Day 39 - 67: April 29 - May 26, 2014

Yesterday was Ukraine's early presidential elections. As most who have seen the news now know that the winner is the "Chocolate King" Petro Poroshenko, a wealthy oligarch that might add stability to Ukraine - despite being "more of the same." Last night, we attended his election night party. I snapped the below photo as a crowd of journalists descended upon him upon his appearance in the Art Arsenal museum. He spoke almost exclusively to Ukrainian television, to the disappointment of many international journalists. We overheard one major American network journalist cursing about being denied an interview as she waved around her credentials. 

Kiev, Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko speaks with journalists at Art Arsenal as exit polls place him as the winner. copyright Jason Blevins 2014

Polling center in Kiev, Ukraine. 

Overall, election day was rather low-key. There were lines, but in Kiev, there was no celebrations in the streets. People seemed to simply want a return to normalcy. This was quite surprising for me and my team. We were not necessarily expecting anything major, but we figured people would gather in Maidan. This lackluster tone was most apparent at the second place presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, 

Yulia Tymoshenko's concession speech. Copyright Jason Blevins 2014

Earlier this week, we attended a wedding for two members of the notorious Right Sector. In what was one of the more bizarre moments I've filmed, there was a balaclava-wearing Right Sector member riding atop a subversive tank that was decorated with balloons and a Canadian band played folk music atop. 

Right Sector wedding. copyright Jason Blevins 2014

The previous night we had met the leader of Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh. The now-former presidential candidate and alleged 'terrorist', Yarosh, is on Russia's most wanted list. Hard to imagine this soft-spoken man in a suit that spoke to us in the hallways of Hromadske.TV station being what Russia has accused him as being, but we'll see what impressions arise from our interview with him in the following weeks. 

On Saturday, we went to a shooting range with the Ukrainian equivalent of the NRA. We had earlier interviewed the coordinator for the gun association. His arguments for the right to guns was very similar to what one might hear the NRA make, however the sincerity was far more moving here. When the government is corrupt and the police cannot be relied upon to do their job... what other options does an individual have to protect himself and those around him? It's not an ideal situation, but more has to be accomplished in Ukraine before they can work toward idealism. 

Speaking of idealism, we interviewed a historian for Mikhailovsky Monastery. His insights into the church during the Soviet Union and now with respect to the people's revolution against Yanukovych's government was quite revealing and often moving. 

I didn't take a photo of this, but we also got an interview with Mustafa Nayyem, a popular journalist and co-founder of at Hromadske.TV and is credited by some in the media as having motivated the first gathering of people in Maidan, an act that launched a revolution. I won't go into what he said now because much of it should be heard, not read. Look for it to be featured in the trailer for our film to be released sometime in July/August. 

That is all for now, and only a small part of the interviews we have done over the last month. We have something like 100 hours of footage thus far and have many ideas of how to cut it all together into a unique portrait of Ukraine's revolution that is unlike anything we've seen thus far. I cannot wait to share it with everyone.