Anderson Cooper has traded a seat in a studio for a walk through barricades, the trappings of dissent and empty bottles ready to be used as Molotov cocktails.
The veteran CNN anchor realized Friday night that he had to get to Kiev to cover the unrest now gripping Ukraine. “I was actually in Los Angeles and started reading about it, and we reported on it Friday night on the show, and I started discussing it with my producers,” he said in an interview with Variety. He got on a flight Saturday morning.
Cooper began broadcasting from Kiev Monday night and is believed to be the first anchor to get on the ground in the country, where a fledgling government is grappling with the presence of Russian troops in Crimea. To be sure, many networks have correspondents on the ground and the main anchors from other news outlets have set up shop and begun to broadcast. Cooper, who regularly hosts “Anderson Cooper 360″ at 8 p.m. Eastern on CNN, anchored from Kiev yesterday and last night. He is expected to stay in the country for at least a good part of the week.
In Kiev’s Independence Square, Cooper said, “protesters haven’t left. All the barricades are still in place. There are bottles ready to be filled with gasoline.” He has seen a woman come by to maintain various elements in the Square, purely out of respect. “She spent a good hour clearing out candles and cleaning up flowers that people had left out. No one asked her to do that. She’s just here all by herself, out of respect for those who have lost their lives.”
Cooper said he sees the Square as grist for a potential feature or report. He might like to “document life in the Square” or illustrate “the importance of the Square in people’s minds.” Placing a spotlight on the area could serve to provide “a real sense” of Independence Square “both as a living protest site and as a shrine to those who have died,” he said.
Cooper is not sure how long he will anchor from the region, noting that “it’s hard to tell” what the next developments will be. ” We will take it each day,” he said. “It’s such a fascinating story.”