AutoMaidan (Ukrainian: Автомайдан) is an ongoing socio-political movement that began in Kiev within the Euromaidan. The initial goals of AutoMaidan included the resignation of the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, as well as Ukraine's alignment with international movements that respect freedom, human rights and campaign for peace, such as the European Union, USA, and most other civilized nations. The movement consisted of drivers who were willing to risk and able to protect the protest and supply revolutionary camps, disobey the oppressive government, block streets and bring the Euromaidan to "the ruling elite's" doorsteps.
The movement originated on the 30th of November, 2013. In the early morning hours, after the dispersion of protesters on Independence Square in Kiev, car owners started driving around the city with the specific purpose of signaling and displaying Ukrainian and European flags to agitate for massive protests against the oppressive-turned-violent government. Drivers brought hundreds of people to St. Michaels Square for free from across the city and suburbs.
Automaidan organized numerous car processions to residencies of anti-Ukrainian officials including the one on December 29, 2013 to the president's residence in Mezhyhirya to voice their protests at his refusal to sign the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement in December 2013. The motorcade was stopped a couple of hundred metres short of his residence. This resulted in AutoMaidan members being identified and becoming a major target of violent attacks by government forces, militia, and government sponsored titushkys.
One of the organisers, Dmytro Bulatov, was kidnapped by unknown assailants on 22 January 2014 and reappeared on 30 January, having been tortured and visibly injured. On 6 February 2014, while undergoing treatment in Lithuania, he stated at a press conference in Vilnius that he was tortured to admit that his organization was funded and aided by Americans and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine especially and that he was hired to organize the Automaidan and the riots against the current government. During the press conference Bulatov repeatedly stressed that he believed he was abducted by the Russian special forces and that the leader of the Ukrainian Choice Viktor Medvedchuk might have been involved in his abduction. The kidnapping of Bulatov condemned by may, including the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton. In an official statement released from her office on 31 January, she said "I am appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture and cruel treatment of Auto-Maidan organiser Dmytro Bulatov, who was found alive yesterday after having been missing for a week. [...] All such acts are unacceptable and must immediately be stopped. It is the authorities' responsibility to take all necessary measures to address the current atmosphere of intimidation and impunity which allows for such acts to take place. All unlawfully detained people have to be released and perpetrators brought to justice." Two criminal cases involving Bulatov have been opened, one treats him as a victim of abduction, another as a suspect in criminal proceedings on mass riots.
Causing Hrushevskoho Street riots
On 19 January 2014 at about 14:00 during viche (veche: public meeting), one of the members of Automaidan Sergey Coba, who demanded that the leaders of the three opposition parties represented in parliament choose one of them as the resistance leader, was widely supported by the gathered people. If his demand was not met within half an hour Mr. Coba promised that Automaidan would go to the parliament building and peacefully picket it until parliamentary deputies cancel the "dictatorship laws". The demand was not met and AutoMaidan, Self-defence and thousands of viche supporters went to the parliament building via Hrushevskoho Street.(Russian) The street was blocked by riot police and internal troops and before 15:40 when aggressive actions began.(Ukrainian)
The same day at 16:00 Dmitry Bulatov posted a disclaimer on his Facebook page, saying that he, Serhij Poyarkov and Andrej Telizhenko were against unmotivated use of force, bloodshed, hadn't called on people to go to the parliament building and were trying to persuade AutoMaidan activists and other people to resist authority's provocations.(Russian)(Ukrainian)
Regional and other organizations
The idea of a motorized socio-political protest force was widely accepted and reproduced in numerous regional organizations in Ukraine as well as abroad. Especially in Kiev, the movement has become a spring board for many public initiatives, individual personalities and organizations.
Separation of Autodozor
After the violent dispersion of AutoMaidan in Cherkasy on 27 February 2014(Ukrainian) many of their activists separated into a new group called Autodozor (Ukrainian: Автодозор, literally "Car-watch"). They announced two reasons for that – unwillingness to supply the personal data that AutoMaidan office body wanted and the appearance of people involved in financial frauds among self-proclaimed leaders of AutoMaidan.
As of 27 February 2014 Autodozor consisted of more than 200 cars. Their motto is "less words more action". Their main activities are:
- delivery of firewood;
- delivery of tyres (for burning); gasoline, oil, bottles (for Molotov cocktails);
- transporting of injured;
- patrolling of Kiev streets (after the change of government they do this together with road police);
- transporting of perished to their homes outside Kiev.
They claim that most of what was done within those activities throughout the revolution was done mostly by the current activists of Autodozor while they were still activists of Automaidan.
- "Evidence shows falsified reports used against AutoMaidan". KyivPost. February 2, 2014. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014.
- "BBC News - Beaten protest leader Dmytro Bulatov leaves Ukraine". Bbc.co.uk. 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
- Bulatov says he was tortured to admit US involvement in riots in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (6 February 2014)
- "Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the case of Dmytro Bulatov" (PDF). Eeas.europa.eu. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
- "Автомайдан едет под Верховную Раду". Обозреватель. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Криваве Водохреща в Києві". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Автомайдан раскололся? Булатов, Поярков, Телиженко сделали заявление". Обозреватель. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Dmitry Bulatov - Спільна зава Сергія Пояркова, Андрія... - Facebook". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "У Черкасах повторно штурмували ОДА". Радіо Свобода. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "�ро Автодозор і його відношення до Автомайдану". Retrieved 23 October 2014. (Ukrainian)
Media related to AutoMaidan at Wikimedia Commons