'We are watching you', protesters warn Ukraine's new leaders

'We are watching you', protesters warn Ukraine's new leaders

KIEV - Time appears to have stood still in the weeks since anti-government protests turned Kiev's Independence Square into a battleground, the site almost perfectly preserved as a warning to Ukraine's new leaders that those who swept them to power are keeping close watch.

An angry tangle of metal, barbed wire, sandbags and tyres still block the entrances to the square where they were erected as a barricade against riot police in the final bloody weeks of three months of protests which left over 100 people dead.

Passers-by linger in front of makeshift shrines, surrounded by masses of wilted flowers and mementos honouring the dead, while others pose for a photo in front of the untouched theatre of Ukraine's revolution.

To one side a wooden chapel has sprung up in a matter of days.

"We will stay here until the authority becomes normal and not corrupt, until everything becomes okay," insists Roman, 23, who is among the die-hard protesters still living in the tents covering the Maidan square and an adjoining boulevard.

"Maidan will only win when we see significant changes".

He and other youths in varying states of military dress mill about smoking between the tents, where the acrid smell of fires permeates the air, while some ladle out soup for the needy: the weary routine of a not-yet finished revolution.

'We control them'

The tinderbox atmosphere that took hold here when protests first began in November over ousted president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reject closer ties with the EU in favour of old master Russia, has given way to one of an extended camping trip.

But as Ukraine gears up for snap polls on May 25, the protesters are staying put until they see the changes they fought for.

"I am going to be here until the end, until the presidential election on May 25. We don't trust anyone... we are just watching them," Sergiy, a 31-year-old actor from Odessa told AFP.

"It is necessary to show the new authority that we are here, and we control them. We want them to remember that they were elected by Maidan, it is their responsibility."

It has been a gruelling introduction to power for the protest leaders who took office after their uprising ousted Yanukovych five weeks ago.

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