“Shake-Up” in May: What is Expected on the Streets of Ukrainian Cities on May 1st, 2nd, & 9th

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



During the May holidays Kiev and other cities of Ukraine expect mass actions. What meetings and processions will take place during the holidays and that to expect from them, “Strana” tried to understand.

On May Day 50,000 trade union members will come

On May 1st, on Day of international solidarity of workers in Kiev, labor unions promise to gather 50,000 people for a meeting. As the representative of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada Sergey Kaplin told “Strana”, the trade-union organization already submitted an application to the Kiev City State Administration for the carrying out of a peaceful action of labor unions in Kiev on May 1st.

“On May 1st 50,000 members of labor unions will come for a meeting. Labor collectives that demand the restoration and preservation of workplaces and the return of salary debts and privileges will join the procession. It is day when we have to say ‘no’ to the destruction of plants and factories, illegal dismissals, the freezing of salaries, pensions, inhuman working conditions. It is a day when we have to say it’s not the IMFs and oligarchs that must dictate to us how to live, but ordinary people. On this holiday we will deliver to the authorities the precise demands of ordinary people. The minimum wage must be reconsidered and indexed regularly, the minimum pension must increase to 3200 hryvnias. We are also categorically against the removal of the moratorium on the sale of Ukrainian lands,” reported Sergey Kaplin to “Strana”.

On May 2nd in Odessa – day of memory

By tradition Odessa will remember on May 2nd the victims of the tragedy of 2014. On social networks the gathering on Kulikovo field is already being prepared.

Last year the authorities blocked passage onto the field itself and to the Trade Unions Building, so inhabitants of Odessa arranged an improvised flower-laying directly in front of the ranks of the police, who cordoned off the movement.

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As usual, before May 2nd in Odessa disturbing rumours about possible provocations and confrontations are being circulated, remembering recent confrontations on April 10th during the celebration of the Day of liberation of the city from fascists.

It’s true that last year this day passed rather quietly. Only a few representatives of “Right Sector” provoked a response from the people who came to Kulikovo field, and then fought amongst themselves. Besides this, Deputies of “People’s Front” blocked People’s Deputies from the “Opposition Bloc” at the airport of Odessa who arrived to honor the memory of the dead.

An “Immortal regiment” will come out for Victory Day

Veteran organizations are already preparing themselves for the celebration of Victory Day on May 9th. Earlier the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on events in 2017 for the Day of memory and reconciliation (on May 8th) and the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazism in World War II (on May 9th) “for the purpose of a worthy celebration of the feat of the winners against Nazism in World War II, veterans of war, and participants of the Ukrainian liberation movement”.

The head of the Kiev organization of veterans of Ukraine Nikolay Martynov told “Strana” that veterans want to carry out on May 9th in Kiev a march under the slogan “Nobody Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten”. “We will carry the portraits of our ancestors who defended for us our land, he said.

On social networks people already call to take to the streets of cities with portraits of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who fought, and to organize a march of an “Immortal regiment”. Last year it was unexpectedly numerous even in Kiev, not to mention the cities of the southeast. This year, apparently, the marches will repeat.

And such a prospect already keeps nationalist-radicals in suspense.

Last year they tried to disrupt actions of the “Immortal Regiment” in Kiev. And at the beginning of April of this year in Odessa on the Day of liberation of the city from fascists, nationalists attacked the participants of the ceremony of flower-laying on the Walk of Glory, but their actions were firmly stopped by police, which representatives of right-wing parties were extremely disapproving of.

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Thus, the head of “Azov” and “National Corpus” Andrey Biletsky said in an interview to the TV channel 112 that if the police “will continue to indulge in the anti-Ukrainian movement” (it is precisely like this that he called the events in Odessa on April 10th) a “civil standoff” will begin in Ukraine.

“I am absolutely sure that Odessa encouraged all of them, and we will see the second sabbath in Odessa on May 2nd, we will see it in the East on May 9th, and even in Kiev on May 9th. But in Ukraine there is a lot of youth that will prevent it,” warned Biletsky.

SBU wait for the awakening of the “shake-up

The Security Service of Ukraine by tradition makes a connection between the mass actions and plans of Russia to destabilize the situation in the country (the so-called “shake-up” plan).

The fact that in some cities of the country riots are being prepared, the chief of staff of the head of SBU Aleksandr Tkachuk stated about at a briefing in Kiev. According to him, Kharkov, Nikolaev, and Kherson will become hot spots on the map of Ukraine. In Odessa before Easter we already succeeded to “prevent” demonstrations of the Bulgarian national minority, which were allegedly organized by Russia. The coordinator of the action was detained, the organizer found out.

“According to our data, such protest actions are now being planned also on the territory of the Kharkov, Kherson, and Nikolaev regions. Our service will do everything in order so that such provocations are prevented in time. There is information that some of them are planned for the first half of May,” stated the chief of staff of the head of the SBU.

Holidays will be dampened by standoffs

The political scientist, the head of the analytical Center “Third Sector” Andrey Zolotarev in comment to “Strana” said that the President Petro Poroshenko issued a decree on the celebration on May 8th and 9th with an ulterior motive. The political scientist considers such actions as a pre-election maneuver.

“Earlier they made from the President a mega-patriot counting on the electorate of Western and Central Ukraine. But at this time the attitude in Western Ukraine to Poroshenko is even worse than in the rest of the country. That’s why the President already tries to maneuver, and in defiance to the Institute of National Memory, which has wanted to cancel May 9th long ago, issued a decree that actually also confirms that it is possible to quietly celebrate Victory Day, and that people who honour this holiday are also under his protection,” said the political scientist.

However, the political expert Ruslan Bortnik considers that this year street standoffs can damped the May holidays.

“The power is considerably weakened, the situation with blockade showed that is is easy to pressure and frighten the power. And that’s why nationalist-radicals will try to disrupt Victory Day to show who is the main patriot in Ukraine. Unlawful methods of confrontation are possible. We deal de facto with the beginning of the electoral campaign, and that’s why there will obligatorily be attempts by nationalists to put pressure on the power to cancel this holiday. On the other hand, we saw rather firm actions of police against ‘Right Sector’ in Odessa on April 10th. It isn’t excluded that also on May 9th the power nevertheless will decide to show that it is them who has authority and will stop possible provocations,” said Ruslan Bortnik to “Strana”.

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