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Paying respect and seeking revenge, Ukrainians look forward to uncertain future

February 24, 2014 at 6:08 PM EDT
Ukraine square
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The scene in the heart of Ukraine’s capital has shifted from chaos and carnage to mourning, with questions of what’s next for the country.

We begin with this report from Matt Frei of Independent Television News.

MATT FREI: Kiev is back in business, the business of flowers and grief.

The city center around Maidan is a shrine amongst barricades that became scenes of trench warfare from a different era. The vestiges of normality have returned. Here, a supermarket at the barricades has opened its doors again. The metro is operating again, if mainly in the service of pilgrimage to the place where dozens of mostly unarmed protesters were picked off by sniper rifles and Kalashnikovs only four days ago.

It’s astonishing how quickly a crime scene has been transformed into a shrine, guarded by the custodians of the revolution, haunted by the images and sounds that have barely had time to become memories. It’s the down payment in blood that has made this revolution so different to the Orange one in 2004. It demands a more solemn level of respect and revenge.

This is Antony, a neurosurgeon and his 5-year-old daughter and his pregnant musician wife. She’s expecting in a fortnight.

MATT FREI: What should happen to President Yanukovych?

MAN: I think that, for Ukrainians, it’s not enough to find him and to judge him. I think that and I believe and I see that most of us want him dead.

MATT FREI: You want him dead?

MAN: Yes, because the man who do this — those horrible things, he doesn’t live. He must die. He must die. For him — it is better for him.

WOMAN: It’s a disaster really. I have been here from the first day of Maidan.

MATT FREI: Alessia owns a travel company and summed up what’s really at stake here.

What’s the most important thing that needs to change?

WOMAN: The most important thing? It has already changed. It’s in the mind of people. It’s here. It’s inside. We have to make the changes — we have to start from ourselves. We don’t have to look for politicians or for someone else to save our country. We have to start from ourselves.

MATT FREI: But someone does need to run the country, and the leaders from the last revolution are no longer as appealing as they once were.

So the man without a face standing guard outside the central bank summed up a very common refrain.

“Ukraine needs completely new faces,” he told me. “No Tymoshenko, no Poroshenko, no Arseli, no Klitschko, none of them.”

A blank slate, a power vacuum, and, according to the central bank, a whole of 35 billion euros just to cover the next two years. The revolution may be over but, there’s no shortage of demons.