So. This entry is rather personal, at the same time it might be pretty much exemplary for the situation in Ukraine.
Kiev. The story starts on Friday night, to be precise on Saturday early morning. I was walking with a guy from Scandinavia along Khreshchatyk str., maybe 500 meters away from Maidan square. We were in good shape, not completely drunk but quite amused.
A group of maybe three or four police/militia stopped us plus one soldier dressed in camouflage. A officer asked for the passport. I didn’t have it on me, just had my ID card. My mistake, no doubt – stupid me. The police officer who seemed to be in charge, signaled that this is a problem. I agreed. Then I added something like: “Well, em, but you don’t really think that we are Russian terrorists, do you?!” After the term ‘terrorist’ was spoken out, the mood immediately froze around us. Me idiot.
I don’t know why I still felt amused, maybe the alcohol, maybe I tried to cover up that I began to get nervous. To keep the ball rolling, I suggested to go to my place where they could check my passport. He wasn’t happy, said that we have to go to the station. “Ok, you are the boss… em… but if we go to the station, we would have to go to my place later anyway in order to get the passport. So why not going directly to my place?” Meanwhile the soldier and a man in civilian clothes came closer. Before they were standing some meters away watching the scene.
Then, out of nowhere, the officer mentioned that they were standing here all night, that it’s cold and that a coffee would be a nice thing. Ok, the message was sent. We bought coffee for the security forces and for us, drank an talked a bit. I used the opportunity to ask whether it’s normal in Kiev that police and army are securing the area together, or who is in charge, if the man in civilian clothes is SBU and if there is no confusion with overlapping chain of command. They explained in detail, the political scientist in me was fascinated to get those first hand information. After coffee was empty, handshake and bye bye.
On Saturday evening, respectively on Sunday early morning I was walking again on Khreshchatyk str. I spent the night in ‘The Lab’, a really great club with nice people and DJs. I didn’t feel like drinking, so I was quite sober while walking to my place. Maybe 250 meters before Maidan square, same procedure like the day before. “Passport!” I showed my papers (no soldier around this time). Like the day before I demonstratively opened my coat while getting my papers out, showing that I am well dressed and no Punk… took off my cap, showing my shaven skull in order to create some kind of common ground (manipulation for beginners – didn’t work this time either).
I already wanted to move on when he started looking quite serious and asked: “You have drugs, heroin, cocaine?” I denied, told him (a bit grumpy) to search me if he doesn’t believe. He did. After packing my things together, again I made an attempt to move on. Then he told me that his friend had his birthday today and… Ok, now I was pissed, trying hard to curb my anger. The conversation that followed is around two hours ago, it still rings in my ears.
Me: “Whaaat? And now you want a present, right?”
Me: “Ah… sorry if I get angry now, but that’s the same what happened yesterday.”
PO: “It’s cold, we are just doing our job.”
Me: “So ask government to give you present.”
PO: “My friend’s birth…”
Me: “Yes, yes… and if I don’t give present, there is problem, right?” (Both of us starring at my wallet)
PO: “No, no, no problem.”
Me: “Ok, then I give no present… Sorry, I don’t want to get angry… I am quite now.”
PO: “It’s our job to…”
Me: “Ah… This way your friends become enemies… this is not right…”
I think, after this I left the scene. I felt very uncomfortable losing control, especially with no other civilians on the street. While walking I really got angry. After maybe 50 meters I turned around, walked back, pretty quick, fixing the officer and a man in civilian clothes who was suddenly there.
Me: “What are you? Police, militia, MIA?”
Other PO: “What? What is problem?”
Me: “No problem, just question. What unit are you? Police or militia?”
Other PO: “Police.”
So. Don’t get me wrong. I am no Ukrainian and I am in no position to complain. And it’s not my business how Ukraine is governed. And basically I don’t care paying a coffee for some boys, standing all night out in the cold. (Excuse the term ‘boys’, but both days they were maybe half the age of my Scandinavian fellow, I am ten, fifteen years older than they). And I absolutely do not feel angry about them. It is natural that power mixes with ego, especially when you are new in that kind of job, with a probably short period of training and even more after standing out in the cold all night while others have party on Saturday night. (And a small part of the Kiev population is having party as hell.)
What seriously pisses me off is the tendency of eroding rule of law – which these events are in my unqualified understanding a clear indicator for. Right track, wrong direction. Again, it’s not my business and I am quite now. But if you guys seriously think that’s the way to defend your country and to enforce security… let’s put it like this: Surrender to Russia would have the same result in the long run – but fewer would be killed and probably Ukrainians would be ripped off by different oligarchs. This is the most stupid conflict I have ever analyzed.
And I am not that naïve not to realize that those social processes form a kind of natural law (transformation into a failed state) or gravity if you like. But even with gravity it is possible to stand straight.
,,Oft sitzt der Schlamm auf dem Thron – und oft auch der Thron auf dem Schlamme.”