Photo feature: one way or another, cars, roads and drivers played a prominent role in Ukraine’s freedom movement, right up until the end.
Prominent among yesterday’s extraordinary developments was the release of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison in Kharkiv, north east Ukraine. Within minutes she declared she would run for President. Her reception later from the crowd at Independence Square in central Kiev was enthusiastic but hardly wild. Too tainted by the corruption of earlier regimes, it seems unlikely she will emerge as the unifying leader the country needs (but watch this space). Photo @kgorchinskaya
On the way into Kiev, Tymoshenko’s car was stopped by Maidan activists angry that the blacked out convoy had attempted to bypass regular traffic. Sitting alongside Tymoshenko was Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a long-time ally, office holder in a previous administration, and one of the negotiators with the government during the crisis. He is also tipped for high, possibly the highest, office in the next government. But Yatsenyuk was forced to adopt his most earnest expression and express fulsome apologies to talk his way out of this one.
Traffic jams stretched to former President Yanukovych’s lavish residence Mezhyhirya beside the Dnieper outside Kyiv – and served by its own brand new motorway – as the doors were thrown open to the public yesterday morning. This was a well trod path for protestors. From the early days of the demonstrations, convoys of Automaidan – the movement’s ‘mobile army’ – picketed Mezyhyhirya on a regular basis. Before this week’s massacre in Kyiv, its members were the most viciously targeted, including the eight day abduction and torture of leader Dmitry Bulatov. Arguably, the entire freedom movement started with an earlier group called ‘Road Control’, set up to tackle endemic corruption among traffic police. Photo @Ukroblogger
In the haste to leave – Yanukovych’s location is still unknown – many files were left behind, some just dumped in the river. Staff from @KyivPost are currently going through what remains but one surviving sheet is this on Tatyana Chornovil, the opposition journalist who was chased down on the M-03 highway early on Christmas morning, beaten, and left for dead. Ironically she was returning from photographing the lavish residence of a member of Yanukovych’s government. The label lists the registration plates of the cars she used. Photo via @AB_Chapman.
Yanukovych had his own seventy strong car museum, each exhibit coming with its own information sheet. As well as this range of ZILs was a 1950 Rolls Royce, a Chevrolet Impala and a wide selection of Fiat 500s.
In addition, Yanukovych’s son apparently had a blacked out vehicle for every occasion, housed at a separate location and now also abandoned. Photo @mefimus
Yanukovych even had his own petrol station, possibly the most tasteful part of the entire 337 acre estate which also featured a distressed tableaux of Greek columns and a snake skin sofa in the sauna. Photo @Andriyak
With politicians and police gone – even the traffic booths were empty – capital Kyiv was ghostly quiet yesterday morning. @KyivPost CEO Jakob Parusinski (@J_Parus) used the opportunity to take this photo, of Volodymyrski Descent, the road heading north east from Independence Square down beside the Dnieper. He called it ‘the difference between coming and going from Euromaidan’. We missed the significance at the time but as US ambassador @GeoffPyatt later pointed out, ‘Coming from Maidan is stained black from ash.’