Ukraine commemorates the Heavenly Hundred: how the name came about and what we know about the patriots

Alina MilsentLife
The Heavenly Hundred and Maidan 2014

The Day of Remembrance of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes is of particular importance in the context of a full-scale war. In 2014, Ukrainians loudly and fearlessly declared to the world and the government of the day that they wanted to live by European values and did not want to return to Russian oppression and influence.

On February 20, Ukrainians commemorate the Heavenly Hundred Heroes. Read about the history of the date in the OBOZREVATEL article.

Why the Maidan started

Ukraine has always been at a crossroads between Western Europe and Russia. The majority of the population supported Ukraine's accession to the EU, but the then government, led by the pro-Russian Yanukovych, had other intentions.

The Maidan began in November 2013. At that time, the Cabinet of Ministers issued a decree to suspend the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, effectively returning to prioritising cooperation with Russia within the Customs Union. This happened exactly 9 years after the Orange Revolution. On the same evening, November 21, the first protesters took to the Maidan.

The protest was peaceful. Ukrainians hoped that the active stance of the majority of citizens would lead to a reconsideration of the decision and a renewed course towards European integration.

But on November 29, Yanukovych officially informed the EU of his final refusal to sign the Association Agreement. Moreover, he said that Europe should "compensate Ukraine for possible losses from the deterioration of relations between Ukraine and Russia".

The tragic Maidan of February 2014

On the night of November 29-30, protesters remained on the Maidan. And the first tragic event occurred - at around four in the morning, Berkut officers severely beat activists. Ukrainians could not tolerate such arbitrariness of the authorities. The next morning, up to 1 million people marched in Kyiv.

The Maidan was declared an indefinite protest. Until January 18, 2014, it had a so-called "peaceful" stage: protests were taking place all over Ukraine, activists were disappeared and killed under unclear circumstances, and security forces continued to carry out repressive measures.

The infamous "laws of January 16" severely restricted the freedom of citizens and expanded the rights of law enforcement agencies to an unprecedented extent. The Maidan moved into a phase of "violent confrontation". The first activists were killed on Mykhailo Hrushevskoho Street in the capital.

The most violent clashes between protesters and Berkut officers took place on February 18-20, 2014. Security forces began to use firearms against people on a massive scale. During those days, according to preliminary data, 83 activists were killed, and 20 more later died of serious injuries.

In total, 107 fallen participants of the Revolution of Dignity and Maidan activists are called the Heavenly Hundred.

Where does the name "Heavenly Hundred" come from?

The Maidan of 2013-2014 had structural units of self-defence - hundreds. On February 21-22, the farewell to the fallen activists took place, and the name "Heavenly Hundred" was first used. These days also mark the publication of poems by Lyudmyla Maksymliuk and Tetyana Domashenko, in which the fallen heroes were called the "Heavenly Hundred". Starting on February 23, this name was heard on all stages, in newspapers and online resources.

Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred

99 of the deceased activists were awarded the title of Heroes of Ukraine. On February 17, 2016, this title was also conferred on six heroes, including four who were killed in the Donetsk region in March and April 2014 - Yuriy Dyakovskiy, Yuriy Popravka, Volodymyr Rybak and Dmytro Chernyavskiy.

Mikhail Zhiznevsky, a citizen of Belarus, and Georgians Zurab Khurtsia and David Kipiani were awarded the Order of the Heavenly Hundred.

The youngest to die on Maidan 2014 was only 17 years old. His name was Nazariy Voitovych. The eldest, Ivan Nakonechnyi, was 82 years old. There are also three women among the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred: Antonina Dvoryanets, Olga Bura and Lyudmyla Sheremet.

Pavlo Mazurenko was the first of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes to die. He passed away on December 22, 2013, as a result of severe injuries inflicted by unidentified persons wearing special forces uniforms. On January 22, Serhiy Nigonyan, an Armenian from the Dnipro region, was killed near the Dynamo Stadium at around 05:30 am. On the same day, Mykhailo Zhyznevskyi also died, having been fatally wounded in the chest.

The last of the Heavenly Hundred, Viktor Orlenko, died on June 3, 2015. He died as a result of complications from a gunshot wound sustained on February 18, 2014, during the assault on Maidan.


Order of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes

The Order of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred was established by the Verkhovna Rada on July 1, 2014. The order is a blue cross depicting a heavenly warrior with armour, a shield and a sword in the centre.

This order was awarded to Ukrainian Taras Bilchuk, Belarusian Mikhail Zhiznevsky, Georgians David Kipiani and Zurab Khurtsia. All of them were awarded posthumously.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told about the history of the Unity Day holiday, which was founded shortly before the war.

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