The Blue Bus

or Time to be Heard

Dmitriy Levitskiy

Artwork by Robert Zhao Renhui

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
NATALYA, a mother of five children
ZHENYA, a programmer
MASHA, a student
FYODOR, a trade union activist
GOSHA, a journalist
NADYA, a communication manager
INNA, a public activist
GRYTS', a poet


November 30: The Crackdown

MASHA: (speaking Ukrainian) Before this, traditionally we all were like valorous kitchen revolutionists protesting in flats, but some line was drawn, it was the last straw, when it was just impossible not to come out on streets. My Granny told me once that when she was a little girl, she hoed beets in the field, and just went on and on in the field, having left others behind. Some women cried to her something like: "Marusya! Leave it!", and she said: "Why?", — "The war has started!". Here is the same thing. We woke up in the morning, and Klyopa said to me: "We've overslept the revolution. The revolution has begun".

GOSHA: (speaking Russian) It was Saturday in Mikhailovskaya square, about five o'clock in the evening. On Saturday, there was a very furious protest, not organized by anyone: without politics, without stage, without anything. There was a huge energy boost, kind of unreal. And I was standing in the Mikhailovskaya, and there was such a sunset, indeed. So red, scarlet, as if some nuclear bomb exploded. And I was standing in the Mikhailovskaya square, looking in the direction of the Sophiivskaya (square). Probably, the poetry exists to express such things, because otherwise it's very difficult to express them. Enormous number of very fierce people. You could see that many of them had lost their nerve. You see that one is adequate, but a person can't bear it anymore, standing in a crowd and suddenly begins to yell. Cold air, empty Home Office across the street, not a policeman in the square, and on the other side, in some two hundred meters — the Sophiivskaya church belfry, the Khmelnitskiy monument, and so perfectly red, scarlet sky. And dusk is falling. The strongest impression, wow! At that time, I realized it was not just a protest anymore.


December 1: Storming of President Administration on Bankovaya Street

GOSHA: (speaking Russian) I remember another thing. I'm going down the Kreshchatik Street. Occupied buildings, crowds of people, not a policeman, again. And I'm going down the Kreshchatik, and I have such a certain feeling – the specific one. I think many people also felt that there. The feeling of your own power, which is not quite adequate. Some feeling either of impunity, the anarchical one... or such endless freedom.

ZHENYA: (speaking Russian)  A few days later I came to the Kiev City Council again, and there was already in the session hall, ummm – its part was separated off – and then ordinary people were not allowed there. Well, I thought I would talk with those guards about something like, you see, in a week you would block the entrance to the Kiev City Council completely, and what would be in a month? Well, it is a question of how to kill a dragon and not become one yourself?


December 11: The Crackdown

INNA: (speaking Ukrainian) All material stuff was kept away, all stayed overnight at Maidan at that time. And it was rather late, you know, they came about twanty or twenty five minutes after midnight. At midnight I finished my work, well, then our friends also joined us, and then I said: "Ok, let's kind of talk about some rubbish or something for these twenty minutes". And we just, well, a lot of acquaintances and kindred spirits were there, so we got even to cut up such incredible things, you know. And some guy told how he wanted to stick a piggy, to try all by himself. And he told how they ran and ran after it. Then there were kind of such other stories about how they took kinda all that silly pics with girls' cam. And I said, "Twenty minutes more and I'm going home to sleep, as I've got knocked up anyway." Just then Berkut descended.

MASHA: (speaking Ukrainian) I came in the building of the Kyiv City Council. There was already a full alert, guys standing, ranging themselves, fire hoses already hauled down from the windows to hose people down, boxes of oil to pour on staircase, if Berkut starts running, some tables, some wire stretched on the staircase, well, that is full alert.

I saw adult men in a crying jag saying: "Damn, they 'gonna kill us now, they 'gonna kill us now!". In fact, it was like that, we were cracking. Though in general all held their own there.


Work. Volunteering. Activism.

INNA: (speaking Ukrainian) Besides, you should know that the people at Maidan don't just stand there, but they stand at their own cost. I took an unpaid vacation for two weeks. My boss also came there; he participated in Maidan in 2004. He came and saw the conditions I was in; he came to Maidan with his friends, actually. So when he saw the lie-in in front of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine, when he saw me in some interview, you know, he called me then and said, "Well, I'll pay you up to the New Year for that you're not just hanging out at Maidan, but helping guys to get free".

