“Paper Bullets” 50 (Ukraine) Euromaidan protests, 2013-2014
- in "Paper Bullets" exhibition, all
The Euromaidan (Євромайдан, Yevromaidan, “Eurosquare”) was formed through continuous acts of civil disobedience by Ukrainian citizens and began on the night of November 21, 2013, in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) is the central square in Kiev and the primary location for the Revolution of Dignity. Demonstrations and civil unrest called for the resignation of the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, and for closer European integration.
Many Ukrainians identify with the European Union, not Russia. The blue stickers with stars mirror the logo for the European Union, and the two in the center feature a play on words. The letters “ми” signify “we,” and “є” can mean “are” or “exist.” In this case, the latter points to the EU and its currency. Therefore, the message is not only “we exist,” but also “we = European Union.”
Спільна справа (Common Cause) is a civic movement that was formed in early 2014 and led by lawyer and civil rights activist Oleksandr Danylyuk. Part of the Euromaidan, this opposition group denounced the corrupt government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych by occupying several important government offices in the Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The document in the sticker is a utility bill but such payments may also refer to taxes, etc. The message is declaring that no payments (of any kind) should go to a corrupt president and/or government. The sticker features an image of a Ukrainian citizen giving the finger to the government of Yanukovych, and the logo of Common Cause.
Self-Defense (of) Maidan—Without Masks and Without Bats. These stickers may be from the earlier stages of the revolution when protesters tried to remain entirely peaceful, and masks and bats were associated with pro-Yanukovich thugs called Titushki. Later, Maidan self-defense forces had to take on arms as well.
The orange Come and Join Us +1 features a message by an opposition group calling for Ukrainian citizens to come to the square and show support for the anti-government protests and demonstrations.
The clasping hands logo of the civic movement Common Cause is portrayed in these two stickers. One sticker proclaims that the Maidan protesters will not leave the Square until President Yanukovich resigns. The second affirms the group’s stance against corruption, I am here—not for the money!
A political party sticker from the Democratic Alliance features an image of the former President behind prison and exclaims, Yanukovich Should Be Put Under Arrest!
People were doing their best to keep the Maidan and surrounding grounds as clean and tidy as possible; such efforts ultimately helped coin the term “Revolution of Dignity.”
Son, Do Not Kill People. This message dissuades the Ukrainian military and police forces from going against their own people. A mother pleads with her soldier son not to kill or harm other Ukrainians.
Berkutushiki combines Berkut (in English, War Eagle, the name of Ukraine’s discredited riot police unit that was disbanded in February 2014 by the new interim government which by the end of the month was led by acting prime minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk) with titushki, a collective name for government-paid provocateurs dressed in civilian clothing who work behind the scenes with Berkut. Berkutushki have been deemed responsible for destroying the property of peaceful demonstrators and protesters and have a reputation for the kidnap, torture, and murder of political activists. One sticker in this group is distributed by Демократичний Альянс (Україна) [the Democratic Alliance (Ukraine)] and features the image of a crouching law enforcement official dressed in riot gear and holding a baton. The universal “no” symbol overlays the figure. In another sticker, a hand makes the “V for victory” sign, with the text Only victory will do, encouraging protesters to remain steadfast in their resolve against authoritarianism.
Special thanks to Arline Wolfe and Carole Mathey at St. Lawrence University for their research and writing assistance.