Ukrainian graphic designer leads second life on protest square

Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:32am EST
 
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By Gabriela Baczynska

KIEV (Reuters) - By day, Igor Skliarevsky works as a graphic designer. By night, he is an anti-government protester, sometimes manning the barricades in Ukraine's snowy capital.

The 36-year-old delivers maps for fellow protesters, directing them to medical posts or kitchens. He also set up a website coordinating food, warm clothing and other supplies for those camped out on Kiev's Independence Square.

The demonstrations began over the government's decision to spurn a trade deal with the European Union but grew after November 30 when police beat young protesters with batons. Now they are campaigning to oust President Viktor Yanukovich and his team.

"If we don't stand up to this, the people in power will cement themselves there for years, jail opponents and dissenters, and there will be no fair elections, nothing. This is not about Europe anymore, it's a matter of survival and human dignity," Skliarevsky said.

Protesters want Yanukovich to go because they fear having turned away from the EU he will "sell" Ukraine to Russia for money to pay Kiev's debts.

Skliarevsky was among many who brought gloves, clothes and food to the Maidan, the nickname now given to the square where protesters are camped out in freezing temperatures, on December1 after a long night of scuffles between protesters and police.

He quickly set up a website - www.galas.org.ua - to bring together requests from the Maidan with people outside ready to offer their resources and time. It has up to 10,000 users and ensures 10 metric tons of firewood are delivered every day.

The square - actually an oval-shape covering about 1.5 hectares - is also dotted with signposts he has made in yellow and blue, the colors of Ukraine's national flag.   Continued...

 
Igor Skliarevsky and his wife Elena attend a pro-European meeting at Independence Square in Kiev, December 16, 2013. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko