Kiev’s mayor took part in clearing away some of the barricades erected by Maidan protesters in the city’s main square. He said he had reached a deal with the activists to free the area. Hours later the activists started burning tires in protest.
Satruday’s cleaning drive in Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan, comes amid the long-time confrontation between the city administration and activists of the protest movement, who have been holding the square since November last year and refuse to leave despite the toppling of the previous government.
This Thursday, an attempt to dismantle the tent camp from Maidan triggered violent clashes between the protesters and police. The activists seized some bulldozers and cranes, which city workers intended to use in the cleaning.
The city announced a ‘subbotnik’, or a voluntary clean-up drive for Saturday, with many Kiev residents tired of the protest camp in their neighborhood showing up. Mayor Vitaly Klitschko participated, tossing several wooden pallets into a truck on camera.
Klitschko later showed up on TV to announce that his administration has reached a deal with the protest leaders on dismantling the barricades. This didn’t stop some activists from verbally abusing workers and other people involved in the clean-up. On one occasion they set fire to a barricade of tires, but the blaze was extinguished by fire crews.
Maidan camp residents say they will not leave the square completely because they want the new Ukrainian authorities to remember how they got into power and be accountable to the people. The Maidan protest movement turned violent and led to an armed coup in February, which ousted the legitimate Ukrainian government and replaced it with the politicians currently in power.