing many posters and billboards related to the Euromaidan protests in recent weeks, and the jailed former prime minister's daughter has recently, along with other supporters, demanded the immediate release of her mother amid the growing anti-government demonstrations in the country. Other protesters are requesting that Tymoshenko's image be removed from any Euromaidan-related visual materials, not explicitly against Tymoshenko's person and image, but rather as a continuous request by the civilian movement to keep the protests unrelated to any political party or figure.

A recent post titled “Yulia Tymoshenko Isn't Who You Think She Is”, Policymic.com explains Tymoshenko's role in the country and the on-going protests:

Ongoing protests are not about Tymoshenko. Although, how she was treated has further undermined people's trust in the president and his regime, and this is reflected in their calls to keep politics (existing slogans of political opposition) out of Maidan. As an example, a petition was recently started on Avaaz to remove her portraits from the infamous Christmas tree. Currently, people see existing political opposition, including Tymosehko's “Fatherland” party, as part of the political problem rather than its solution. However, as of yet, the civil society is unable to offer new leaders of their own. A workable solution will have to come from their collaboration, but an effective recipe has yet to be found.

December 19 2013

Ukrainian Netizens Draft A Digital #Euromaidan Manifesto

As Euromaidan protests in Ukraine enter their second month, Ukrainian social media users have started circulating a Digital Euromaidan Manifesto [uk] drafted by their fellow netizens.

Below is the English translation of the full original statement:

Digital Euromaidan Manifesto

We, the Ukrainian Internet users united by Euromaidan principles of non-violent resistance state:

In the digital age, when Internet becomes the main source of information for millions of Ukrainian citizens and no one is able to limit the users with physical borders, the attempts of Ukrainian government to prevent the development of the society and force us to live in the age of television are bound to fail. The development of our society outruns the burnout of current government with its derogatory treatment of citizens. In a digital age it is impossible to hide one’s incompetence, fraud and corruption. In a digital age using brutal physical force becomes one’s condemnation. We will keep reminding about it. We will remember.

Our goals:
- To encourage citizens to participate in the protests demanding the prosecution of those responsible for the brutal crackdown on Nov. 30 rally and the resignation of the government;
- To continue providing comprehensive coverage of protests and acts of civil disobedience in Ukraine;
- To counter information attacks by the Ukrainian Presidential Administration and the Kremlin against the participants and ideas of Euromaidan done through media outlets controlled by the government;
- To stick to ethical principles and avoid publicizing unconfirmed, provocative and sensational information.

We are convinced that:
- The future of Ukraine depends on the efforts of every one of us;
- Our strength lies in unity and openness to the world and innovations;
- Significant portion of Ukrainian Internet is in solidarity with the values of Euromaidan.

We condemn:
- The attempts of the government to turn people’s attention away from Euromaidan’s demands to prosecute those guilty of using force on Euromaidan;
- Any attempts to manipulate public opinion;
- Biased coverage of Euromaidan by some Ukrainian and Russian media outlets.

We respect different opinions and are ready to engage with our opponents by the way of facts and reason. We will continue taking part in the acts of civil disobedience both on Euromaidan itself and in the informational space.

Together till victory! Glory to Ukraine! #євромайдан
Kyiv. December 19, 2013

December 15 2013

Ukraine: Live Streamed Monitoring of District Election Commissions

Amidst ongoing Euromaidan rallies throughout Ukraine, repeat elections have been held in five troubled single-mandate constituencies in the country, where results could not be confirmed during the 2012 Parliamentary election.

