Memory in the making
Knyha pamiati, or Memory Book for those killed in the war for Ukraine, is the fullest online list of people who gave their lives for the unity and integrity of Ukraine from 2014 on. Every individual on the list has a personal page with a brief bio note, as well as photos, links to video and media reports about him or her, drawings, words of love from families and friends, and more. The Memory Book team works for free, and this is a matter of principle for its leader, Maksym Popov, 41, from Kyiv.
After service in the interior troops, he graduated from the Kyiv Economic University, and has been working as a manager at a well-known German wallpaper company. However, from his early childhood, Maksym has been interested in military history. He takes part in reconstructions of military historical events, and is interested in tourism, speleology, skiing and the history of Kyiv. His dream was to create a website on Kyiv's military history. For that purpose, he learned web-design. That website remains a dream, but Maksym's web-design skills turned out helpful in the development of the Memory Book.
Another factor that pushed him to start working on this ambitious project came in January-February 2014. During the Maidan, Maksym joined the first-aid volunteer squad: these were evacuating the injured protesters from the Maidan, helping those wounded in street clashes, putting on bandages and saving lives. Maksym took a short training course in paramedic aid and patrolled Kyiv streets as part of first-aid squads starting from January 26, 2014.
The squad volunteers were working with both sides of the Maidan. The days Maksym remembers the most were February 18-20, 2014. When the protesters marched up Instytutska Street towards the Parliament building and clashes began, the volunteers set up an improvised firstaid unit in a nearby yard. That's where the injured Maidan protesters were taken. The police did not touch the unit. Quite on the contrary, one general was personally walking the injured protesters to the unit. Then the night followed when the government planned to storm the Trade Unions' Building. Maksym's group ended up behind the line of the police and interior troops. That's when he saw the first death: he carried away a killed policeman. He also recalls how he and his colleagues were pulling away a police officer from the enraged crowd: people had torn off all his protective gear and were beating him heavily. Maksym and his colleague took some punches as well.
On the scariest moment, in the morning of February 20, when volunteers carried away dozens of wounded and killed protesters from Instytutska Street, Maksym's friend, Roman Kotliarevsky was heavily injured. While rescuing others, Roman got shot in his leg. Maksym Popov kept working with the Maidan firstaid unit till April 2014. He went to Kherson in Southern Ukraine to help create a similar unit there. That one was led by the local surgeon Vladyslav Kovaliov who was later killed in the Ilovaysk pocket.
In March-June 2014, Maksym took part in the activist investigation of the murder of the Heavenly Hundred. He began to collect data about those killed on the Maidan and soon found out that his friends from historical festivals (they worked at the National Museum of Military History) were doing the same thing. They joined forces and on July 22, 2014,
Maksym registered the memorybook.org.ua domain. It has been updated anywhere from several dozen to a hundred times on a daily basis ever since.
Over the summer and fall of 2014, a team gathered around the website to work on different blocks of information. The National Museum of Military History processes the official data on the servicemen killed in the East and buried in Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Starobilsk in unidentified graves. Volunteers look for photographs, videos and other data on social media and various websites, and contact the families. The team involves experts in law who know about privacy rules. The website is intended to make known those who died in the war for Ukraine, but in a way that does not hurt their relatives (some remain in the occupied territory).
As of today, the website provides information about more than 3,000 killed servicemen. The mission of the Memory Book is not only to preserve the stories of those killed, but to tell the truth of the war in the Donbas and the actual number of lives lost in it.