Many people think that EuroMaidan began the day after people realized that Yanukovych was not serious about reaching an agreement with the EU. They became fearful of a regression and a union with Russia and Putin. They began to do what Ukrainian people do when there is confusion, danger, and something to talk about. They begin walking to the Maidan. Here it is November 22nd and there is a problem so the walking and gathering begins.
This was true January 22, 1918 when people started to walk, gather and come in wagons with the blue and yellow flags flying everywhere. I know about this, because Dr. Bilynsky a colonel in the UNR army lived with us when I was growing up and told us about it. There was no internet, no social media, no television at the time. This was a huge euphoric gathering, but the world did not hear about it. But the maidan is where they gathered and Maidan is where the reading of the declaration of Ukrainian Independence took place on this date.
By January 29th, it was too much for the Russians to handle. They sent 4000 Bolsheviks to recapture Ukraine and met a group of Ukrainian soldiers at the Kruty train station. Of the 400 men 300 were young students who stepped out to defend themselves against the oncoming Bolsheviks. Over 200 of them died within hours. It was back at the Maidan that this horrible tragedy was mentioned in March of that year 1918.
By 1933 over 14 million people starved in Eastern Ukraine because of Stalin’s planned famine. This happens to be the 80th anniversary of the tragic Holodomor in which 10 million starved to death. Andrea Chalupa said it clearly in a Time Magazine Article from 12/2013 “ Stalin engineered the famine to rid himself of a stubborn enemy. Ukrainians had fought for their independence during the Russian revolution and for a short time they had beaten back the Reds. What’s more, Ukraine being the “bread basket of Europe” had a rich and ancient culture of farmers, who wanted to hold on to their land and their identity. As a civilization, Ukraine is more than a 1000 years older than Moscow. For Stalin as for Putin today, this would be a very hard back to break.”
During the great famine Holodomor, Stalin replaced the dead Ukrainians with Russians who were deported from their homeland in the North. They changed the face, the language, and the work ethic of Eastern Ukraine. This is where Yanukovych was brought up. It is no wonder that his heart is not with Ukraine but with Putin. It is no wonder that he is causing havoc amongst the Ukrainian people. And who is it that is coming to the Maidan to figure out what to do about the future? The students and young people of course. As in the battle of Kruty but today there is internet, social media and communication. This can’t be hidden as it was in days gone by.
By August 24, 1991 Ukraine was again ready for a walk a maidan. They proclaimed independence and tried again to tear away from the Russians who were the Soviets of the day before. By November 2004 there was still a problem. This man called Yanukovych who had grown up in those lands that had lost millions of their people to Holodomor, wanted to be president. He was raised by very pro Russian pro Soviet types. This wasn’t going to work so the people went for a walk. They walked to Maidan because yes, sure enough there was a problem. This walk had some technology supporting it so it got a name. It was the Orange Revolution. Unfortunately those winners were not yet strong enough to hold on to the country. They began to argue amongst themselves, and before you know Yanukovych the loser is in power. He actually had a come back, like a movie star. He incarcerated Yulia Tymoshenko, snuffed out the opposition and found a bunch of cronies like himself and they are behaving as if they were in charge of a drug cartel. They are accumulating enormous wealth and guess where their investments are.? Yes you are right in the West in Europe. That doesn’t sound to good now does it. He is running to Putin every chance he gets and has left the Ukrainian people and the Europeans out standing in the cold.
By November 24th a month ago, over 100 thousand people had gathered at Maidan. They did what Ukrainians do, they walked to Maidan because there was a problem. The difference this time has been internet, social media, communication with the world and the walk and gathering had a name. It had a title. It was called EUROMAYDAN. Outside of Ukraine, 4 people stood in front of the Ukrainian Mission to the UN with signs, we want Europe. UkrainEurope. Word had gone out and the Ukrainian Community in New York the local UCCA branch sent out a poster per internet and called the people to gather after the annual Holodomor Mass at St. Patricks Cathedral on 5th Ave. The Maidan became global. It traveled from Ukraine to St. Patricks and the Ukrainian Mission. By Sunday scores of cities were uniting with Maidan. It began to have an identity. EUROMAIDAN became a new word. Slava Ukrayini , Heroyam Slava became the new greeting of EuroMAIDAN sympathizers. A movement was born.
Identifying posters were made and shared all over the world. e.g. I’m Ukrainian I can’t keep Calm, and Ukraine belongs to EU, and No to Russia Yes to EU and many many more. During the Maidan issues were discussed. Politicians came to speak. World leaders came to speak. It became newsworthy and slowly the world press began to mention that something was happening in KYIV.
By November 30th Berkut the riot police came out and started beating on the peaceful protesters and students. The ones taken to prison became known as The Bankova Prisoners because that is the street they were beaten on. #Euromaidan FB page SOS was set up to offer free legal assistance and it still works today. The most recent arrests and assaults have been the stabbing of Dmytro Prypets in Kharkiv, Pavlo Mazurenko in Maidan and Tatyana Chornovol on Christmas Day December 25th.
To date no one has been prosecuted for the November 30 and December 1st attacks. Tomorrow will be the one month anniversary. On December 25th UDAR Klichko’s party put together a list of 80 perpetrators for the attacks on the peaceful demonstrators. This information can be found on klichko.org web site.
Later Yanukovych visited Russia on December 6th smiling all the way. This spurs on a huge march to Maidan and by December 8th on Sunday Lenin is toppled over. The last of the big Lenin statues in Kyiv. The riot police try to dismantle the barricades to no avail. After the December 1st attacks the people barricaded themselves in at Maidan. They were not going to be beaten again. By December 10th western diplomats began to visit Maidan and express their solidarity. McCain, Murphy and others to name a few. On December 14th during the Okean Elzy performance the light show the people put on was spectacular. The lifting of the phones for Heroyam Slava was wonderful. McCain saw this we all did. By the 17th Russia and Ukraine had signed an agreement and Maidan continues to draw people. There is still a big problem, and that is Ukraine does not want to be in any kind of union with Russia.
As long as there is a problem, Maidan will continue. Why? Because that’s who we are. That’s what we do. Ukrainians get together and talk about problems. This goes back to Kozak times. The Kozaks practiced democracy long before there was a Ukraine.
We the Ukrainian people will make it through this one as well. Why because the young people don’t want to play this game any longer. I have seen it for myself. No one under 30 wants PUTIN.
Halyna Klymuk Chomiak
P.S. This was written in December 2013 when I realized people in New York didn’t understand what was happening in Ukraine and what what Maidan. They didn’t understand that it is when there is trouble in Ukraine, Ukrainians come out in their capital city and let it be know. This happened in 1914, 1918 and 2004 and 2014 and many many more times. This is what Ukrainian people do. The cause of all the disturbance is Russia trying to occupy and control Ukraine, and Ukrainian thought. In January I went to Kyiv and stayed there till April. I witnessed what Ukrainian people will stand for, and I witnessed Putin’s aggression and Russia’s passivity towards their country invading and killing innocent people. The pictures here show that not much has changed since the early 1900’s. Yet now the world knows and is standing by and watching.
Halyna Klymuk June 2015