Dignity and Freedom Day: Ukraine marks the date of the beginning of two revolutions. Interesting facts
Every year on November 21, Ukraine honors the participants of two major historical events - the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14. The holiday was established in 2014 and was named the Day of Dignity and Freedom.
OBOZ.UA tells the story of the two revolutions. And tells the facts that every Ukrainian should know.
History of the holiday
The memorable date was established by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in 2005. Back then, November 22 was chosen as the date of Freedom Day - it was on this day that people came to Independence Square for the first time to protest against the falsification of the results of the second round of the presidential election. Viktor Yushchenko actually won the election, but it was attributed to Viktor Yanukovych, so Ukrainians began to defend their choice.
When Yanukovych became president, he canceled the holiday. He also canceled the celebration of Unity Day in 2011. Instead, he introduced the Day of Unity and Freedom and set it for January 22.
Ukraine rose up against Yanukovych for the second time on November 21, 2013, after his government decided to suspend preparations for the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Initially, the events were called Euromaidan. But after the shooting of protesters by security forces, the death of the Heavenly Hundred, and Yanukovych's escape, the large-scale protests were called the Revolution of Dignity.
After the victory of Euromaidan, Russia for the first time carried out open aggression against Ukraine, annexing Crimea and unleashing hostilities in the east of the country. To support the protesters and honor their courage, President Petro Poroshenko introduced the Day of Dignity and Freedom on the day the protests began in 2013.
A separate holiday is celebrated in Ukraine on February 20. On this date, Poroshenko appointed the Day of Remembrance of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes. It was then that most protesters were killed in 2014.
Facts about the Revolution of Dignity
During the Revolution of Dignity, many bright and symbolic actions took place. And some of its events went down in history forever.
A letter to the "Donetsk Sultan"
On November 27, Euromaidan activists wrote an appeal to Viktor Yanukovych on a 100-meter-long scroll. In it, they explained why Ukraine should continue its course toward European integration and gave the government advice.
A human chain to Przemyśl
To symbolically connect Ukraine with Europe, on November 29, people formed a human chain that stretched from Kyiv to Przemyśl, Poland. It passed through Zhytomyr, Rivne, Lviv, and Shehynia on the Polish border. The chain was 625 kilometers long.
March of a million
The protests gained new momentum after the brutal beating of activists, mostly students, on November 30, 2013. This was the first attempt to disperse Euromaidan by force, which further united the protesters. And on December 8, more than a million people came to the People's Viche on Independence Square. They decided to start blocking the Presidential Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers, and other institutions.
St. Michael's bell ringing
On the night of December 10-11, units of the Internal Troops and Berkut again tried to disperse the protesters by force. Ivan Sydor, a deacon of St. Michael's Cathedral, began to warn people of the approaching danger, and with the blessing of the monastery's abbot, Abbot Agapit, he began to ring the church bells. The last time such a chime sounded over Kyiv was in 1240, when the Tatar-Mongol horde was standing near the city. Subsequently, St. Michael's Monastery became one of the key places where protesters could hide and rest, and where the wounded on the Maidan and the bodies of the dead were taken.
A choir of 200,000 people performing the national anthem
An important symbolic action was the performance of the Ukrainian national anthem by protesters on December 14. About 200,000 people sang "Ukraine has not yet died..." together, shining flashlights on their phones.
On the day of Epiphany, which was celebrated on January 19, a peaceful protest turned into an armed confrontation. Dissatisfied with the adoption of the dictatorial "laws of January 16," the protesters marched to the Verkhovna Rada. Units of the Internal Troops and Berkut blocked their way, which resulted in a violent confrontation. There were no casualties that day, but the tension was so high that the events were symbolically called the "Epiphany".
Shooting of protesters
A month later, on the night of February 20, Berkut launched a particularly brutal attempt to disperse Euromaidan. But at some point, the security forces abandoned their positions and moved up Instytutska Street. People followed them and were effectively trapped. Snipers began to open fire on the crowd. The death toll that day reached dozens.
On February 21, President Yanukovych signed an agreement with opposition leaders Arsenii Yatsenyuk, Vitali Klitschko, and Oleh Tiahnybok to resolve the crisis. The document provided for several steps to restore constitutional order and elect a new government in Ukraine. However, the Euromaidan participants were not satisfied with the fact that the document did not provide for the immediate removal of Yanukovych from the presidency. But then people did not know that he was already preparing to flee Kyiv. On the 19th, he started taking valuables and documents out of his residence in Mezhyhirya. Yanukovych himself left the residence in the evening of February 21. He flew from Kyiv to Kharkiv, then moved to Crimea and fled to Russia. On February 22, the Verkhovna Rada removed him from the presidency and called new elections for May, and the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov became the interim head of state.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA published a collection of Maidan songs dedicated to the Day of Dignity and Freedom.