Did Egypt's Bloody Protests Influence Civil Unrest in Ukraine?

A guerrilla screening of Egyptian revolution documentary 'The Square' clearly touched hearts in Kiev during the early days of Ukraine's uprising.
Feb 28, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Days before the civil unrest in Kiev turned deadly, dozens of Ukrainians stood around a makeshift silver screen to watch Egypt's revolution unfold in the Academy Award–nominated documentary The Square.

Bundled up and draped in the post-Soviet nation's blue-and-yellow flags, dozens stood rapt as they watched the sometimes grisly scenes from Tahrir Square unfold at the open-air cinema on a Kiev street.

The Jan. 18 showing of the film in Ukraine came just a day after its full U.S. release, and—more poignantly—just days before the protests in Kiev became deadly. To date, protest organizers say more than 70 people have been killed and hundreds have been hurt.

In the video above, one unidentified woman weeps in response to the violent footage from The Square, telling the camera, "I surely feel sorry for those people defending their freedom by such means."

"I hope it won’t reach that point here, because after all, we’re peaceful,” she said. "Muslims, they’re so hot-tempered. We are Christians. But a price like that, it’s just—."

The woman stops short, apparently overtaken by tears, and is taken into the arms of a man as they both stand in a square that has since been stained with blood. It's unclear who organized the screening, which was shared online by Babylon '13. Attempts to contact the group were unsuccessful.

Protests first broke out in November when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected a trade deal with the European Union that many of his electorate believed would stop the tide of corruption and cronyism by developing the economy in a more Western, open style.

Instead, Ukraine's leadership accepted a $15 billion bailout from Russia—which has been paying into the recession-ridden country's cronyistic leadership for years. That deal and others have since fallen through, as the country has descended into chaos.

The Square is up for an Oscar in the best documentary category this weekend. Full disclosure: We're fans—and not just because the film is supported by Participant Media, TakePart's parent company.

The film captures a moment when Egyptians banded together and shared sometimes conflicting beliefs in what became a struggle for power, a revolution that echoed throughout much of North African politics during the Arab Spring.

The film is the latest effort from director Jehane Noujaim, whose previous documentary, 2004's Control Room, revealed the inner workings of Al Jazeera in the early years of America's post-9/11 war with Iraq.

As Noujaim told CNN's Piers Morgan: "It's incredible that there are squares that have been exploding around the world, and although the particulars of each situation are different, it's about young people pursuing their rights. What's important to remember is that people in Egypt are still trying to reclaim their rights. We're talking about an ongoing struggle."

True, and likewise, the struggle for Ukraine continues.