The public activists have picked up garbage, organized classes and art events as part of their protests against plans that would turn the historical building into the city’s newest trade and office center.
It looks to be an uphill battle.
The government has excluded Hostynny Dvir from a list of architectural landmarks, with parliament sanctioning privatization. After a private company with offshore roots presented a multimillion-dollar reconstruction project, volunteers do not dare leave their vigil to preserve what they describe as a rare cultural public space.
“I understand pretty clearly that our chances are not big because, on the opposite side, there are our opponents, powerful state authorities and unimaginable money,” said Vladyslava Osmak, a Kyiv guide and activist who comes to Hostynny Dvir almost daily and takes a night shift once a week. “We are [just] a bunch of intellectuals who are eager to sacrifice our time, efforts and health for it to be possible to live in this city, not only to survive; to create, not only to consume,” she added.