Almost five hours my little marshrutka needed to make the way from Ternopil to Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). The reason is not the distance (175 km) but the conditions of Ukrainian roads. It’s nice to be back in Czernowitz, it’s almost like coming home. Here too, the protest movement is active.
When I leave the hotel in the late afternoon for a walk, I see from afar that a crowd has gathered in front of the town hall. I walk over and speak to the people. The crowd calls for the resignation of the mayor, tells me a young woman.
Actually Czernowitz has no real mayor. The last elected mayor was removed from office several years ago by the regional administration and replaced by a “first secretary of the city council” who is loyal to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Elections have since then not been held. After the regional administration has been stormed by protesters and the governor chased from office, the wrath of people is now directed against the “first secretary” as a representative of the central government.
I walk to the regional administration, everything is quiet there. The shattered windows have been covered provisionally.
I take the advice of my friend Mimi, a native of Czernowitz, and strengthen me with a herring. Then I walk along the Kobylanska Street. The recently opened “Paul Celan Culture Centre” is already closed down. From the Polish National House comes wonderful singing. It hits me again and again to the heart of how beautiful the city is.
At the Town Hall Square, the crowd has grown. The mood is also not as relaxed as before. Chants sound across the square, someone is talking through a megaphone to the demonstrators. The meeting of the city council is still going on, tell me two young women. The city council members of the Party of Regions, who previously supported the “first secretary” left the party. People are impatient, the chants are getting louder.
On the other side of the square some militants gathered, equipped with helmets, face masks and nightsticks. All of them are very young. I walk over to them and quickly find someone who speaks English. They are still waiting for instructions from their commander, says the young man. They gathered because there are rumors that armed gangs are on the way to the city to attack the demonstrators. However, this had been just a rumor so far. But the militants prepare to defend the protesters. Whether he means the riot police, I ask him. No, he says. The local units of militia and notorious special forces of “Berkut” have already stated that they were standing on the side of the demonstrators. They would not intervene. In fact, I have not seen police either in Lviv, Ternopil nor here.
While we talk, cheering sounds from the direction of town hall. Apparently, the “first secretary” acknowledged the service.
Back at the hotel I learn about today’s events in Kyiv. After an explosion on Maidan, the situation has escalated again. More than 60 dead are suspected. Another black day for Ukraine.
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