The thaw came unseasonably early and unexpectedly quickly. Now the city is a mixture of slush and cleared pavements. The closer to administrative buildings, the more likely is the latter. The square outside the city and regional administration offices (aka The White House) is now clear of barricades, besides a small enclave fortified by tyres and fencing. Before the thaw, the barricades formed a labyrinth of passages, surrounding the regional administration from all sides. This video shows a walk through part of the old barricades.
The remaining enclave is protected by the Maidan Self-Defence organisation, which is largely associated with The Right Sector (Pravij Sektor). Right Sector’s newspaper was the only publication evident at this small camp, which signals that organisation’s position as the most radical element in the protests now largely disappointed by the compromise that has been reached around the country.
An advantage to the barricades was the people didn’t park like complete idiots, at least in this part of the city. That is now over with the thaw.
All occupied administration buildings have been evacuated by protesters in exchange for the government releasing and dropping all charges against Euromaidan protesters. Around the country squares remain, however, occupied, as an indication of the ongoing protests and the need for demonstrators to hold the government to its promises. The OSCE is supervising the process, which is to include free access for citizens to administration building.
While the negotiations between the opposition and the government have been ongoing and a tendency towards compromise was always evident, it is highly likely that the thaw influenced the decision to abandon buildings and barricades. In this blog, I also believed that the snow, ice and tyre barricades would last at least until mid-March, but this year seems to be highly unusual in terms of temperatures approaching double figures in mid-February.
In Ivano-Frankivsk around 1000 residents attended the daily rally this evening, while around 10,000 came yesterday to the White House square, perhaps partly encouraged by the good weather and the pro-Europe/pro-Maidan oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Right Sector, however, refuses to engage with Poroshenko and has declared the he will be top of their “lustration” list.
At university today, my class was briefly interrupted by a young woman who turned out to be the head of the university’s “Profkom” or student council. She announced that at 9 a.m. there would be a gathering outside the university by Studentska Svoboda before a larger rally at 2 p.m. She left after the announcement, which included the information that the Dean of the department gives his permission to attend but asked that any students leaving classes avoid making any noise as they made their way down to my gathering. This indicates the divisions remain among the higher ranks of the university in terms of the degree of engagements with the protests. However, none of my students left for the Student Liberty meeting. None of twelve knew whether this organisation was connected to the right-wing party Svoboda, while only a couple whispered even a contemplation of whether to attend. They had no idea why it should take five hours from the initial gathering to the second, while if they did leave they said they were most likely to have gone to library, as they did during Thursday’s warning strike. It seems that student enthusiasm is largely on the wane when it comes to further protests, as these seem more distant and centred on traditional modes of political power rather than popular insurgency.
The square outside the Regional Administration building today. Previously a site of large-scale, ice and snow barricades.
The Maidan Self-Defence and Right Sector tent and enclave.