August 31 events in Kyiv as told by the protestors
04 September, 2015
“I have given everything to Ukraine, and now people like me are branded radicals”

“I participated in the Maidan protests. Back then, when I stood at the Independence Square in the center of Kyiv, I put Ukraine’s European choice before my family, my job, my life and everything else I had – just like all the others who stood by my side. When thugs from “Berkut” started sniping at us from the rooftops, we had next to nothing to defend
ourselves with; I had to close the eyes of many of my fellows on that day. We fought against the vast Russia that supported these thugs with our bare hands. We got attacked, beaten, mutilated and murdered, but we have managed to stand strong and united through all of this.”

Protests against decentralization law claim lives of three people in Ukraine

But now we are being told that our fight is pointless, that things are going differently, that Russia is too aggressive and unjust and thus we need to stop. If they had enough and want to run home to mommy, let them! This is not what we fought for and we are not going to stop!” proclaims Sergey Klimchenko, a Kyivan protestor who directly participated in the events that unfolded on August 31 in front of Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament.
The clash between protestors and the police took place in the center of Kyiv when the MPs were discussing the bill proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, which envisaged providing more autonomy to eastern Ukrainian territories currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The violent confrontation culminated in a grenade getting thrown at the police cordon by Igor Germanyuk, a 27-year-old member of Freedom party. The fighting and the explosion has resulted in one police officer dying on the spot and two others – Oleksandr Kostina and Dmitri Slastikov - dying of their wounds in the hospital later. In total, there are over 90 casualties.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseny Yatsenyuk has laid blame for the deaths and injuries on the ultranationalist elements, while President Poroshenko called the clash “an act of backstabbing”.

“What else am I supposed to call what happened in front of the Verkhovna Rada if not an act of backstabbing? It was an anti-Ukrainian action, and all of its participants and organizers will be held responsible with the utmost rigor of the law. I promise to personally keep an eye on the investigation,” Poroshenko pledged.

However, the protestors claim that Russia has already achieved its goals and the government that promised the Euromaidan protestors an unconditional European future is now turning against the country’s own population in favor of appeasing the pro-Russian public in the eastern regions.

Yuri Shamrai, protestor:

– They are calling us radicals just because we demanded the very thing we fought and bled for. When Russians invaded Ukraine, I volunteered, got accepted into the ranks of the National Guard and ended up at the frontline. I saw people get wounded, shot or simply blown to pieces – the very people with whom moments ago I was sharing a piece of some trivial banter to take our minds off the fighting. They were inexperienced volunteers, just like me.

When I was helping the boys rescue the badly burned crew from the wreckage of the helicopter that got shot down, I had something akin to an epiphany. I realized that a certain stage in my life has drawn to a close and that I would never be able to live alongside Russians peacefully, especially considering their insatiable ambition. If they want to live by our side, they should understand and accept the fact that Ukrainians fight for a better, European future; by the way, it is supposed to be the future of their children as well, since they live here, in Ukraine. If they prefer Soviet Union to this, they can pack up and leave – no one is keeping them here.

This is the idea that I and many others came to get across to our government on August 31. We paved these people’s path to power with our blood and bones, and now they refuse to even listen to us. None of them even deigned to come outside and talk to us. What happened after is, of course, a tragedy. I am thoroughly against innocent people dying, but we will not forgive the government for turning its back on its people. I, too, was injured in the meatgrinder that the protest in front of the Rada was turned into, but it takes far more than that to scare me.

We need to stop somewhere. Either Russian or our government needs to be put in its place, since as you can see, they are incapable of doing so of their own volition.