Euromaidan demonstrations started in Kyiv after the decision of President Victor Yanukovych to suspend the preparation for signing the Association Agreement on November 21, 2013. All at once this announcement resulted in the largest protests since the last Orange Revolution in 2004.
November 21, 2013
This date is officially considered the beginning of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity. Around 2,000 people gathered the same night when the decree to change geopolitical course of Ukraine and suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement was made public.
Many opposition leaders called for protest via Facebook and Twitter and later on the representatives of the opposition and pro-EU parties were the ones to lead the protests.
November 24, 2013
A more serious rally and opposition meeting took place on November 24, when around 50,000 to 200,000 people gathered on the main square in the capital.
The demonstrators were holding EU flags, chanting “Ukraine is Europe” and singing national anthem. These rallies conducted regularly on Sundays since then were called “National viche”. In the next few days after the “national march”, around 300 mostly young participants constantly stayed in the camps on Maidan square.
November 30, 2013
As the protests continued, a sudden shift happened on the night of November 30 at 4 a.m. Berkut special police units armed with batons, stun grenades and tear gas violently attacked the remaining protesters, including Reuters journalists and other innocent people.
Public was shocked with the horrible reports from the Maidan square, where people were covered with blood and calling for help. Police units were brutal enough to besiege St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery trying to reach around 50 activists who fled from the scene seeking for a safe place.
December 1, 2013
Public could not stand by passively and watch as their children were beaten, so reaction of the people was immediate.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered the same day in the morning after the night attack, and already on December 1 on Sunday approximately 800,000 protesters gave their response to a violent police crackdown, demanding for president’s resignation.
More people from all around the county started to support the protest and came from all corners of Ukraine to the capital to stay on the main square. A self-defense patrol called “Samooborona” was organized at the time and it was widely believed that Maidan square was the safest place to stay and hide from police lawlessness.
The tradition to gather every Sunday was rock solid and many concerts took place in the center of Kyiv. Stage was active 24 hours a day. There was also a firm tendency that the more government tried to push and forcefully disperse the crowd, the more resistance it received.
There were also a lot of specific features and events, like the tractor assault on Bankova Street, demolition of communist Lenin statue in Kyiv on December 8, building of barricades and clashed with the police in heavy snow, visits of world-famous politicians to address crowds (U.S. senator John McCain among them).
Protesters also decorated the empty Christmas tree on Maidan, which became a symbol of the Revolution.
One may not forget about the phenomena and new special terms which made Ukrainian Revolution special. During the winter events, dictatorial government also tried to strike back, so “titushky” (government paid provocateurs) were involved. They were mostly sportsmen whose aim was to sabotage the peaceful nature of the protests and walk away from the scene in time. Anti-Maidan rallies were also organized, but the contingent consisted mostly from vagabonds, homeless people and alcoholics.
On the other side, “Automaidan” was organized to support the movement on roads and basically take the protests to the next level. It began patrolling the streets, preventing kidnapping by police. Automaidan also often massively visited government leaders.
On New Year’s Eve, around 200,000 people attended Euromaidan to jointly celebrate.
January 16, 2014
Unprecedented anti-civil laws were passed by the Ukrainian parliament, which instigated riots around the country even more. The most interesting part was that these laws were approved by means of MPs’ showing hands. The laws introduced 10-year jail terms for blockading government buildings; hefty fines and prison terms for protesters who wear face masks and helmets; fines and prison terms for unauthorized installation of and provision of facilities or equipment for tents, stages or amplifiers in public places; and driving bans for people who form convoys of more than five cars.
This made a country a de facto dictatorship. The laws were also very identical to the ones that were introduced in Russia after protests on Bolotnaya square in 2012.
Infuriating the population, Dictatorship laws transformed the peaceful Euromaidan into the infamous clashes and riots on Hrushevskoho Street.
Radically oriented protesters threw Molotov cocktails in direction of interior troops positions. Police answered with shotguns and gas. Many innocent people and activists were kidnapped by police, many of them are still missing.
The first death during the riots occurred on January 21, when a 22-year-old men fell from the 13-metre colonnade while confronted by Berkut police.
Skirmishes turned into battle almost every day. Kyiv city resident tried to help as they could, bringing tires, firewood, food and clothes for the protesters.
Negotiations between the opposition representatives and the government continued, on January 28 Prime Minister Mykola Azarov tendered his resignation. But, as before, what President Yanukovych offered was rejected by the Maidan.
February 18, 2014
A horrible page in the history of Ukraine started in the third week of February, when protesters began a peaceful march to the Ukraine's parliament in support of rolling back the Constitution of Ukraine to its pre-2004 form. Berkut officers fired from rooftops, Titushkas beat protesters with truncheons. More protesters were killed that day.
The bloodiest day was on February 20, when government snipers started killing innocent protesters, who were only armed with wooden clubs and shields made from sheet metal or wood. The massacre was filmed by numerous journalists and is widely available on the Internet. Allegedly, Vladimir Putin’s assistant Vladislav Surkov stood behind that.
On 20 February Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko announced he had signed a decree to authorize the usage of live ammunition against protesters.
Overall, more than 100 protesters died and thousands more were injured.
February 22, 2014
The bloodshed made Yanukovych join the negotiations with the opposition and EU leaders, but the reached agreement was not well-received by the community. One of the activists at the time (present MP) gave a famous speech that he vows to march to Presidential Administration with weapons if Yanukovych does not resign.
Later on, the alleged information about missing Ukrainian President went public, and footage from security cameras showed fleeing of Yanukovych by helicopter in the evening of February 22.
The aftermath of the revolution is well-known and it undoubtedly changed us forever. As reported earlier, Ukraine marks the Day of Dignity and Freedom today, on November 21, 2016.