In order to increase the transaprency of the electoral process, a non-government organization, Civil Network OPORA [uk, en] is preparing to live stream the process of establishing election results at the five respective District Election Commissions. This is how the organization describes it on their website:

Attention! At 8:30 pm, online streaming from every of 5 district election commissions (223, 94, 197, 194, and 132) will be organized by Civil Network OPORA. Voters, observers, and journalists will be able to monitor the receipt of protocols of precinct election commissions in 5 problematic districts and record the results of count. [...]
The streaming will be available at the site of Civil Network OPORA: www.oporaua.org

December 09 2013

Ukraine: Translators Organize on Facebook to Provide Live #Euromaidan Updates

Volunteer translators following the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine have organized on Facebook, setting up pages like Maidan Needs Translators and Euromaidan Translators where urgent news from the protests that require translation to reach a wider international audience are shared and Euro-Maidan As It Is, where translated content is published.

The translators also provide content for counterpart English-language pages Euromaidan in English, Euromaidan Updates in English and Euromaidan News and Analysis [uk, en]. The process is very decentralized with volunteers not only carrying out translations but also suggesting fresh content.

Description on Maidan Needs Translators page reads:

Looking for those who are willing to translate for us and native speakers to proof-read. All help will be appreciated!

The pages that coordinate translations gathered hundreds of likes in just the first two days. Throughout the mass Euromaidan rally of December 8, Facebook volunteers played an important role, offering real-time translations of important news and developments.

How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement

As Euromaidan protests enter their third week in the Ukraine, social media and technology still play a key role in their organization. As the government violently cracked down on peaceful protesters on November 30, the eight day of the protests, this has turned into a mass anti-government movement in the country and has begun to resemble the 2004 Orange Revolution in many ways.

One of the major differences, however, between Euromaidan and the 2004 protests has been the use of new media, social networks and other IT tools for organizing and sustaining the protests.

A man holds his laptop while sitting on chopped wood amid protesters in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo by Dima Kravchuk. Used with permission.

A man opens his laptop while sitting on chopped wood amid protesters in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo by Dima Kravchuk. Dec. 5, 2013. Used with permission.

Since the beginning of the protests, Facebook in particular has played a central role in organizing protesters and informing wider audiences about the latest developments. The first gathering of protesters, organized in Kyiv on the eve of November 21 and which was immediately dubbed Euromaidan (European Square), was sparked by the appeals of several journalists and civil activists, including Mustafa Nayem [uk], a contributor of the leading independent online news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.

Organizing protesters through Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter soon became the key platforms for coordinating protest activities and sharing information. The now official EuroMaidan Facebook page [uk] set a new record in Ukraine [uk], having accumulated 76,000 likes in just the first eight days of its existence. The page is used to inform protesters about urgent news and issues, discuss plans of future actions, warn against using violence, share advice on how to deal with police forces, and much more. It has currently reached over 141,000 likes and over 167,700 interactions. An English-language page Euromaidan has also been set up, along with regional pages like Euromaidan Lviv [uk].

An official Facebook page of Euromaidan protests. The inscription on the cover page quotes the Constitution:

A screenshot of an official Euromaiden protests Facebook page. The inscription on the cover page quotes the country's constitution: “The people shall be the bearer of sovereignty and the sole source of power in Ukraine”[uk]. 

Official Euromaidan Twitter accounts @EuroMaydan [uk] and @EuroMaydan_eng [en] play a role similar to their respective Facebook pages, while they also help inform international audiences about the protests in Ukraine that initially went almost unnoticed by international media.

Before these leading social media accounts emerged and accumulated their audience, users largely relied on hashtags (#Євромайдан in Ukrainian and #Евромайдан in Russian) to share information. To help gather all relevant information and social media posts in one place, activists put together several websites with social media aggregators and useful links. Among them are Euromaidan.eu [uk], Euromaidan.tk [uk, ru, en], Euromaidan.com [ru], Maidan.in.ua [en].

“Euromaidan – SOS”: Tracking repression and offering timely help

Following beatings of protesters by riot police and the first arrests, additional Facebook pages and groups emerged to meet the growing need for medical and legal assistance, as well as for spreading basic information to keep protesters safe.

Facebook page of

A screenshot of “Euromaidan-SOS” Facebook page, a group offering free legal assistance to victims of police violence or arrests on #Euromaidan. A caption reads: “Human rights above all” [uk]. 

