History of Ukraine
2013 Nov 21 - 2014 Feb 21


Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Uk

Euromaidan, or the Maidan Uprising, was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on 21 November 2013 with large protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv. The protests were sparked by the Ukrainian government's sudden decision not to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Ukraine's parliament had overwhelmingly approved of finalizing the Agreement with the EU, while Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject it. The scope of the protests widened, with calls for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and the Azarov Government. The protesters opposed what they saw as widespread government corruption, the influence of oligarchs, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine. Transparency International named Yanukovych as the top example of corruption in the world. The violent dispersal of protesters on 30 November caused further anger. The Euromaidan led to the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

During the uprising, Independence Square (Maidan) in Kyiv was a huge protest camp occupied by thousands of protesters and protected by makeshift barricades. It had kitchens, first aid posts and broadcasting facilities, as well as stages for speeches, lectures, debates and performances. It was guarded by 'Maidan Self-Defense' units made up of volunteers in improvised uniform and helmets, carrying shields and armed with sticks, stones and petrol bombs. Protests were also held in many other parts of Ukraine. In Kyiv, there were clashes with police on 1 December; and police assaulted the camp on 11 December. Protests increased from mid-January, in response to the government introducing draconian anti-protest laws. There were deadly clashes on Hrushevsky Street on 19–22 January. Protesters occupied government buildings in many regions of Ukraine. The uprising climaxed on 18–20 February, when fierce fighting in Kyiv between Maidan activists and police resulted in the deaths of almost 100 protesters and 13 police.

As a result, an agreement was signed on 21 February 2014 by Yanukovych and leaders of the parliamentary opposition that called for the creation of an interim unity government, constitutional reforms and early elections. Shortly after the agreement, Yanukovych and other government ministers fled the country. Parliament then removed Yanukovych from office and installed an interim government. The Revolution of Dignity was soon followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea and pro-Russian unrest in Eastern Ukraine, eventually escalating into the Russo-Ukrainian War.