This gallery contains 80 photos.
As the conflict turns a corner entering a new and dangerous phase, here are 80 pictures I took during two visits to Kiev in late January and mid February.
On the worst day at Euromaidan, a handful of guns started appearing among protesters at the frontline. Someone had told me that protesters had stockpiled over three thousand firearms (unverified). In many ways, given that men with clubs and stones were running into sniper fire from government forces it was not surprising, but then on another level this could very easily have spiraled out of control. There are other recent examples where non-violent resistance became gradually more and more violent – each side dealing lower and lower blows – until eventually it was all out civil war. I am so incredibly glad that has been avoided in the Ukraine so far, and while many voices rightfully express concern about finding a consensus moving forward, I think it’s OK to pause for just one moment and be grateful for what Ukraine avoided.
Going home from the afflicted areas of the world is always a shock. I go from a world where people are fighting for their lives or livelihoods, or to have their voice heard, to another where people take little interest in how their country is run, brand all politics boring, and think we’re going to have a revolution by not voting. Many rely on a social platform like facebook to get their news, and even still object to anything political being posted because life is easier without it. And yet viewing through the prism of world affairs we, unjustly,are the ones with a system that gives us a level of untroubled living – one that anesthetises our senses to our catastrophic policies in other parts of the world. We are now a rich suburbia of the world- the battles we fight are thousands of miles away, and the houses and cars we have make us collectively the world’s ‘elite’. We, collectively, are the bankers that we talk of.
Ukraine has shown me how things can change though, and how trouble can arrive at your doorstep. And I wonder how long it will be, with our hands off the steering wheel, that the car veers off the road and crashes. We need to vote, we need new political parties, we need young people in politics, and we need to get our hands back on the steering wheel.