Symbolism of [temporary] Occupation



KIEV, Ukraine
September 16

“Do you not speak Ukrainian? Why do you come up to us and start speaking Russian?”
– member of Pravvy Sektor [“Right Sector”]

A steady mass of people gather in front of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament. The frontline crowd consisting mainly of Pravvy Sektor, a right wing Nationalist party, is on the move. The semi paramilitary group outflanks the frontline guards, as tyres burn and an MP is dumped into a trash container – a spectacular result of mob justice. Metal fences crash down and the lush garden inside the compound is invaded.

The symbolism of occupation prevails; the physical presence in an exclusive and guarded environment is enough to claim victory. Boiling it down to Maidan tactics, the veteran members are quick to arm themselves by breaking down wooden fences. Shortly after, the attack is halted by the leading members of the faction. Exchange of sneers and insults to and from the disengaging soldiers enforce the victory/defeat relationship on both sides and the message of domination is cemented beneath the downtrodden metal fencing.

Symbolism of territorial control forms integral part in the mood of the mob. Less than a pre-planned objective, it is a manifestation of a de facto end goal. Even though the government troops stands guard, the ability to freely manoeuvre in an occupied space underlines the transfer of power from authority to the masses. With the feverish rise of the nationalist party Pravvy Sektor, however, in whose hands the authority will remain once the dust settles is yet to be seen.

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