The third anniversary of protests on the Maidan
22 November 2016
Thousands of Ukrainians marked the third anniversary of the beginning of mass protests that ultimately ousted President Viktor… Yanukovych and prompted Russia to annex the Crimea Peninsula and back an insurgency in the east.
This year’s November 21 commemoration, known the Day of Dignity and Freedom, saw government officials, former protest participants, and ordinary citizens placing flowers at a monument to the “Heavenly Hundred” — protesters who were killed in clashes with security forces.
Many rallied on Kyiv’s Maidan square, chanting: “Revolution, Revolution,” and denouncing Russian intervention in Ukraine. Elsewhere in the capital, a group of demonstrators smashed windows ad ransacked a branch of a Russian bank.
Minor scuffles in the evening as groups of rival demonstrators faced off on city streets and brief clashes with security forces were reported.
In a speech, President Petro Poroshenko called on the nation to unite and stand against the Russian “threat,” insisting that the former Soviet republic would never revert to its Moscow-dominated past.
“The Revolution of Dignity put an end to our Russian-Soviet past and the post-Soviet period,” Poroshenko said. “It has separated our Ukrainian and European world from the Russian world.”
Commemorations were being held in other cities as well.
The 2013 protests erupted in response to Yanukovych’s announcement that the would spurn closer ties with European Union and would seek tighten economic relations with Russia.
Thousands of people turned the Maidan square into a vast semi-militarized encampment, amid often freezing temperatures. The demonstrations exploded into full-scale violence in February 2014 and culminated with the shooting deaths of scores of protesters and Yanukovych fleeing to Russia.
In the aftermath, Russia quickly moved to annex the Crimean Peninsula, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based, and nutured a conflict in eastern Ukraine that turned into outright war between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists.