Mem­ory in the mak­ing

The Ukrainian Week - - SOCIETY -

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 mem­o­ry­ 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.

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