The Maidan Movement Drives Ukraine Toward Freedom – Or Not?


Protesters camped out in government buildings

Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb 27, 2014 – The battle in the streets of Kyiv continues but it is no longer violent. Last night on Independence Square, amidst the flowers for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, we listened as candidates were announced for Ukraine’s interim government. Tens of thousands stood for hours in freezing cold to sing, to pray, and to cheer the announcement of these people chosen and approved by the Maidan organization. Seeds of hope have been planted again in the soil of Ukraine. It is not clear, however, if they will blossom into flowers of freedom.

This highly unique situation is both complex and fluid. As the news here reported that Putin is setting Russian forces on high alert, the situation in Kyiv is peaceful. In Crimea however, depending on which television station they watch, they may be convinced an illegal coup has taken place.

Maidan Leaders Must Approve New Leadership

What is discussed in Parliament must be vetted and approved by the Maidan movement leadership, even though; the Maidan movement is not a political party represented in Parliament. Yet today in Ukraine, it is this movement of Ukrainian citizens, willing to give their lives for a free Ukraine, that is calling the political shots. They fundamentally reject the corruption of the past and those politicians associated with it.

The Maidan dream is one for a normal, free, and European type of Ukraine. The future for Ukraine, however, is at best uncertain. The television stations in the south and east of the country carry Russian dominated programming. The Russian nightly news portrays the Maidan protesters as violent thugs who have overthrown the government. The Russian speaking population in eastern Ukraine desire stability and closer ties with Russia. They believe that the Maidan protesters are the problem, and since they were not elected they must wait for new elections.


Jeff Thompson (left) in Kyiv with a
‘Self Defense’ freedom fighter

In other words, almost one half of the country was more or less satisfied with the status quo of a corrupt dictator who looted the country for his own personal gain. Even when folks admit that Yanukovich was a corrupt president, they still do not believe in the values of the Maidan movement. They believe that Yanukovich should be rejected, but not their close ties to mother Russia. They believe that Ukrainians, if given political power, will discriminate against ethnic Russians. This is what they are told every day on Russian state controlled television.

But for today, tens of thousands of other citizens gather daily in Independence Square to express their desire for a country free of corrupt politicians. The Maidan organization has created a movement that desires a clean break with the communism of the past and the bribery and corruption associated with it. The “Self Defense” freedom fighters, who make up a faction within the larger movement, patrol the streets and man the barricades. The battle against corruption is far from over, and for right now, Maidan and their affiliated groups, without an address or telephone number, force their way forward toward freedom.

In America we ultimately applaud the values of the Maidan movement. In fact, we simply just take them for granted. We would like these values to be attained through peaceful elections. Molotov cocktails in the streets are not our idea of a movement we can support. Thus, we support their values but must stop short of supporting their methods. So at this time America and the world wait to see how the future will develop in this country called Ukraine. Time, however, is not on the side of Ukraine. The economic issues are too urgent.

As I speak to people here in Ukraine, I realize that they are afraid to hope for a brighter future. Their hopes were dashed in the 2004 Orange Revolution. This time, however, it is different. Over 100 people have lost their lives for this thing called freedom. I support the Maidan movement for their values, their courage, and their dream of a brighter future for their children.

Ukrainians are proud, hard working people. This is their chance to break free from Russian domination and political corruption. They must keep the faith. We pray the light of the gospel of Christ will shine forth in a free Ukraine. Glory to God. Long Live Ukraine!

-Jeff Thomspon