Today marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of Ukraine’s Maidan Uprising, the mass anti-government protest in the centre of Kyiv that continued for three months, eventually bringing down the government and causing Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president to flee to Russia.
The uprising began in response to then President Viktor Yanukovych’s sudden decision not to sign an association agreement with the EU, despite it having widespread support throughout the country. On 21 November 2013, journalist Mustafa Nayyem wrote a Facebook post saying: “Meet at 10:30pm under the Independence Monument. Wear warm clothes, bring tea, coffee, a good mood and friends.”
The protest camp that established itself that night was violently dispersed by the authorities nine days later, after which the protests turned against Yanukovych personally. Early December saw mass clashes in Kyiv between protesters and police, while in late January, hundreds were injured as the clashes worsened and the first deaths were reported. By late February, the government had lost its parliamentary majority and Yanukovych had fled to Russia in disgrace.
To mark the 10th anniversary, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the “historic pro-European uprising on the Maidan” had marked the country’s “first victory” against Russia, “a victory for involvement, for courage, for the Revolution of Dignity, for popular resistance, for civil society.”
“We began a new chapter in our struggle 10 years ago. Ukrainians launched their first counteroffensive 10 years ago, against lawlessness and an attempt to rob us of our European future,” Zelensky said.
Anti-government protest in Kyiv, 24 November 2013. Photo: Iv Bogdan / NurPhoto / Corbis / Getty Images
Anti-government protest in Kyiv, 1 December 2013. Photo: Iv Bogdan / NurPhoto / Corbis / Getty Images
Ukrainian riot police attempting to extinguish petrol bombs thrown by anti-government protesters during clashes in central Kyiv, 20 January 2014. Photo: Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Anti-government protest in Kyiv, 22 January 2014. Photo: Burak Akbulut / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
A man kneeling before an Orthodox priest between the police and anti-government protesters near the Dynamo Stadium, Kyiv, 25 January 2014. Photo: Rob Stothard / Getty Images
Street fires during clashes between anti-government protesters and police, 18 February 2014 in Kyiv. Photo: Alexander Körner / Getty Images
Demonstrators on the Maidan (Independence Square) refusing to leave despite an agreement between the government and the opposition in Kyiv, Ukraine, 21 February 2014. Photo: Bulent Doruk / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
A protester laying flowers in memory of those killed on the Maidan, 23 February 2014. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images
Protesters waving a Ukrainian flag in front of a mansion owned by former President Viktor Yanukovych in Kyiv following his flight from the city, 23 February 2014. Photo: Etienne de Malglaive / Getty Images