Femen on protests in Kiev: ‘Now, it's fight or die'

Ukraine's most famous protesters issue a passionate manifesto for change and survival

Arts+Culture Femen Day
@euromaidan st michael's church acting as hospital
St Michael's Church, which has been turned into a hospital for injured protesters Via @euromaidan

To celebrate our Girls Rule issue, Dazed have been running a series of takeovers. We've played host to Angel HazeStacy Martin and Petra Collins. Today we're rounding off Girls Rule with a day of content curated by female protest group Femen. Inna Shevchenko selects the activist group's literary inspirations, we chart the dA-Zed of female protest and Femen react to the violence in Kiev with their own manifesto for change. Keep checking our Femen Day page for more throughout the day.

In February 2010,  Femen did its first topless demonstration in Ukraine. It was the day Yanukovich was elected as president of Ukraine. Five Femen activists, topless for the first time, broke into a voting poll with slogans saying: "The war will start soon..."

Now, we are in February 2014 and we are at war in Ukraine.  

Yanukovich is now recognized as a dictator, responsible for crimes as people are killed every second in the main square in Kiev. Now, all the world can observe it. Unfortunately, before the Euromaidan protests, the political persecution and ‘disappearances’ of activists and journalists did not set off alarm bells for either Ukrainians or the whole world. We deeply regret it.

The revolution in Ukraine, that has lasted for three months, started as a protest against Yanukovich dropping EU agreements. It transformed into a demand to rebuild the entire political system of the country. Neither the government nor opposition were ready for such huge riot by Ukrainians. And because of the President’s inability to understand the situation, combined with the weakness of the opposition, Ukraine is on the edge of national catastrophe now. 

“Today, the fight for basic human rights, something that seems so normal for any European citizen, is punished with death in Ukraine"

Special police forces are operating seemingly uncontrolled or half-controlled by the ministry. The crowd of protesters organise themselves,  not by opposition leaders who lack the ability to make strong decisions. And this is why we see snipers who blindly shooting at square protesters and journalists, and why some extremist nationalists, who are burning buildings in the center of Kiev, discredit the crowd.    

Unfortunately, a lot is happening at the Maidan but nothing in official cabinets of Ukraine. The president doesn't seem to realize the situation and that he must resign, and the opposition doesn't know how to push for political action. People are continuing to die.

People don’t expect positive changes anymore. They are trying to survive, again – or, as it’s better to say – as always.

Like in my childhood after the USSR collapsed, people are taking all their cash from bank machines and buying everything from supermarkets, to collect – as we say in Ukraine – "for a black day." They know it's coming or has already come. The country is nearly destroyed.

Today, the fight for basic human rights, something that seems so normal for any European citizen, is punishable by death in Ukraine. People are continuing to go to the Maidan, knowing that they could be killed today, just as their friends or relatives were killed yesterday. 

They don't believe Ukrainian politicians, and they’ve also lost hope in Europe, which only now put sanctions against Ukraine’s politicians and killers. Those sanctions were earned by dozens of dead protesters.

We all wait for the day the president will resign. We all want Russian occupation to end, and we all hope the European Union and the US will support the brave acts for freedom of Ukrainians but we all know that people will not leave barricades. Now, it’s fight or die. 

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