ARTEM, 38, works in the private sector as a marketing manager of the NGO, InitiativeE +. He played a significant role in the revolution, communicating and organising with other countries in Europe.
ARTEM- I joined Maidan from the early days. It was a drive to demonstrate my intention to be part of the European vector. We hated Yanukovych's approach of going to Russia. We felt let down because we wanted to join the European nation of families. That’s why we supported the first street protests. When it turned into a well-organised protest on Maidan Square, we decided to help people from out of town. We brought them in our cars, delivered food and drink and provided medicine. On 19th January, things started to turn hostile. Tires were burnt and the clashes between protestors and the police broke out. I met with some guys and we arranged a start up to unite us. We organised cars and made agreements with central churches. First a Lutheran church, then an orthodox church and finally 2 catholic churches. All these churches had well prepared facilities; warm rooms, blankets and mattresses. Doctors agreed to be there overnight to help the wounded. We brought ten mobile phone and posted adverts around Maidan, telling anyone who was sick or injured that we had shelter. We delivered more than 270 people to these locations at the start of Maidan, where they were treated and allowed time to relax. But many fled within 3 days, sick of Maidan.
Our activities expanded a lot, and by the end of February we had many supporters, and 45 people working with us. We didn’t use social media, as what we were doing was illegal, and best kept undercover. Our contact centre had created a database of all those that required treatment. We were approached by several foreign embassies and contacts including Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. Their diplomats suggested medical assistance. They made contact with activists to be treated abroad, whilst we instigated a large operation with military planes, to transport the activists to hospitals in these countries, as well as Canada, the USA and the UK. Over 4 weeks, about 275 people were transported out of Ukraine. After that we decided to create an NGO: E +. The first part of the project was to initiate the database, and we received support from the Ukraine diaspora. They gave us a grant whilst the Council of Europe and People in Need provided us with a template for the database. We started to travel through major Ukrainian towns for 3 month in 2014 and met with over 700 people. The Lutheran church that opened its doors for us during Maidan, served as our office, free of charge. We created this database and connected with the ministry of internal affairs and the ministry of healthcare. For 2 years we monitored the granting of social security numbers and payments of those injured in Maidan.
E + is a big NGO that helps the children of parents killed in the war. We welcome children from Donetsk region and take them to the mountain region to help them de-Russianize and introduce soft Ukraninisation. We also run a project for financial support for widows of soldiers killed in the war and those who have become disabled. Our volunteers are also involved in psychological rehabilitation. We realised our own initiatives and became engaged with civic society. We are supporting and pushing the country ahead, as our government is still weak from transitioning. Our organisation came about in May and we started to advocate the interest of our participants. When the experts who were not politicians liked to show their ideas, we created the map of reform. We collected the biggest organisations in one place and developed our mechanisms of communications.
DOM- Was the revolution successful?
A-Of course! It was a huge success for the country. We had much more support from Europe and the integration of NATO. But many were upset because we are in a worse economic state and with no clear sight to join the EU. But most of us realise that with more transparency, we will have success. Maidan is the start of a long story and it’s the start of a shift for the young for a better future. Now you can easily join a civic sector thanks to European funding. It plays a significant role in policymaking decision. Civic society is now a new source of potential to join the state service. It’s a good thing from Maidan. We started de-communisation. We have taken down many Lenin and Stalin statues and its now illegal to use communist era names. It’s a big step. In the last three years, there have been thousands of new NGO’s showing the young true potential. Reformation package involves more young people. Although we are in economic hardship, we are headed in the right direction. None of the deaths were for nothing. If we stick to our paths and work harder, the country will look totally different in the next 10 years.