A 19 year-old student of the Precarpathian University philosophy department Roman Guryk, was killed yesterday in Kyiv during the fatal violence. Today, there were no classes at the university. A memorial service was held at the university in the morning followed by a memorial service outside the Regional Administration building. His funeral will be held on Monday, while the Student Resistance will be holding two memorials at the weekend in the Prosvita Centre.
Yesterday evening outside the Regional Administration building a memorial service was held for all those killed. The city marked what was already, before yesterday’s mass killings, already an official day of mourning following deaths on Tuesday, by becoming unusually quiet. Not only was it a case of people generally avoiding socialising in cafes, but shops were largely free of music while the massive advertising screens around the city were silenced.
Usually these screens on the Market Square, by the theatre or, this one, on Vichevyj Maydan, or Rally Square, by the post office, the site of the original Euromaidan protests in the city, blare out unbearably loud adverts for local businesses. The concept of noise pollution is not yet widespread in Ukraine.
The city is clearly in mourning and shock, with the mass deaths in Kyiv and the death of a local student adding to the feeling which disrupts the usual atmosphere of this Central European city characterised by cafe culture, by going for a stroll around the city, by sitting on benches and having a chat or playing board games. Those aspects of the city’s life are clearly muted.
But still, everyday life goes on, or struggle on, while the revolution and resistance also continues in its various innovative and potentially violent ways.
In terms of everyday life, the potential collapse of the currency or economy is taking its toll, as are feelings of panic induced by fears of martial law or a state of emergency. People have begun making massive withdrawals from cash machines and banks, with queues forming at odd times outside the State Savings Bank or branches of PrivatBank not having any cash. The cash, where possible, might be exchanged into solid foreign currencies, or it has been spent on stockpiling goods. By Thursday night, the supermarkets that remained open were clearly short of cooking oil, grain and buckwheat, milk and bread, while other reports suggest salt was in short supply. Not everyone, though, as cash to withdraw or exchange, since many state employees, including university lecturers, had not received their pay this month. Only this morning was some money paid into accounts, although this was merely one third of the amount due. Either the state is deliberately trying to control the amount of money available to stem panic buying – or the state treasury is actually running out of cash.
At the moment, there is no evidence that lecturers are willing to self-organise like the students or those who are occupying central Kyiv.
Most private businesses are running as usual, although the three stores of supermarket chain Silpo were blockaded on Tuesday and Wednesday. Likewise, the central market was shut down with stallholders stating that they were “forced to volunteer” to go on strike. The market is owned by a local Party of Regions figure, thus it was forced by local activists to shut down. I have not been able to establish the connection between Silpo and the Party of Regions. However, by today the supermarkets and the market were open again and well-stocked and doing a roaring trade. Prices, despite the weakening of the Ukrainian hryvnia, seem fairly stable – for now.
Another store that was blockaded was Epicentre, the Ukrainian B&Q. The managers of the city branch were asked to supply goods useful to protesters in Kyiv, which they duly did, even putting online an invoice which became their donation to the cause. That store will remain closed until the conclusion of the revolution, according to activists. Yesterday evening, when we entered the Student Resistance HQ, we could see young men and some women working on turning these goods into shields and basic weaponry, while they also possessed some ready-made versions. They’ve now sent a convoy of weapons, shields and fighters to Kyiv.
Yesterday, there were reports that busloads of “titushky”, or government-sponsored street fighters, were being transported to the city. This meant that all roads into the city, beginning with the bridge over the river, were blockaded and patrolled by baseball-bat wielding youths. No titushky entered the city, although the rumours that they were already in the city spread like wildfire especially among the older population less likely to have been online with up-to-date information. However, the fear of potential violence did close a language school in the city for the day, while some students were summoned home by their parents.
The situation in the city is currently fairly peaceful compared to Tuesday and Wednesday when the Security Office was being stormed, likewise the Prosecutor’s Office and the Tax Office. Despite this relative calm, it is somewhat disconcerting to see order being kept by teenagers and men in their twenties masked and with baseball bats. Representatives of Right Sector/ Pravyj Sektor and Maidan Self-Defence are cooperating with police as of tonight in patrolling the city. Lviv police today went to Kyiv for the first time and joined the protesters, offering their protection while also siding with the more moderate Maidan Self-Defence in order to support the negotiated end to the current regime. Ivano-Frankivsk police are likely to follow suit. Although in Kyiv they might encounter Right Sector activists who, at the moment, seem determined to push through a violent end to the Yanukovych regime, promising to use arms in storming government buildings tomorrow morning.