A reflection on the Euromaidan events and the crisis in Ukraine

Barricade at Institutska street, Kiev, December 2013

After a truly eventful winter and spring in Ukraine, the summer is still providing the world with headlines from a conflict-ridden Ukraine. The last few months they are however concentrated in origin mainly to the country´s mostly Russian speaking, heavy industry intense Donbass region. This is far away from Odessa, but we have been in the midst of some of the previous crucial events or have friends and relative who have got a little bit too close to their liking to other events.

However, a few truths about conflicts and events that turn into big global or at least international news can always be established. It is actually often perceived by a distant TV-viewer as something much worse and bigger than it usually is in reality for the people who are in the midst of the process, or at least standing next to it. A very interesting study was carried out in the US after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013. It actually turned out that people who consumed lots of media regarding the terror attack got more stressed about it than people who were at the actual site of the bombings!

The study can be read here: “six or more daily hours of bombing-related media exposure in the week after the bombings was associated with higher acute stress than direct exposure to the bombings”

As I remember Euromaidan, a gloomy regular Kiev winter day

The same things can in many ways be said about the events in Ukraine. I personally lived in Kiev during the Euromaidan and could get more worried about what was going on by following Kyivpost and Ukrainska Pravdas live coverage than by actually walking down to Maidan and see things with my own eyes. Luckily I did spend some time on Maidan and have my own view of the mass movement that really was there. I worked centrally in Kiev and used to go down to Maidan during lunch time and sometimes after work to get my own impression. During the last brutal days of Euromaidan I was however not on Maidan itself.

During the events here in Odessa on the 2nd of May we had difficulties understanding what all of sudden happened just a few blocks away and the high number of dead shocked the citizens, but the reactions here were probably not the ones a distant media consumer could anticipate. After the events here it has been very calm and a clear pro-Ukrainian government stance has been dominating, in an Odessa slowly moving into its usual relaxed summer mode.

The conclusion is that one always has to make up one’s mind, listen to what people on site say and that the situation on the ground here in Ukraine in many ways has been different for us living here than has been how it could be portrayed in foreign media. We did not walk between burning tanks when we went to work in the mornings and hide in bunkers after work, but that did not mean we took everything seriously and were prepared for a drastic change of the situation to the worse. This change did luckily never come here in Odessa and there is at the moment nothing that indicates that a spread of the violence outside the distant eastern Ukraine is likely. Therefore for us it is business as usual and we do our best to contribute to the struggling Ukrainian economy. Join us indirectly in this if you can!

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