Maidan / Maidan News Ukrainian Site

26-10-2004 21:19 Maidan-INFORM
“Maidan” – An Internet Hub of Civil Resistance of Ukraine

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“Maidan” – An Internet Hub of Civil Resistance of Ukraine

How it started

“Maidan” was started on Internet on Dec 20th 2000 as a reaction to government's efforts to block information distribution about the political opposition activities and to spread the misinformation about the civil protest actions, caused by the disappearance of the journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

The site “Maidan” has been initially created by Georgiy Gongadze's friends, journalists, programmers and the activists of "tents protest action" that had been held at central maidan ("the Square" in Ukrainian) of Ukrainian's capital city Kyiv. “Maidan” was an official information site of "Ukraine without Kuchma" protest action.

At that time the Ukrainian officials had tried to obstruct the free information flow of other Ukrainian internet publications. That helped the decision to move the site “Maidan” to a server outside of Ukraine. In cases of other sites downtime, information about the protests was distributed exclusively by “Maidan” which made it impossible for authorities to hide the facts about the protests completely.

When the protests faded out, “Maidan” had evolved into a new quality becoming a kind of collective mind that gathers information, produces and discusses new political and civil ideas as well as provides the feedback from the politicians.

At present “Maidan” has live exclusive news feed, a library, the most popular discussion forums in Ukraine devoted to the politics, the legislation and the human rights, religion, culture, Ukrainian language, etc.

For almost 4 years “Maidan” tops the "Politics" web-ratings, consistently ahead of sites of powerful political organizations like Victor Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine", "Julia's Tymoshenko Block", SDPU (u), and Committee of Electors of Ukraine. Recently (October 2004) we have been having about 10 000 visitors a day.

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“Maidan” is evolving into an independent intellectual center of Civil Society Formation in Ukraine.

From the cyber space into a real life

From the very first days “Maidan” had the tradition of direct interactive communication or members with politicians and civil activists via the Internet.

With time some site contributors had volunteered to meet each other in person, made contacts with the politicians and the admin group. Thus “Maidan” is forming a mixed real-virtual environment - the networked structure of people of different political views united by the vision of truly independent, democratic, just and prosperous Ukraine.

That self-organized environment embraces both people meeting each other in real life and individuals whom nobody yet met in person and who are writing under aliases. There are people who never got on the Internet and know about “Maidan” from site printouts only, like the students of Kyiv Mohyla Academy who are publishing the do-it-yourself newsletter "Maidan-Mohylyanka" using both the logo and principles of “Maidan”.

The principles of Maidan: an environment with a networked structure

Maidan's environment is formed by people of different age and gender, ideology and religion, members of different parties and not affiliated with any of them. These people do praise the values of democracy and open civil society, dismiss the extremist ideologies, racial and national hatred and xenophobia. Most of them are not planning any political career for themselves.

“Maidan” uses theoretical background of resistance movements outlined by Gene Sharp, Polish "Solidarnost" union, Serbian "Otpor" movement, Belorussian movement ZUBR and the heritage of Ukrainian Anti-Communist movement for Independence before 1991.

Some Practical Projects

For more than 3 years “Maidan” supports political prisoners in Ukraine helping to spread the information about the prison conditions and the state of legal proceedings. “Maidan” organizes fundraising events to support the prisoners and their families financially.

“Maidan” participates in non-violent street protests and other actions. Few examples of most recent actions include around the clock safeguarding of Judge's Yuri Vasilenko home (the Judge had dared to take the court action against the Ukrainian President Kuchma); the demonstration of support of Belorussian opposition struggle for democracy near the Embassy of Belorussia in Kyiv.

“Maidan” initiated an open letter that protested the project of re-writing Ukrainian history handbooks with the aim of pleasing the Russian Federation establishment. Thousands of signatures of Ukrainian historians and intellectuals were collected. As a result, Ukrainian government had dropped the idea of re-writing the handbooks.

During the Parliamentary elections of 2002 “Maidan” members had supported the political blocks of Victor Yushchenko and Julia Tymoshenko and the Socialist Party of Ukraine; they worked in election committees of opposition candidates. A group of “Maidan” members had implemented the full cycle of election organization in a district, which was labeled as one of the most problematic in the whole Ukraine by the rep. for European Council Mrs. Hanne Severinssen (95th election district). The candidate supported by “Maidan” won. During the re-elections the team of “Maidan” staged a door-to-door information campaign in 18th election district with the aim to prevent the election of a pro-regime candidate. Out of 4 districts, where held, this was the only one with a democratic candidate to win.

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“Maidan” is selects ideas and proposals on current Ukrainian politics and civil life voiced on internet discussion forums and forwards them to the Members of Ukrainian Parliament. Some propositions and ideas had already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

“Maidan” and the media

Based on the copyleft principle “Maidan” encourages the distribution of news and articles in electronic and printed media. “Maidan” is widely quoted and sometimes discussed in Ukrainian media. Ukrainian branch of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty distributes Maidan's materials frequently and dedicated a whole radio show to “Maidan” on Mar 31st.

“Maidan” and its individual members had often been praised in media by opposition leaders and harshly criticized by the government officials.

“Maidan” had been featured in Wired, one of “Maidan” admins has been interviewed for an editorial in "Time" magazine and main TV channels of Germany and Australia.

How it works

The site's operations and the offline actions are funded by personal assets of its administrators and through donations of members and site's visitors. Despite limited financial contributions, “Maidan” maintains its independence. “Maidan” has no owner; it is not controlled by any political force and is not restricted by a particular ideology.

“Maidan” has no HQ and no assets, the Internet operations are performed from home computers and internet cafes.

Maidan's operations are provided by volunteers who administer the server, maintain the software, write and edit news and articles, moderate topical forums, produce the photos. Our members are Ukrainians evenly distributed on the globe, thus providing the additional reliability and security. In case of political repressions against members in Ukraine, the operations of “Maidan” will be carried on without interruption by its members abroad.

In its own unique way “Maidan” secures the freedom of speech in Ukraine. Its existence makes pointless the efforts to impose harsh censorship upon other internet publications: whatever happens, “Maidan” informs about everything!

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