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  1. ITV Report

Assembly Member's report from Kiev barricades

Mick Antoniw meets protesters on the barricades in the centre of Kiev Photo: EUCoR/Matthieu Hornung

As I stood in the Maidan (Independence Square), in the centre of Kiev, with representatives of Latvia, Lithuania and other former Soviet countries, I unfurled a Welsh flag for a photograph. Immediately people want to know where the flag is from and I explained a bit about Welsh history and the establishment of the Welsh Assembly. Like Ukraine, I tell them, Wales has two languages and a large historic neighbour. Unlike Ukraine we have a developing democracy and decentralisation of power.

It was a great honour to be asked to represent Wales on the EU Committee of the regions. This is the body that was set up following the Maastricht treaty to give a voice to sub state legislatures, regional devolved bodies and local government. I did not imagine for one moment that it would lead to me standing on the barricades of what has now become a revolutionary movement in Ukraine to overthrow a corrupt and increasingly dictatorial soviet style government.

Unfurling the Welsh flag in Kiev Credit: EUCoR/Matthieu Hornung

All around the world people are witnessing the brutal governmental attempts to suppress a movement that started off in support of closer integration with the European Union but is now much more; a movement for democratic change. In a meeting with representatives of the Civic Society of Maidan, which is part of the political voice which is unconnected to any political party, i am told that it is no longer about the EU but is now a fight for democracy and survival.

Many expect that if they lose the battle, they will be arrested by the state apparatus. They have to win. What started as a peaceful student demonstration is now a revolution. Violent attacks by the Berkut special forces, have led to the formation of paramilitary units organised by former Afghan war veterans and men with military experience. In street battles so far five have been killed, some by snipers, and another two bodies have been found in a forest nearby.

A woman tells Mick Antoniw about her fears Credit: EUCoR/Matthieu Hornung

The EU is important to them because it offers a democratic framework which doesn't exist in what they describe as Ukraine's "gangster capitalism" . They ask for international support. If the Maidan is beaten, Ukraine, they say, will spiral into civil war on the EU's doorstep and will destabilise the whole of Europe. "Ukraine is the largest country in Europe", I am told by a group of women passing by. They heard us talking in English. "Please tell the world" they say, "about what is happening in Ukraine today, right next to you. Please help us. This is as important for you as it is for us"

Mick Antoniw, whose father was born in Ukraine, is in Kiev as part of an EU delegation Credit: EUCoR/Matthieu Hornung