Tens of thousands of Ukrainians, bearing European Union flags and chanting “down with the gang!” marched through Kiev on Sunday in a pro-Europe rally denouncing President Viktor Yanukovich’s U-turn in policy back towards Russia. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
I’m on the Square! Where are you?
You wouldn’t necessarily expect the European Union to be such a rallying cry in Ukraine, but Ukrainians are so enraged by a government decision to suspend trade deal negotiations with the EU that they have been rallying protesters under the hashtag #євромайдан (“European Square”). Opposition demonstrations were held in the cities of Donetsk, Ivano-Frankovsk, Lutsk, Uzhgorod and Lviv. Kiev’s Independence Square is a focal point for protests – just as it was during 2004’s so-called Orange Revolution. Back then, protesters were bolstered not just by their strength in numbers but also by SMS messages: mobile phones were key for organising protests, avoiding police cordons and ordering supplies. Now, the protests are mostly being galvanised by social media. Ukrainian digital marketing expert Maksym Savanevskyy says there has been an explosion of calls-to-arms online since the government’s decision on EU talks.
This video, dated November 22, was taken a day after the Ukrainian government U-turn, saying that it would instead look to revive talks with Moscow. A large crowd turned out at Maidan Nezalezhnosti to protest the decision, and the protests have continued since.
This footage shows the scene near Independence Square on November 25 as thousands took part in demonstrations.
Five tips from Serbian group Canvas*
- Do your homework – analyse the pillars of support you want to pull on your side (“pillars” refer to institutions and organisations that are crucial for non-violent social change)
- Come out with a clear vision and your strategy for your struggle – and don’t listen to foreign advice
- Build unity within a movement – unity of purpose, unity of people and unity within the organisation
- Maintain non-violent discipline – one single act of violence can destroy the credibility of your struggle
- Keep on the offensive, pick the battles you can win and make sure you know when and how to proclaim each victory
* Canvas: A group of Serbian activists which founded the Centre for Applied NonViolent Strategies, better known as Canvas, an organisation that trains activists around the world in how to successfully overthrow a dictatorship.
Canvas says it only works with groups with no history of violence: for example, they have refused to work with Hamas or Hizbollah. But they count Georgia, Ukraine and the Maldives (where they helped dissidents end the 30-year rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom) as success stories, and work with activists from nearly 50 other countries, including Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, Venezuela, Belarus and, recently, Tunisia and Egypt.
Canvas is run by two best friends from the Otpor days, Srdja Popovic, 38, and Slobodan Djinovic, 36.
|Canvas founders Slobodan Djinovic and Srdja Popovic in front of the well-known logo
Djinovic founded Serbia’s first wireless internet provider and gives half of what he earns to keep Canvas afloat. (The other half comes from various NGOs and the UN.) They were 18 and 16 when the savage Yugoslav wars began in 1991, old enough to know that they needed to get rid of Milosevic. Now, they want to take their knowledge and pass it on to the world.
This is done with a staff of “four and a half”, dozens of trainers around the world and an office on Gandhiova (as in Gandhi) Street in New Belgrade. In one corner sits a Canvas worker who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Tunisia aimed at helping the new leaders into a peaceful transition post-Ben Ali. There is a whiteboard listing places they are targeting next.
It looks more like a Seattle coffeehouse than a revolutionaries’ hive. How, I ask them, have they managed to spread the word from this tiny space to Tahrir Square? Why are people talking about them in Yemen and Algeria?
“When people hear the Serbs are coming,” laughs Popovic, “they want to see us, they want to hear how we did it. We can tell them what worked with us, what did not work in Georgia, what worked in Ukraine. We feel a responsibility to share our knowledge.”
from FT via @lissnup