This amazing video shows just how big Ukraine’s protests have gotten

December 9, 2013

As Ukraine's protesters have gathered in Independence Square, in the capital city Kiev, it's been tough for them to ignore the giant Christmas tree at the square's center. The "tree," actually a 130-foot-tall metal construction that workers had not yet finished dressing up in fake pine and real lights, looms over the square. First, protesters covered the tree with Ukrainian flags, protest banners and signs in support of greater integration with the European Union. On Sunday, some of them managed to climb up to the top. A journalist with the U.S.-backed media outlet Radio Free Europe who was with them took this video and posted it to Facebook.

The video is striking both for showing the size of the crowd – Independence Square and nearby streets appear completely packed as far the camera can see – as well as its order and coordination. There is none of the chaos or fighting that marked smaller protests elsewhere in Kiev, like the one that toppled an old statue of Vladimir Lenin. A number of countries have seen mass protests calling for the government's ouster in the last few years. But protests of this size, that are this well ordered, are not common. If and when a crowd like this decides to march on government buildings, it's not very easy to stop.

I don't speak a word of Ukrainian, but it's tough to miss the word chanted over the loudspeakers at the video's end: revolutsiya.

Correction: This post originally indicated that the protesters had shot the video. In fact, a Radio Free Europe journalist who was with them recorded it. Thanks to Radio Free Europe for letting me know.

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Max Fisher | December 6, 2013