An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police during clashes in Independence Square in Kyiv February 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)

Maidan Revisited by Hromadske

In late 2013, one of the most unprecedented revolutions in Ukraine’s history began. Here is how it unfolded via the most important videos of the revolution.

by Devin Ackles, Hromadske International,

produced by Maxim Eristavi

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A Revolution Begins

November 21st will likely go down in Ukrainian history books as the beginning of the nation’s first true popular revolution. The handful of people gathered to protest the government’s decision to move away from closer ties with Europe could not possibly have realized what they were taking part in during those first days of the protests.

Ukrainian protesters gather to march to Independence square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

In the beginning, the protests were small and confined to a small area on Independence Square, more famously known as the Maidan. The usual suspects were on the scene: civil society activists, opposition politicians, journalists, and liberal-minded students. In the beginning, their key demand was rather simple: sign the Association Agreement with the European Union and let Ukraine begin integrating with Europe.

President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov refusal to do so was met with frustration and anger by some Ukrainians. Even though Yanukovych was long considered to be a ‘pro-Russian’ politician, his government regularly touted its goal of signing the Association Agreement with the EU — just as soon as they could work out all of the details. When it came time to sign on the dotted line, they unceremoniously walked away and closed the door on European integration.

Here is Kyiv’s Independence Square, before and after the revolution

Their arguments in the beginning were limited to stating that the economic reforms and losses Ukraine would face as a result of opening up to free trade with the EU, which was part of the association agreement, would be too costly. Protesters, however, were not buying it. Tired of the corruption that had flourished to untold levels during Yanukovych’s presidency, they saw closer ties with Europe as the only way to pull Ukraine out of the cycle of corruption and broken government institutions in which it had been mired since gaining independence in 1991.

This is the story of the movement that changed Ukraine, Russia and Europe. Below you can view some of the most critical moments of the protests as they unfold through the eyes of Hromadske TV’s coverage of the events.

The First Day of Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Protests. November 21

On November 21, 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych suspended the signing of the EU Association Agreement. That night, several hundred people came to central Kyiv in protest. The protests continued throughout the winter months, culminating in the ousting of Yanukovych from office and the death of over 75 protesters.

The Rally That Turned Into a Revolution. December 1, 2013.

On the night of November 30, 2013, Kyiv police attacked a crowd of peaceful demonstrators who had gathered on the capital’s Maidan Square to protest President Viktor Yanukovych’s last minute decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union.

Lenin Falls and Anti-Maidan Presence Known. December 8, 2013.

The protests against the Yanukovych administration were not just confined to opposition to how the then current government was acting, but also tied to a condemnation of Ukraine’s soviet past as well. Protesters pulled down a statue of Lenin not far from Maidan Square in protest of the nation’s soviet history which many felt had negatively influenced the politics of contemporary Ukraine.

Others, however, came out in support of Yanukovych and his government. While it was rumored that many of the protesters coming out to support the “Anti-Maidan” were either forced or paid to participate, their own protests could not be ignored.

Police and Protesters Collide. December 9, 2013.

Yanukovych’s government tried to quiet the protests, first by force and then with draconian anti-protest laws, but protesters refused to disperse and instead erected tents in Kyiv’s central square. Protesters also took over several central government buildings in downtown Kyiv.

During the protests, police stood guard around the government buildings that remained under their control to prevent further takeovers.

Here, the police and protesters vied for territory in central Kyiv with the police trying to push through the protesters’ barricades and the protesters shoving back to maintain their position.

Kyiv’s downtown. January 22, 2014 (zyalt.livejournal.com)

The Maidan Piano versus a Police Stereo. February 10, 2014.

During Ukraine’s EuroMaidan protests, a piano was set up near a line of special police, the Berkyt. While protesters played the piano, police blasted back their own selection of music.

Violence Flares Up on Maidan. January 2014.

In January the first protesters were killed during a protest against the so-called “Dictatorial Laws” that were passed by the Ukrainian Parliament. Protesters Serhiy Nigoyan and Mikhail Zhyznewski were shot dead during the protest rally, and though no one has been specifically been named for shooting them, it was believed to be the police. These were the first deaths to occur during the Maidan Revolution.

Maidan’s Bloodiest Days. February 18–20, 2014.

Over the span of three days, 73 civilians and 11 law enforcement officers were killed during the protests in downtown Kyiv. Here are scenes from the bloodiest days of the Maidan protests, taking place from February 18–20, when violent clashes between police and protesters took place.

Kyiv. January 23, 2014 (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

Members of the police have been accused of using illegal arms against civilians who stood up against President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych’s draconian anti-protest laws, which were passed in January 2014, further agitated the situation.

Individuals who took an active part in the Euromaidan movement and died as a result of the violence are more commonly known in Ukraine as the “Nebesna Sotnia” (Heavenly Hundred).

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