Євромайдан SOS (Euromaidan SOS) [uk] gathers information about victims of police beatings, government pressure and detentions. The description on the page reads [uk]:

Ця сторінка створена для надання правової допомоги постраждалим на Євромайдані. Ми юристи громадські активісти та журналісти – оперативно збираємо всю інформацію про постраждалих та тих, хто досі приймає участь у мітингах. А також про юристів, консультантів, які готові надати їм правову допомогу – та повязуємо їх між собою.Якщо у вас пропали родичі чи Ви стали жертвою побиття – НЕ МОВЧІТЬ! Відстоюйте свої права разом з нами!

This page is created to offer legal help for those injured during Euromaidan. We – lawyers, civic activists and journalists – collect timely information about injured and active protesters, as well as about lawyers and consultants ready to offer legal advice, and put them in touch with each other. If your relatives have gone missing or you have become a victim of beating – DO NOT KEEP SILENT! Fight for your rights together with us!

Soon, a separate website, Eurozahyst.org [uk], was also established for the same purpose.

An open Facebook group “The Revolution's Legal Department” [uk] has also been set up to discuss the legal side of Euromaidan-related developments in the country, share ideas and offer legal guidance to those who need it.

Along with lawyers, medical practicioners and students also organized to offer free medical aid to Euromaidan participants. They have set up several Facebook pages including “Організація волонтерів-медиків” (Organization of volunteer doctors) [uk] and Майдан.Медики (Maidan.Doctors) [uk] for organizing medical volunteers, with the first on-the-ground headquarters based in Kyiv's Mykhailivsky Cathedral and on Independence Square, the main gathering sites of the protests.

A Facebook page of a group of volunteer doctors offering free medical aid on Euromaidan in Kyiv. Dec. 7, 2013. Screenshot by Tetyana Bohdanova.

A screenshot of a Facebook page for a group of volunteer doctors offering free medical aid for Euromaidan in Kyiv. 

Crowdsourcing creative ideas and resources

Another Facebook page has been established to gather and share ideas for sustaining and expanding the Euromaidan movement. The Information Center “НЕ ЗЛИй МАЙДАН” (Don't Ditch Maidan) [uk] began as an idea on December 1 at the main protest site in Kyiv, and the Facebook page [uk] was set up four days later. With already more than 3,000 likes as of December 7, 2013, it solicits creative ideas for actions, slogans and posters from Facebook users and shares them with a wider Internet audience. It also interacts with other Euromaidan-related online initiatives.

A photoshopped image created by Vitaliy Moroz and circulated online. The image conveys a key message about Euromaidan to the world.

Image created by Vitaliy Moroz on Dec. 1, 2013 and circulated online. The image conveys a key message about Euromaidan to the world.

In addition, a separate Facebook page “Страйк плакат” (Strike placard) [uk] has been established specifically for sharing creative posters and designs for the protest.

An NGO, “Kyevers for reforms”, launched a crowdfunding initiative on Biggidea.com, aiming to collect some 12,000 US dollars to help keep Euromaidan protesters in Kyiv warm and fed [uk]. Double this amount was been collected for the project by its December 8, 2013 deadline.

Coordinating volunteers for Euromaidan

Many observers have noted how well-organized the main protest site, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), and the protest headquarters, the Kyiv City Administration building taken over by protesters on December 1, are. In fact, Independence Square has already been barricaded by activists who protect it during the day and patrol it at night. People also bring and serve food there, help provide shelter and medical aid for protesters, while activists also entertain each other with a wide range of activities [photos], from football games to concerts, books and open public lectures offered by specialists in various areas. While the credit for this goes to the protesters on the ground, activists have also made use of available Internet tools to aid the process.

Website Galas.org.ua[uk] uses crowdmapping to coordinate the needs of Euromaidan participants with volunteers willing to help. A related Facebook page [uk] has also been launched.

