Ukraine’s not dead yet

A protestor above Maidan Square, copyright

A protestor above Maidan Square, copyright

God knows what’s happening in Kiev right now.

There’s rubber bullets and tear gas, flaming buses, several deaths, rumours of the government hiring thugs to discredit the protests, even bizarre text messages (everyone near the protests has been getting ones saying, “You are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance”)!

It seems like chaos, and a long way from November when people started gathering in Maidan Square to try and force the government to sign a trade deal with the EU.

The only thing I can say for certain is the odd fact that Ukraine’s national anthem has been at the centre of the protests ever since they began.

The tune, called Shche ne vmerla Ukraina – Ukraine’s not died yet, has reportedly been sung on the hour, every hour, in Maidan since November.

On New Year’s Eve, the protesters even tried to break the world record for most people singing an anthem at once (sadly they didn’t beat the current 121,653 achieved by an Indian conglomerate).

Why’s the anthem so popular? There’s the obvious reasons: that singing it makes the protestors seem the true patriots, and that the words are perfect for a revolution. “We’ll lay down our souls and bodies, all for our freedom,” goes one line.

But I like to think the real reason is it’s got a amazingly good chorus – the song speeding up, and each word gaining about 14 syllables so they can run up and down the tune.

It’s perfect for a mass singalong, especially before lobbing some rocks at police!

The version above was recorded in the square last month. The singer’s Ruslana, a former MP and Eurovision winner (!) who just happens to be Ukraine’s most popular musician.