Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

Protesters Douse Special Police

Special police forces, known as Berkut, began to dismantle barricades late last night. But the protesters pushed back, and kept Berkut at bay until daybreak. As the day grew lighter, more people rushed into the center to provide support. We were among them.

By the time we arrived, it was possible to get into the middle of the square. Berkut officers were only a few meters from us. The did not look energized. I'm sure they had a miserable night.

The protest leaders then said that Berkut was attacking the Kyiv City Administration building, which has been occupied by protesters. The crowd moved quickly to defend the building. By the time we got there, a large crowd stood in front of the building, surrounding Berkut buses that had been parked in front of the entrance.

Then a stream of water cut through the air from one of the windows. The protesters inside were hosing down Berkut officers, who took refuge inside their buses. Protesters waved flags from the windows and continued spraying Berkut. A line of regular police officers nearby did nothing to help the besieged Berkut officers. In fact, they opened up their ranks to let people get to the site more quickly.

A short time later, all Berkut left the area to the sound of cheers from the people. At night, the mood was jovial. The protesters rebuilt the barricades. This time, they added snow to the mix and watered it down so it would freeze solid.

Music and speeches continued. The message is getting more focused with time. The protest is about ideas now, not about people or specific grievances. Ukrainians want a clean break from the corrupt kleptocracy that has governed them. All Putin can offer is more of the same, but from Moscow rather than Donetsk.

For now the protesters are well defended. Their morale is high. I am optimistic again.