Earlier during the protests, life in Kiev went on as usual. Streets were full of people doing their daily errands. Stores, restaurants and cafes along the downtown avenue near the Maidan stayed open. The protest camp even became a daily attraction for many residents.
That all changed sharply this week, as clashes between protesters and police turned into urban warfare. The sound of police stun grenades echoed across the Maidan and heavy black smoke from burning tires, which protesters set to block the way to police, filled Kiev’s skies.
The subway shut down, schools and most offices in central Kiev were closed and streets became empty. People across the city rushed to get cash and buy staples. Most downtown restaurants and cafes were closed, so finding a place to eat became a real challenge.
But many ordinary people still came to the Maidan, to the front lines with police, bringing food, water and clothes to its exhausted defenders.
“Ukraine’s fate is being decided here — whether we will become part of Europe or slide back,” said Inga Leshchenko, a 67-year-old school teacher who brought homemade food to the protesters.
“Every Ukrainian should help the Maidan,” she said. “I can help by making sandwiches and homemade pies.”