Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“The protesters were manipulated”

Artem Slipachuk, The Day’s photographer, tells about the “bloody Monday” when he was working at the epicenter of events near Verkhovna Rada
8 September, 2015 - 11:27
Photo by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day

The most tragic topic of the passing week was the fight outside the parliament on Monday, August 31, when the deputies approved the first reading of the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. After provocations on behalf of the activists who opposed the constitutional changes, a clash erupted between the National Guard soldiers, who were ensuring the order nearby the parliament building, and the radical thugs. The latter used stones, bottles, firecrackers, and even grenades. As a result, more than a hundred National Guard officers were injured. Three had died. The police had qualified this event as a terrorist attack. However, the leaders of political parties who rallied the violent young people near Verkhovna Rada, accused the authorities.

Artem Slipachuk, The Day’s photographer, was working in the Parliament during these events. From the explosions of firecrackers he suffered burned arms and abdomen. How did the events unfold, and what did the journalist feel as in the city center, like in the past year, explosions went off before his eyes and people were killed?

“Once Hroisman adjourned the session, a fight erupted on the street near the parliament. We, journalists and photographers who had been working in the press box, immediately rushed to the epicenter of events. But we could not leave the building – security officers and the National Guard had closed the entrance to the parliament,” says Artem Slipachuk. “And they strongly recommended us not to go outside. Some colleagues began filming the incident directly through windows. I rushed to look for an alternative way out of the parliament, as I could not miss the event. Going through a side door on Hrushevskoho Street, I had to work my way behind the backs of the National Guard. It turned out that I occupied the place that allowed me to capture the best view on the violent protesters’ attack. Initially, they began hurling bottles, stones, and firecrackers towards the officers... One of the firecrackers burned my arm and stomach. Only taking into account the experience I got at Maidan, I decided to withdraw to a safe distance immediately. A few minutes after I walked away, someone threw a grenade...”

According to Artem, it was clear that the aggravated protesters were manipulated by someone. In the moments when the tension seemed to subside, certain people were shouting from the crowd: “The third Maidan,” “Take Rada by force!”

“The Day’s photographers worked almost day and night during the Maidan events, and then continuously travelled to the east afterwards... Aside of the important skill of capturing a photo, personal security has always been our main concern,” continues Artem. “On Maidan we had personal protective equipment – namely helmets, vests, goggles... Near Verkhovna Rada, certainly, we had nothing like that. We came to shoot a session meeting. It is terrible that the country after these tragic events on Maidan, the country during the war in the east has politicians who want to manipulate and heat the mood of the crowd in order to gain dividends at the elections.”

By Vadym LUBCHAK, The Day