Activists use crowdmapping tools to coordinate Euromaidan volunteers in Kyiv. Dec. 7, 2013. Screenshot by Tetyana Bohdanova

A screenshot of a crowdmapping tool that activists use to coordinate Euromaidan volunteers in Kyiv. 

Maidanhelp.org serves a similar purpose, crowdsourcing information about current needs of Euromaidan participants.

Solidarity through Internet access

With these and other initiatives emerging every day, it is clear that technology has become one of the keys to coordinating and, more importantly, sustaining Euromaidan protests in Ukraine. During the previous weekend of protests, one of the major Ukrainian Internet providers, Volya-Cable, announced [uk] that it increased the speed of Internet connection for its clients residing in the center of Kyiv and called on them to open Internet access for protesters to use. Many have followed this advice and opened their WiFi connections, while other users released their WiFi passwords [uk] to the public.

December 08 2013

Ukranian Civil Society Calls for International Investigation of Yanukovych's Financial Activities

As anti-government Euromaidan protests enter their forth week in Ukraine, representatives of Ukrainian civil society are calling on leaders of the European Union, the US and their law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to investigate alleged incidences of corruption and money laundering by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son, Oleksandr Yanukovych.

The data collected by activists has been presented in infographics published recently on http://www.yanukovich.info/.

vyanukovych2_eng

Their open appeal on the website reads [en, uk]:

We believe that authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych has been fueled by proceeds of corruption laundered via the international financial system through the network of shell-companies and professional intermediaries. We reckon as unacceptable the usage of the international financial system to support the Yanukovych regime, which violently disperses peaceful demonstrations, organizes bloody beating of armless people, and kangaroo courts, that throw them later in jail.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

December 06 2013

As Ukraine's Protests Escalate, #Euromaidan Hashtag Lost in a Sea of Information

Protesters gathered under flags in Kyiv to demand the Ukrainian government to reverse its policy decision and sign a landmark agreement with the EU; photo by Sergii Kharchenko, courtesy of Demotix, used with permission.

Protesters gathered under flags in Kyiv to demand that the Ukrainian government reverse its policy decision and sign a landmark agreement with the EU. Photo by Sergii Kharchenko. Copyright Demotix.

Protests in Ukraine, which started on November 21, 2013, when President Victor Yanukovych and his government reneged on promises to sign an association agreement with the European Union, are the most populous since the 2004 Orange Revolution. New media and social networks have played a key role in both the initiation and development of the Euromaidan protests, as they are known.

But as the movement has escalated, it has become harder to follow solely on the Internet.

Euromaidan, observers say, was made possible in large part thanks to social media. Facebook and Twitter in particular have emerged as key platforms for coordinating protest activities and sharing information, photos and videos about protest numbers, locations and issues such as police violence and provocation from all sides.

The hashtags initially used (Ukrainian #євромайдан, Russian #евромайдан, and English #euromaidan) emerged immediately on the first evening of the protests and were highly useful as an instrument of preliminary coordination and for informing online users both in Ukraine and in other countries. They gave people a sense of the scale of events - during the initial stage of protests, some 3,200 tweets were published per hour on November 25 and up to 4,800 per hour on November 30, the day of the first violent police crackdown on protesters.

But as protests escalated, with law enforcement violently dispersing a group of protesters camped out in the main square of Ukraine's capital Kiev in the early morning hours of November 30, and massive crowds blocking and occupying key government buildings the following day, triggering violent standoffs in some instances with riot police, the hashtags began to disappear from many tweets about Euromaidan protests, making them harder to follow remotely.

A large number of tweets about the unrest still use the hashtags, but there are many Twitter users who are dropping what was once a tool to unite protesters and disperse information further:

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci quoted above observed when she followed the Gezi protests in Turkey that as the #occupygezi events unfolded, the popular hashtags used to coordinate people and set the protest agenda gave way to conversations among people in what most of them viewed as an already established network of like-minded citizens. Discussion and action on and offline remained very much alive and just as important to the outcome of the protests, but it continued on without the hashtag. She added on Twitter:

Popular sources of information on the Euromaidan protests, like the newly hatched online public television outlet Hromadske TV, which provided one of the few live streams from the protests, and key online news outlet Ukrainska Pravda, simply assume that those who are interested in following the protests will follow them anyway or retweet their updates to their own networks, so they don’t bother with hashtags that take up more characters that can be used instead for additional information most of the time.

