Belarusian blogger Aleksandr Ivulin recently interviewed countryman and former Arsenal Kyiv player Aleksandr Danilov – who lives in the Ukrainian capital with his family – about life in the city now. The interview is translated below.
Do you feel calm in Kyiv?
Totally. The disorder and all the happenings are only in the city centre. The other areas are living a calm and well-measured life. You don’t feel anything unusual. Of course, a lot of sensation has been created around Euromaidan: everybody is discussing it. People are going to work as usual, though: schools, nurseries, shops and other organisations are working as they always do.
Have you ended up at Euromaidan at any point?
I haven’t been to the protests. I’m trying to sort out things that are more important to me [translator’s note: Danilov is currently without a club]. However, I have had to pass through the city centre in my car.
What did you see?
People in helmets and camouflage, broken tiles, burning tyres. The situation doesn’t give you any positive feelings – I don’t even know what to say about it. I’m with the Ukrainian people in the current situation! But let’s not touch on political issues.
OK. Is it possible to drive around the centre of Kyiv normally?
I haven’t been in the city for three days [Danilov recently travelled from Ukraine to Belarus, and was there when the interview took place]. Before that you could get along Kreshchatyk or Grushevsky without any difficulty. However, friends have told me soldiers and the security forces are beginning to block these routes. It’s not easy to get there anymore.
Have you witnessed any disorder in Kyiv?
When I drove past the demonstrators during the daytime everything was calm. Normally they get more active closer to night-time. Fights between civilians and the security forces are frightening.
Do you tell your wife and children to stay at home in the evenings?
I’m not worried – they understand the situation. When I arrived in Belarus my parents – having watched television – were terrified for me. They asked how I could still live there with a war going on. A lot of Belorussians are afraid of going on holiday via Kyiv. They don’t need to be afraid of anything. If you live in the Left Bank area of Kyiv you can’t hear anything at all. I should add that the Ukrainian people are not indifferent to the fate of the nation. Many Kyivans join in the protests, though life in the city hasn’t changed at all. There’s no chaos in Kyiv. The interest in and sensation around Euromaidan has been caused by the media.
Fine, if that’s the case. How do you relate to the fact that the Lobanovsky Stadium has suffered serious damage during the protests?
Euromaidan has mixed everything together: football, politics….though I’m more concerned for those who are fighting for their views, for the will of the people. They are getting injured, risking their health and sometimes their lives. There have been several fatalities during the protests. This is terrible! Streets, stadiums and pavements can all be restored. Nobody is even thinking about this. The cost of their repair is nothing in comparison to human lives.
A Belarusian has died at Euromaidan…
One opinion is that he shouldn’t have gone there. But every person can do whatever he deems necessary. It is every individual’s personal business whether they go to Euromaidan or not. Some believe it is necessary to go and support the Ukrainian people – that’s normal. Some don’t want to do that – they stay home and watch from the sidelines. That’s also normal. I wish it would all end soon. The main thing is that there is no threat to human life. Such trivialities as, for example, the renaming of ‘Berkut’ ice hockey club to ‘Phoenix’, are of little importance.
The protests have lasted for more than two months. Is Ukraine tired from this?
The people are tired from a difficult life and the country’s leadership. Kyiv’s residents are not debating whether they’re tired or not. Ukrainians are fighting for one common cause. They want the government to hear them, for something in the country to finally change. I haven’t once heard someone saying they are sick of standing on Maidan. Now Ukrainians are united. They are helping one another and trying to change their lives for the better.
Do you support Euromaidan?
Everyone has their own view of the situation. I don’t absorb myself in politics. It’s true that I support the people of Ukraine. You could say that I am a part of them. However, I’m not judging the sides in the current conflict.
Russian speakers may be interested in the original interview, which is here.
Aleksandr’s blog (also in Russian) can be found here.
Saul Pope is a blogger on Ukrainian and Russian football and contributor to ‘When Saturday Comes’ magazine. He can be followed on Twitter.