A club with nails hammered in at the end. The inscription reads “Ternopil,” which is a city in Western Ukraine. According to the owner, the handle is wrapped in tape after having broken in clashes with the Berkut.
The Ukrainian Revolution began quietly with a collection of relatively calm protests against the government back in November 2013. However, on February 18th, 2014, Euromaiden protesters and police clashed, leading to the deaths of 82 people (13 policemen) and over 1,000 injuries.
Protesters subsequently battled the Ukrainian army and eventually ousted President Yanukovych using a collection of homemade weapons such as clubs, slingshots, and nightsticks. Photographer Tom Jamieson was on the front lines to capture some of these DIY weapons, and the results are pretty striking. Jamieson and his assistant would simply set up a black background cloth and shoot in natural light. The protesters chose their own postures, leading to some very expressive shots.
According to Jamieson, every protester had a helmet, a balaclava, and a club-like implement of some sort.
Brutal as these weapons look, they’re basically medieval compared to modern security forces. “It’s literally sticks and stones,” says Jamieson. “As mean and nasty as they look — and of course they’re intentionally made to look that way — it’s nothing in comparison to a gun.”
“You’d talk to one guy,” says Jamieson. “Asking him, ‘Hey can I photograph this, tell me about this,’ and then one of his friends would start laughing and say, ‘No you don’t want to photograph this, come with me, you want to photograph this instead.’ It was that whole sort of pride thing, like ‘mine’s bigger than yours.’”
The markings and signs of use on each weapon tell their own stories, usually having to do with bludgeoning a policeman.
This protester’s helmet is painted with an image of St. Michael, next to the Ukrainian crest.
Each protester simply held their weapons up as the camera prepared to shoot, leading to a unique composition for each shot.
The inscription on this one says it all.
The inscription reads “Glory to Ukraine.”
The photos in this series were shot at various places around the occupied zone. Jamieson and his assistant would simply set up a black background cloth and shoot in natural light.
There were more advanced weapons in use by the protesters, while others, apparently including automatic guns, were kept locked away in case the situation escalated into open war.
“Every single person without fail had a club or a bat or something like that,” says Jamieson. “You couldn’t help but notice the DIY nature of the whole thing, from the barricades themselves to the totally inadequate body armor that people were wearing, and the weapons as well. It looked like something out of Mad Max, it was crazy.”
I can’t help but admire the resourcefulness of Ukrainian people, but I hope a more peaceful path to resolution is found very soon.