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44

APRIL 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

I

t was civilized, and that’s something that I don’t think

came through very easily in the pictures and the news

stories. It was very civilized in the face of a lot of violence,

in the face of a lot of [what] the government threw at

them, in the face of horrible weather—I mean, how many

nights was it snowing down there and freezing? People

were universally polite.

The only time I saw people get upset was if the Maidan

self-defense force—basically the self-appointed police

of Maidan—would bounce someone from the barricades

who looked like they might have been drinking, or looked

like they might be an agitator. … [T]here was a high

degree of civility, and almost gentleness, associated with

it, so you’d see art out there on Maidan. Maidan artists

would come and do things; there’d be people playing a

piano. It was an atmosphere that people wanted to be a

part of.

But what was interesting was that the folks who were

there, contrary to pro-government press, were generally

not unemployed. They were regular people who believed

in it strongly enough to go. And at the very end of this

sort of movement, after the politicians had been elected

and moved into office, sure, a lot of people trickled out of

the square, and a fraction of the folks remaining might

not have had anywhere else to go. But especially in the

beginning, we’re talking about well-dressed grandmas and

middle-class folks [there on the square]. ...

The people that stick out in my mind were contacts.

You’d call them up to ask a question related to their busi-

ness or field, and they’d say, “Sorry, I’m not in the office; I

let half of my company go down to Maidan because we’re

all supporting this.”

So my point is that it was civil, it was gentle in a lot of

respects in the beginning, and it involved people in a really

organic manner that I don’t think came across in the inter-

national media, because the pictures that people remem-

ber are burning tires, bands of people moving back and

forth with maybe a cleric holding up a cross. … I mean,

these are really iconic images that will probably win photo

contests for years, but it certainly wasn’t the whole thing.

It wasn’t how it all began.

—Entry-Level Economic Officer Christopher Greller

The Start of the Protest Movement and Its Media Portrayal

ADSTmentoredme on interviewing techniques, and off we

went! I wrote a position description for a summer hire employee

and subsequently hiredMaria Turner, the daughter of our public

affairs counselor, to be my assistant for the project. We then

secured space in the embassy’s media studio, where the ambas-

sador sometimes gave television interviews, and started signing

up interested colleagues. During the summer we completedmore

than 20 interviews, each lasting about an hour, with employees

from across the mission, including State Department and other

agency officers, family members and Locally Employed staff (see

excepts from them in the accompanying boxes).

While I had a basic list of questions to ask every participant,

I tried to keep the conversation as broad as possible. As I antici-

pated, everyone had a preferred way of framing their experience.

Some talked about the political and economic underpinnings

of the revolution; others focused on their roles as supervisors

andmanagers making sure their employees, both American and

Ukrainian, were resilient in the face of an evolving political climate.

And still others focused on their families and how they helped

their children to understand what they were seeing on the streets

through their apartment windows.

DIXOND/WIKIMEDIACOMMONS

Euromaidan, Dec. 15, 2013.