This weekend my GV CEE editor Veronica and I collected pictures, videos, jokes and stories about the unprecedented Kyiv snowfall. Some of them I used for writing the following Global Voices post:
An unprecedented snowstorm hit the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, on Friday, March 22, prompting the city authorities to declare a state of emergencyon Saturday [video and photos, also here and here]. More than the monthly norm of snow fell in the city in just one day, forcing Kyiv airports to cancel flights or shut down altogether, and bringing military vehicles into the streets to help the communal services rescue the city from the snow.
While the authorities were trying to figure out how to combat the extreme weather, many Ukrainians united online to offer help [ru] and to share photos, stories and humor [ru] devoted to the snowfall.
Kids seemed quite excited, too (a video from Kyiv's Troyeshchyna district):
Ukrainian writer and singer Irena Karpa posted [uk] the following observations on her Facebook wall:
Together with this snow a share of Holy Spirit has descended on Kyiv: people are helping one another, smiling, embracing and altogether seem quite humane. It even [brought back some of the air] of [the 2004 Orange Revolution]. Once again the following paradox has become apparent: at no time do Ukrainians unite as well as they do in the face of a [total disaster].
Her musings were later shared by the Facebook community “It’s Kiev, Baby!”[ru], and in less than 24 hours it gathered over 2,000 likes, hundreds of shares and a few dozen comments.
Facebook user Elena Litnarovich wrote [ru]:
It is true, yesterday people were stopping and helping to drag the cars out of the snowdrifts, complete strangers who were hurrying somewhere would gather to push the cars out with their bare hands. [People] can unite when [push comes to shove].
Facebook user Zhyliuk Aleksei wrote [ru]:
I myself was walking [outside] today, although without the skis, and [I can] confirm – mutual help is not a myth
Facebook user Jerzy Konopie wrote [uk]:
By the way, [police] patrols are driving around the streets. Which is encouraging, because people just left their cars along the road. With their belongings [inside].
However, not all Kyiv residents were so complimentary of the authorities. Journalist and blogger Mustafa Nayyem posted photos and criticized [ru] Kyiv's communal services for prioritizing the area around the Presidential Administration, despite the fact that it was closed for the weekend, and at the same time ignoring all the neighboring streets:
[...] While the city has been paralyzed because of the snow, on Bankova Street snow removal equipment was actively at work.Apparently, communal service workers were not concerned about the comfort of several hundred [Presidential Administration] employees – yesterday was a day off. Most likely [their activity] was necessitated by some unwritten law that prescribes keeping the territory around the administration in an exemplary condition. Otherwise, it is problematic to find an explanation for such an [idiotic] snow cleaning effort in front of the [Presidential Administration] during the state of emergency in the city.
Considering the dire situation in the capital, Kyiv-based members of the opposition parties have already called for the resignation [ru] of the City Administration Head Oleksandr Popov. As the authorities struggle with mountains of snow and criticism, netizens are facilitating volunteer coordination and continue sharing examples of mutual help – as well as jokes about the snowfall.
UPDATE: Since this post was published, Kyiv-based volunteers set up an online volunteer coordination map to help the snowfall victims in the region.