THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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
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.
Euromaidan, Dec. 15, 2013.