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By Mitchell Parsons
Photos Copyright ©Giles Clarke

Just days before the Vilnius Conference between the European Union and its eastern neighbors, Ukraine’s presidential administration and Cabinet of Ministers abruptly expressed their intention to reject an Association Agreement with the EU despite months of negotiations. Ukrainians responded by taking to the streets of Kyiv to pressure the government to reverse its decision and sign the agreement – these demonstrations are called the “Euromaidan Protests.”

Amid calls for a nationwide general strike, protests grew and reports of violence increased. Despite government violence against journalists, students, and protesters, hundreds of thousands of people continue to populate Independence Square, “Maidan,” the main square in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, to express their frustration with the regime’s ambivalence to the people’s interest in adopting western democratic values.
From the Euromaidan Journalist Collective

By now I’m sure everyone has heard about Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s phone leak and F bomb. Of course Mainstream media is focusing on the F bomb factor rather than what was going on in that phone call. I’m seeing many threads on social media under “news” posts about it and what most people are talking about is the curse word. Do they not realize the real story behind it? That the U.S. administration seems to be trying to incorporate their own puppet government in Ukraine. That four minute phone call revealed a lot and I wonder how many other phone calls just like it have taken place over the last few decades with a regime change agenda.

So, in the spirit of Nuland I say, F*CK the politicians and let’s focus on what’s important – the people on the ground doing the dirty work. The people who are putting themselves on the line for what they believe in. The protests in the Ukraine continue with no sign of letting up. Ten weeks into it and the people are as determined as ever and growing in numbers. Photographer Giles Clarke has been in Kiev since January photographing the events and thanks to his “Notes From the Field” posts on Facebook I’ve been able to keep up with his firsthand point of view on the situation. Giles was kind enough to let me post some of his notes and photos saying he wanted to make a point about the protesters and “how impassioned they are”.

Kiev

‘Faces from the Front line’

January2014

#Euromaidan

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Giles Clarke
©Giles Clarke

“The on-going anti-Ukrainian protests- Some images of the men who were on duty at the EuroSquare barricades over the past couple of days. This is the front-line where protestors stand and wait- a line of defiance against the government corruption. The cops with shields and batons are only 100 yards away behind a no mans land of blackened sheet ice. They rotate the watch in 2 (not 8!) hour shifts and keep warm around burning oil drums when not watching the line of cops. Earlier in the month, 2 people were shot and killed here by sniper fire with scores more injured in running battles in the neighboring streets.”

 

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

‘The barricades at dawn’

Feb4 2014

“It was just over 9 weeks ago that these crude but very effective barricades were put in place by anti-government protestors. At the last line of barricades, there are a select few who take turns in manning the final point of resistance. As I walked around this morning on the blackened ice strewn with rubble and grit, I met a few of those who are risking it all to defend their country from further oppression and corruption. They are resolute and tell me they are prepared to die for ‘new leaders, new times’. Many want me to take their picture- Not afraid to be known as a ‘front line protester’. As I walked back to the comfort of my hotel room. I leave men who may-depending on Parliamentary decisions- be locked in heavy fighting in just a few hours time.”

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

 

‘The fight for dignity’

Feb2014

#Euromaidan demonstration of resistance and the fight for dignity.
These pictures taken a few days after violent clashes with government security forces that left 4 protestors dead. These protestors are protecting the #euromaidan camp against government-paid thugs known as ‘titushckas’ who are paid up to $80 a day depending on their level of willingness (and damage inflicted) to attack the camp and those that defend it.
#Ukraine February 2014

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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©Giles Clarke

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Giles Clarke is a social documentary photographer based in New York City.  He is represented by Reportage by Getty and aWHITELABELproduct. Since September 2011, Giles has been heavily involved with documenting the ‘Occupy’ movement all over the world, and recently won awards for his coverage of ‘Occupy Sandy’. Other than working on upcoming exhibitions of his work, he is a dedicated photojournalist, who spends much of his time collaborating with various publications, journalists, and charity organizations all over the world.
Read Giles’ full bio – http://www.gilesnclarke.com/bio

 http://www.gilesnclarke.com

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Mitchell Parsons can be found at:
mitchellparsons.com