Sviato Pokrovy | 14Oct2009 | Lubomyr Markevych 

Sviato Pokrovy in Kyiv on 14 October 2009

As someone who's watched the events around Sviato Pokrovy for several years now, it struck me at how the number-ratios have changed over the years. Whereas in the past the numbers of protesting Communists and Vitrenko supporters would rival the borshct assembly of assorted Kozak groups, UPA veterans, youth organizations (including some odious right wing skinheads) the ratio this year shifted dramatically in favor of the Kozaks and assorted youth organizations. Are the communist supporters gradually dying off naturally, or are they not being paid anymore, I wondered?

In total, the number of Communist protestors on the Maidan could not have been more than 100 and the Vitrenkovites were no more than 50, all of whom were watched over by bored police officers while the latter merited a separate contingent of some of the biggest Berkut specimens yet to be seen on Khreshchatyk. Meanwhile the collage of Kozaks, youth organizations and especially Svoboda supporters numbered several thousand and their various marches from Shevchenko park to Sofiyska ploshcha and the Maidan went ahead uninterrupted in columns that stretched for several blocks. There was not even a hint of confrontation and despite the strident chants of some of the more fanatic sub-groups on both sides the marches proceded in a civilized way.

It would be interesting to follow the continuing evolution of the Pokrova sviato since it reflects much of the unspoken, harsher, underground nationalist and leftist dynamics of Kyiv. This rage is always there, but it remains fragmented, patchy and hidden for most of the year. One thing is certain, the holiday continues to act as a social tripwire for political extremists on both sides, unleashing the virtiol of incorrigible leftists against those spouting slogans of integral nationalism. The actual Pokrova sviato, so cherished by legitimate Kozak and UPA veteran groups, seems almost lost in the shuffle and it continues to remain at risk of being annually hijacked by extremists on both sides. To the credit of Ukraine's security services this didn't happen this year. But why the sponsors of the respective leftist and right wing extremists decided to back off this year remains a bigger question.