It’s important to speed up documentation of the Revolution, yet the story of Maidan should be written responsibly, include all the sides of the story and then represented in a modern way.
Now, three years after the Revolution of Dignity, the most important tasks facing the Ukrainian society are to maintain attention to the Maidan events, including incomplete inquiries, and work to remember them. This requires collecting reminiscences from the witnesses before they are worn over time and develop a strategy to support the memory of these events on the national level, starting with the establishment of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity. This opinion was expressed at a discussion, dedicated to the third anniversary of Euromaidan, held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The primary task – to document reminiscences
“This memory is alive and very plastic. It was one in 2014 and completely different now. Without remembering and collecting it, we may lose the most precious,” explained Anastasiya Gaidukevych, head of Museum Affairs Department, Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. “Everything that is happening around – political situation, war, frustration, lack of strength to go on, to fight the system that remained as it was – all is reflected on memories either as tough disappointment or understanding that we really do something”. She noted that in 2014, within the framework of the Maidan Oral History project, they recorded reminiscences of over 1,000 people. Now they continue to collect reminiscences of those who participated in regional Maidans, including in eastern Ukraine. They will come out as a separate book.
The Maidan history should be written responsibly, it must be objective, not mythologized – “perhaps not very pleasant, but true,” noted Inna Plekhanova and Tamara Shvets, relatives of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes. To do this, it is desirable to record and save reminiscences of not only Maidan participants but also those who were on the opposite side. “We made such attempts but none of the other side – even ordinary Anti-Maidan participants – want to share memories,” said Anastasiya Gaidukevych. According to her, the biggest problem is finding the location of those who participated in the events, so the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory encourages everyone to contact them.
The history of the Revolution of Dignity requires modern forms of commemoration
One of the primary tasks is finding modern forms of commemoration, said Igor Poshyvailo, director of the Memorial Complex of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred – Museum of the Revolution of Dignity. “The previous forms, unfortunately, are not relevant – they tend to create impersonalized idols. The museum must become an important element in the creation of society. That tragedy, that triumph and those achievements ought to become important for the people of new generations, for people outside of the context, for foreigners,” explained Igor Poshyvailo.
He said that an effective modern approach is micro-histories of individuals who witnessed the events. Given this, it is advisable to gather as much information as possible about each of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes so that fellow citizens could see them as real people, personalities with their system of values and beliefs, and thus better understand their motivation.
This format of personal stories would be best to talk about the events to the younger generation so as not to turn them into a dry formality such as “Lenin’s lessons” based on special instructions. Anastasiya Gaidukevych spoke about the positive experience of such lessons with ATO veterans. “We had the experience of a lesson on the deportation day. […] We invited Crimean Tatars to tell their personal stories in these schools. You can also tell what you remember from Maidan, about the student Maidan dispersal, about the death of Sergiy Nigoyan, and our hospital duties. Schools can invite families of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes from their regions,” said Tamila Tasheva. These initiatives will not only help preserve and pass the memory, but gradually complete this puzzle of personal stories in an objective overall picture of events because everyone remembers some other details and other aspects.
Igor Guryk spoke about the contest “What, where, when” based on the Maidan events which will be experimentally conducted in Ivano-Frankivsk on December 8. “It will involve 10 teams – mostly students of colleges and schools. Those who want to participate need to study what happened and how it was,” he noted. If successful, this initiative could continue.
Museum of the Revolution of Dignity is needed today
“The creation of a single memorial complex, which would have not only a status but also the authority and responsibility to retain the memory of it, is the only way out for the government, general public and all interested parties today. This museum will help find and build the identity of Kyiv, as well as create a platform for foreigners to understand who stood on Maidan and what to expect from them in the future,” noted Igor Poshyvailo. Availability of public demand has already been confirmed by the example of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity in Ivano-Frankivsk. “There is everything but the smell – the barricades, blood-stained mannequins on stretchers, medical tent, chapel, as it was during the Maidan events. Visible things are very important. They can be described, but when you see them clearly, it is more striking,” noted Igor Guryk. According to him, not only people from surrounding towns, but also from abroad intentionally make excursions to the museum.
According to the activists, though this is quite new history, the Maidan museum should be created just now. First, it is important from a purely practical point of view. “If the museum housed a section for temporary exhibits, there would be crowds of people willing to share their items with the museum. As soon as the press repeat the reports about the Museum of Maidan, phones are ringing off the hook as people want to share their items with the museum,” noted Anastasiya Gaidukevych.
Besides, the rapid emergence of the museum would save more Maidan attractions that are the objects of urban space. The panelists expressed concern that conspicuous evidences of those events – the bullet-riddled city lights, poles, October Palace facade, which has already been painted, smoke-darkened stairs at the monument of Independence are gradually disappearing. They should be retained in the memory of those days, or moved into the museum.
Second, the museum will serve as a visual reminder and warning to society and the government, that the goals for which people died, have not been achieved, and that this story has not ended yet. “The fact that now trials have started is very important, but a truthful picture of what happened should be established. Effective investigations should be conducted; information should be published; perpetrators should be punished. The more time passes, the fewer are excuses why this is not done,” emphasized Yevheniya Andriyuk, “Crimea SOS” activist.
The most likely contenders to house the museum are the “Ukrainian House” and the section on 3/5 Instytutska Str., although the latter is still in doubt because of lawsuits against it. Theoretically, this could be part of the premises of the Kyiv City State Administration. The main problem of all issues related to the museum is a lack of coordination and communication between public initiatives and the government.
What is most important is that civil society should continue to act
The activists stressed that it is very important not to lose supply of enthusiasm, zeal and sense of responsibility for our future, which originated on Maidan. “Now the main thing is to save a sense of responsibility and willingness to go further. I hope this Maidan, no matter how it may be named, has become for us the final stage of social maturation. Instead of being people who live in some state and “this state owes something to us,” we should be part of the state, those who create this state, and the state will satisfy us to the extent that we have invested in its creation,” stressed Anastasiya Gaidukevych.
“If we want to foster these values, the main thing is that we should start doing. If we do not do everything that depends on us to have this done effectively, then a question arises: what was the purpose of Maidan and what people in the east are dying for?” stressed Tamila Tasheva. She noted that despite the disappointment and fatigue, it is important to maintain a meaningful dialogue while putting pressure on the power and system as well as to remind them that they should justify the mandate of trust given to them.
“The duty of every citizen is to be interested in what is happening, and to understand the truth and a lie. Not only Berkut units are to blame. Our indifference in the past resulted in that situation. […] If we do not draw conclusions, do not overcome our laziness and do not begin to pay more attention to society, to each other and to the state, there may be even worse situation,” emphasized Igor Guryk.