It's a strange feeling to find out that you know someone who died on Maidan... Serhiy Didych of Horodenko, Ukraine (near Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk) was on the front lines of the barricades on February 18th when he was shot dead by government forces.
I didn't know Serhiy that well. We only spent 2 days together on a rafting trip down the Dnister River in 2005. But I spent that time talking to him and acting as his interpreter for two tourists from Netherlands. It was nice to get so much Ukrainian practice for once, though I could always switch to Russian when I didn't have all the words I needed.
Serhiy had a great sense of social responsibility and saw it as his duty to help people organize themselves and live better. I got the sense that everyone in all the villages along the way knew him and respected him. When we had some equipment stolen from the boat during a stop to visit some ruins, he didn't despair because he knew people in all the villages and was confident they would help identify the culprits.
Serhiy's family treated us to a dinner at his home after the rafting trip. We met his wife and kids. All very nice and friendly.
Serhiy was a budding community leader interested in politics and improving the lives of people in his region. For some years he ran a tourist guiding business. He loved hiking, and we talked about backpacking together in the Carpathians some time.
Rest in peace, Serhiy Didych!
Here's a photo collage I put together from our rafting trip, and a picture at bottom of Serhiy's body after he was shot.