The same line of thinking applies to already consolidated activist efforts in spreading information about the protests, such as Twitter accounts @euromaidan, @EuroMaydan and their English-language counterpart @EuroMaydan_eng. As events have progressed, those who manage these accounts stopped attaching relevant hashtags to every tweet, using them only occasionally.

Hromadske TV presented evidence of the beating of one of its reporters:

Hromadske journalist Dmytro Gnap, who was beaten in Mariinsky park DETAILS HERE: http://t.co/hbNpcHwZ41 pic.twitter.com/9ON1lqKq5y

Ukrainska Pravda shared useful information for injured protesters:

The protest participants that have been injured will be accepted by Kyiv Hospital no. 17, Kyiv Emergency Medical Care Hospital and Oleksandrivska Hospital.

— Українська правда (@ukrpravda_news) December 1, 2013

The English-language Euromaidan account relayed the latest traffic news:

In the meantime, some netizens have assembled lists of reliable sources of information and live streams of the events in an attempt to help members of the general public who may not be as web savvy or understand the events and development of the Euromaidan movement.

Foreign correspondents covering affairs in Ukraine, like Christopher Miller, the English-language editor of the Kyiv Post, or Mashable's Executive Director Jim Roberts, along with other local and international journalists, rarely add the internationalized #Euromaidan hashtag. Most often, they simply using the general hashtags #Ukraine or #Kiev in their tweets to localize the events that they are describing:

Nataliya Gumenyuk, a journalist with Hromadske TV, translated her Ukrainian tweet into English to spread information to foreign media:

Christopher Miller of the Kyiv Post combined the popular #Euromaidan hashtag with the more general location keywords:

Lately, it seems, protesters and those on the ground in Kyiv can't spare the time or space to include a hashtag. Events occur too quickly, unfold unpredictably, and valuable space and time for informing the public is paramount. Yet these behavioral trends in regards to hashtags mean that researchers aggregating data about protests who typically use related hashtags to follow the story are missing a lot of important content. Data gathered this way may distort the scope of the protests, their tone and message, possibly resulting in glaring omissions of key voices present in the civic and political activity around the protest.

Mainstream media most often still refer to the Euromaidan protests as pro-European Union and sometimes as anti-Russian, and they continuously focus on the politics of the protests, seemingly unaware that the sentiment among Ukrainian citizens today, in particular after the police brutality that began on the eightth day of protests, represents a battle for social equality, change in government and, as many protesters have stressed, a means of “taking back” their country. As user James Bray tweeted, using an entirely different and unrelated hashtag:

November 24 2013

Interactive Map of #Euromaidan Protests in Support Ukraine's EU Integration

Interactive protest map on November 23, 2013. Screenshot by Tetyana Bohdanova.

Interactive protest map on November 23, 2013. Screenshot by Tetyana Bohdanova.

A Lviv-based Facebook user, Bogdan Tsap, has set up an interactive map of pro-EU Association Agreement protests in Ukraine. On his Facebook wall, Bogdan described [uk] his creation:

Створив інтерактивну карту #Євромайдан з усіма містами які брали участь. Будь ласка поширте та давайте знати що упустив

[I] set up an interactive #Євромайдан map with all cities that participated. Please share and let me know what I have missed.

At the time of writing this post the map has grown substantially, with users adding protest sites across Ukraine, in the EU and the US.

As Global Voices reported, the protests dubbed “Euromaidan” erupted on November 21, 2013, after the Ukrainian government announced it was suspending the preparations for signing a EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, a historic deal that would secure the post-Soviet country's European integration.

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