Inside Kiev’s Ukraine Hotel – the Makeshift Hospital and Morgue

Feb 20, 2014 2:24pm

The large Soviet-era Ukraine Hotel lords over Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, but today it became a makeshift hospital, morgue, and target for snipers.

As protesters were shot and wounded during clashes with security services in the square, many were brought to the Ukraine. Blood stained the floor and furniture as medics struggled to perform life-saving surgery next to the hotel receptionist.

 

“The entire lobby of the Ukraine Hotel has been transformed in a triage center – emergency medical workers treat the wounded as they are rushed through the doors,” said ABC News producer Matt McGarry, who is staying at the Ukraine Hotel.

“One the other side of the lobby, the dead are laid on the floor under white sheets,” he said.

 

Those bodies, about a dozen of them, arrived during the morning violence. They were only removed late in the evening.

 

BBC producer Kevin Bishop, reached by phone just as the bodies were finally removed, said a woman was screaming as they were carried out.

 

Bishop, who is also staying at the Ukraine, said the hotel was now under heavy security. Only medics, the wounded, and hotel guests were allowed in.

“The hotel staff should be remembered in all this. They are just regular people that work in a hotel and suddenly they are in the middle of a war zone,” he said.

The hotel is down to a skeleton staff, but those that remained struggled to keep it functioning. The hotel’s restaurant was no longer open and rooms were not tidied by maids.

“It’s not functioning like a hotel anymore. It’s just a large building with a lot of rooms,” Bishop said.

Many international journalists covering the crisis are staying at the Ukraina, due to its proximity to the action in the square, but it became clear today they were not safe from the mayhem there.

 

Several journalists, including ABC’s McGarry, were fired upon by snipers as they filmed from the windows.

 

BBC’s journalists were targeted as well, according to Bishop.

“The hotel is a big old Soviet building that’s built to last. A bullet hit inside the room but barely scuffed the plaster,” he said. “We have to be very careful standing next to the windows.”

 

Later in the day, camouflaged, gun-toting protesters began searching hotel rooms searching for government snipers they fear are hiding in the hotel.

“It’s quite unsettling,” Bishop said.

Outside, preparations continue for what may be another night of violence.

“People are tearing up paving bricks from the streets and forming long lines as they pass the stones from one to the other all the way up the line to the barricades,” McGarry said.

 

“Now darkness has set in and bright orange fires blaze in the night sky. Protesters, filthy and tired looking, man the barricades through the night and keep the flames going by burning tires to create an acrid, black smoke – they say to keep them screened from police snipers,” he said.

ht kiev hotel twitter kab 140220 16x9 608 Inside Kievs Ukraine Hotel   the Makeshift Hospital and Morgue

Bernd Grossheim, a radio correspondent for Germany's ARD, uploaded this image to his Twitter from the Ukraine Hotel on Feb. 20, 2014 with the caption, "In the lobby of my hotel people are dying. Women crying. Complete + utter horror #euromaidan."

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