When the Euromaidan protests began in Kiev in late November, few people would have predicted exactly how devastating they would become. What began as a small, peaceful protest quickly turned violent. The protests, which began after a shift away from the European Union toward Russia, slowly became a broader denunciation of President Viktor Yanukovych's government. The events ebbed and flowed until reaching a new peak of violence this week, with the latest figures suggesting that at least 60 people have died in the past few days.
The images coming out of Ukraine have understandably been described as "apocalyptic," almost as if they were something out of a film. But Euromaidan is a real event, taking place in a real city, where millions of people with homes and businesses are also trying to live their daily life.
One person who has been keeping track of all this is Kiev resident Dmytro Vortman. Since Dec. 9, Vortman has been using his own footwork and media report to map the progression of the protests in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev's Independence Square, and then painstakingly plotting their progress on maps using Adobe Illustrator. The maps, which were first picked up by KnowMore's Max Ehrenfreund, have been widely shared by Euromaidan-linked social media accounts. While we can't vouch for every detail of the maps, they provide a fascinating glimpse into how the Kiev protests developed.
This is the first map that Vortman created showing the scene on Dec. 8, the third weekend of protests in Kiev, and when the protests began to gain international attention (you can see a video of the protests from the time here).
Vortman's map shows where the protesters are (the red), and the areas controlled by troops from the Ministry of the Interior (the blue). You can see a more detailed legend for the maps on Vortman's Facebook page here.
Vortman's maps from Dec. 11 show an overnight storming of the Maidan by security forces:
Things were relatively quiet in Kiev until Jan. 16, when the Ukrainian parliament passed a series of strict anti-protest laws. Vortman began remapping the protests Jan. 19. As the protests reached new levels of violence, he created new yellow sections to show where protesters and security forces were clashing:
By Jan. 26, Vortman shows that the areas controlled by protesters and security forces have both expanded significantly:
Events exploded again during the past few days, moving so fast that Vortman had to update his map seven times in three days. You can see that in this gif, which shows events between Feb. 17-19 (check the top right corner for the dates). You can see how on Feb. 18 security troops made a big push into the Euromaidan camp, and the attempts to repel them:
Of course, you shouldn't take these maps as an authoritative source, but they are a fascinating perspective into how the protests have developed since December, and it's well worth spending some time with them to help understand events.
You can see more of the maps on Volkman's Facebook page, where just yesterday, he posted his latest map. Exactly how many more he'll have to make remains unclear.