Euromaidan: The Battle for Ukraine [Storymap]

On November 21, 2013, a large crowd descended on Kiev’s Independence Square to protest the government’s decision to suspend a landmark trade pact with the European Union in favor of closer relations with Moscow. The demonstration swelled from a few hundred people to thousands, and was punctuated by speeches from opposition leaders determined to distance Ukraine from Russia.

It was the birth of a movement that would see the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, and the replacement of his cabinet with some of the same opposition politicians who started it all.

This initial success came at a price, with some 71 activists and 15 police officers killed at the height of clashes in Kiev. Furthermore, the sentiments driving the Euromaidan protests were very much those of western Ukraine. The movement soon laid bare the extent of the country’s east-west divide, with devastating consequences. Yanukovych’s ouster created a political crisis in Crimea, which culminated in the annexation of the region by Russia.

Rebels held elections in Luhansk and Donetsk, in a move to set up an independent government. Unrest between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists in the east continues despite a ceasefire agreement. According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have lost their lives since the conflict started, and a million people have been displaced. Among the casualties were the passengers of a commercial airliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down near the eastern Ukrainian town of Hrabove on July 17, killing all 298 on board.

Archival footage tells the story of a year of chaos that has traced its way from the heart of Ukraine’s capital to the country’s easternmost border, and back.

Text by Eliza Mackintosh, Storyful.

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