3 Years After Maidan: Changing Lives On A Local Level
21 February, 2017

Three years after the tragic events of the Revolution of Dignity that took place in Kyiv, some of its activists are yet to give up on the ideals they fought for back in 2014. They still commemorate those who died for them. They continue to fight for truth, justice and a better life for all Ukrainians. Hromadske has published a series of stories about people for whom the revolution of 2014 has not yet ended.

Sasha Melnyk came to Kyiv in 2014 from the small town of Boguslav in the Kyivskiy region.  He came to the Maidan at the very beginning and stayed right to the end, providing medical help to  the wounded during the shootings on 18-20th February. After the ex-president of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych fled to Russia, Sasha had an important decision to make; either stay in Kyiv or return to Boguslav. ‘I decided to go home and change something on a regional level’, he states.

Earlier in 2007 he and his associates founded the NGO ‘Buslav-Sich’. Young people actively joined the group during the revolution, and eventually part of the organization transformed into political movement. Today it has 5 deputies (out of 26) in the city council. 

The current list of achievements reached by the ‘Buslav-Sich’ founders:
-    Issued the newspaper “Hromadska”; 
-    2 murals were created in Boguslav;
-    Started reconstruction of the Square – the first public space in the town;
-    Launched a summer open-air cinema;
-    Launched the “Center for support of people’s initiatives” (uniting 3 NGOs);
-    Held free training and lectures on community action and political education;
-    Received 5 mandates in the city council (out of 26);
-    Started the procedure to recall deputies.

The recall of local elections was the top item on the ‘Buslav-Sich’ agenda following an amendment passed in 2015 which allows residents to formally petition the recall elections of local deputies. According to ‘Buslav-Sich’ member Oleksiy Repik, ‘As far as I know, in Ukraine, nobody has tried to see how this recall procedure works yet, because the elections under this law only took place in Fall 2015.Deputies have immunity for the first year. Only after a year in office can this procedure be evoked.’

The ‘Buslav-Sich’ co-founders are committed to improving the living standards in the town, beginning with its aesthetic rejuvenation. Murals or famous residents, art-space projects and community outreach programs are among the many initiatives designed to engage the local residents. Local business owners are also keen to contribute to these projects. 

The ‘Buslav-Sich’ co-founders improve the living standards in Boguslav, Boguslav, Ukraine. 17/02/2017

‘One local entrepreneur came to us with the idea to paint the bus stops as he had seen it done in other cities. He was prepared to partially finance it and create something similar in Boguslav.’

Despite the abundant enthusiasm of the co-founders and members, some residents were sceptical about the longevity of the ‘Buslav-Sich’ projects. Oleksiy Repik stated that residents thought: “It looks nice now, but we’re used to things being ruined round here”.

This apathetic attitude of some residents is based on years or distrust and resentment towards local government. It is precisely this attitude the election recall hopes to dispel. 

The sentiment behind the work of the ‘Buslav-Sich’ was undoubtedly founded on the streets of Kyiv during the 2014 protests. As co-founder Sashko Melnyk recalls, ‘on the Maidan, we made a stand because it was the ‘cool’ thing to do, we weren’t going to sit at home and wait for somebody be ‘cool’ on our behalf. We want to influence these processes, to take part in them. More importantly, we are ready to take responsibility for our demands and implement them by ourselves’.

‘Buslav-Sich’ members certainly see their work in Boguslav as part of something much bigger, especially in light of what happened to Ukraine in the winter of 2014. Sashko Melnyk states, ‘I try to follow the principle that we should do everything in our power to make sure those deaths and injuries weren’t in vain. In memory of those people, we should make it so the historians writing books and reports in 10-20 years say: “Those events were tragic, but it changed Ukraine. It became better, more supportive and so on”.’

/By Darka Hirna