MASHA: (speaking Ukrainian) Time shrinks, and you, well... Well, firstly, you forget about homemade food, you just don't have any time to cook at home. Your schedule is like, for example, you spend the night at Maidan, at seven in the morning you leave Maidan, come home, take a shower, and you realize that you already have to go to Mohyla Uni. Besides that, when you come home at seven in the morning, you say to yourself honestly that no-no-no, now after Mogylyanka I'll go home to have a sleep. But from the Kontraktova Station you go back, and as I live in the Holosiivo District, then it's the Kontraktova Station and Maidan is on the way. And before this you promised yourself on oath that no-no-no, I'll go and sleep off, I really want to sleep. But you're passing Maidan, and you just can't... You go out and say to yourself: "Well, I'll just have a cup of coffee, just stand and watch, for no reason, well, some five minutes". And finally, at seven in the morning... You always find some work for yourself. During these days, it was like starting from picking up trash, when we gathered some twenty sacks of trash, and finishing with me making sandwiches, coordinating some water, firewood supply, helping in press center, helping in infocenter. In fact, Maidan is good, 'cause a person can pick himself or herself scope of activities.


Maidan

NATALYA: (speaking Russian) Well then, there really is everything inside of us, people ask for nothin. I'm just the same, I come and think — there was still a lot of snow then — think it'd be good to shovel it away. I was walking, found some kinda stick, began to crush. Then others came, then a shovel appeared. The process started, and we then were crushing and crushing. So, all this is inside of us. And here, up here from Zhovtnevyi Palace they handed sacks down. I did liked that. It goes down the hill, then they catch it, and then hand it farther down. I saw something like this in Taiga, they cut and rolled down woods like that. The log goes down the chute the same way, and here it is sacks.

GRYTS': (speaking Ukrainian) We were creating music playlists for Euromaidan, you know, the songs that would have been played in honour of the European Integration. And FUCK! All of those songs were sharovary-style Cossack crap! And then we had all that fucking shit, you know, like Orange Revolution anthem "Together we are many" along with cheap folk "viburnum is not a willow" and schlub pop like "it's a sad, sad world" and the rest of such depressing bullshit. Then that fucking song "Merry times now, brothers!" by Okean Elsy about disappointment in The Orange Revolution. Don't even get me started on the hymn Polozhynskyi wrote! You, bitches, grab the collector book of Cossack Dumas (Cossack epic songs), and you'll find at least three hundred of them there!!! What the fuck is Euphoria duet doing on the stage?!

GOSHA: (speaking Russian) Actually, I'm an unorganized person myself, so for me some social time, structured by some periods, some repeating actions, it is important for me, in fact, and it helps me keep within limits, well, some structured life. And when this trash began, even this time went to pieces, that is I am not in my editorial office all the time. The essence of every protest like that is in people showing they can subjugate their time and space for themselves.

MASHA: (speaking Ukrainian) When I was holding the barricades, probably for several scores of times I heard that... Among men, who turn around, you know, you stand with them shoulder to shoulder, hold those barricades, and they turn around, you know, looking into your face: "Oh, you're a woman! Get away!". And it happened all the time, but I had a simple answer: "First of all, I'm a citizeness, and we have equal rights, old fellow, read the Constitution".

It's such a small republic – a country in a country. Recently, some Russian journalist compared this to Zaporiz'ka Sich, like it's kind of outlaws, well, it's a bit not like that, but it's probably the first country in my life, in which I can live kind of really comfortable.

FYODOR: (speaking Russian) Being here... Especially the second or third evening, the smaller door by the central entry is being closed, and though you feel a part of Maidan, but kind of autonomous. And I'm not a religious person; I feel sentiments neither about religion, nor about churches. But somehow this church atmosphere, this closedness, seems to press upon me. And if you were here, imagine... Well, for example, last night, when I went to bed, I hugged Natasha, I started seeing some flashes before my eyes. The flashes of the picture similar to what we're seeing right now, yeah. The monastery wall, the black sky and golden domes, somewhere nearby. And I felt uneasy, 'cause before that I had shared a feeling with Natasha, that when I turn off the light at night, take off my clothes and go to bed, I put my clothes on the table, I mean on the chair, not on the table, beside my bed, I feel like I'm still standing here and rummaging through stuff in the darkness, in the dusk, trying to define something by touch, to fold something up. If here it's OK for me, then at home I begin to feel frightened in such moments. Somewhat uneasy. I don't know why it impresses me that much, though I don't feel it here. These flashes yesterday frightened me somehow, 'cause, well, gosh, it's real madness that is happening here, something crazy. All these people walking here, some kind of weird atmosphere, kind of internal ethics, and even somewhat established routine! Some kind of unspoken ideological ground accepted by everyone par défaut. There's lots of madness in all this, you know, there is always lots of madness! Well, not as some revolutionary expectation. I don't know what people felt in Tahrir square, or in Taksim square at night, or what revolutionary sailors felt sitting near the bonfire in the time of the civil war after the revolution of 1917... Probably, something like this.


The End

translated from the Ukrainian and Russian by The VERBatsiya project

Edited by Tina Cintron