Timeline of the Ukrainian Revolution
34mag joins the right side in the information standoff over Ukraine. We have reconstructed the chronology of events to share with everyone. We present here no emotions or interpretations - just the facts. Remember how the Ukrainian revolution unfolded and share this information with someone who does not know enough about it.
In response to ongoing Ukrainian negotiations with the EU, and with a signing of the Association Agreement (including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) scheduled for November, Russia starts a trade blockade against Ukrainian products. As all exports must go through the most stringent checks at customs, this leads to losses for Ukrainian companies, including those owned by tycoons who back Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. This “trade war” continues till the late autumn.
November 21, morning
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails to pass 6 bills that could have allowed Yuliya Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime-minister, to leave for treatment in Germany. Those bills received support from members of the opposition, as well as European and US diplomats. By this point, Tymoshenko has already spent more than 2 years behind bars. Her access to medication abroad is one of the EU’s conditions for Association Agreement (AA) signing.
November 21, afternoon
On its website, the Ukrainian government announces the decision to suspend preparations for AA signing due to ‘national security’ threats. These preparations had been underway for six years.
November 21, evening
Through his Facebook page, journalist Mustafa Nayyem suggestsa spontaneous rally at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in the centre of Kyiv. That same night, 2,000 pro-European protesters gather at the country’s main square. Dozens of politicians and activists deliver speeches from the newly built stage. The rally continues throughout the night and into the weeks and months ahead. It receives the unofficial name Euromaidan.
November 24, afternoon
The largest demonstration since the Orange Revolution takes place in Kyiv – 100,000 people march from the Shevchenko Park to the European square. Opposition parties start to erect a tent camp outside the Ukrainian House at the European square.
November 24, evening
Non-partisan civil activists remain around the column at Maidan Nezalezhnosti. They have their own protests against the suspension of AA preparations and refuse to use any party banners.
Two concurrent protests take place in central Kyiv. Opposition parties rally at the European square, while civil activists, joined by thousands of students, occupy Maidan Nezalezhnosti. The non-partisan Maidan gathers more and more people while the attendance of the political action at the European square decreases. An unnamed Euromaidan, led by students, gathers in the central Lviv.
November 27, evening
The “political” Maidan accepts an offer from civil activists to unite rallies. Politicians and supporters of the Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda parties put their party banners down and join the rally at Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
During the summit in Vilnius, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’ president, clearly refuses to sign the AA. A video is available on the Web showing informal communication between European leaders, including the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, and Yanukovych. Europeans make a last effort to convince Yanukovych, but he keeps insisting that the agreement threatens the country’s economic security and could lead to billions of losses for Ukraine’s economy. He also complains about “having [had] to deal with a very strong Russia for several years alone”.
Euromaidan stays in the central Kyiv, demoralized by Yanukovych’s response. He has not listened to protestors’ demands. The police prevent the opposition from expanding the protests at Maidan Nezalezhnosti. At the same time, the mayor’s office tries both to empty the square of protestors and get the annual Christmas tree installed with a court decision.
After 3AM, a few hundred Berkut riot police officers violently disperse protestors at Maidan. Their official reason - the decoration of the square for New Year and Christmas celebrations.
November 30, morning
Many Ukrainians are woken up by calls from worried friends and family who read the news about the violent dispersal of Euromaidan. Videos of police officers chasing and beating protestors on the Kyiv streets spread across the Web. Dozens of activists find refuge in St. Michael's Monastery, 1 km away from Maidan Nezalezhnosti. They build barricades and ask for help. From the early morning, hundreds and thousands of Kyiv citizens come to the St. Michael's Square. They bring medicine, food, hot tea and warm clothes for protestors.
November 30, evening
A spontaneous meeting at the St. Michael's Square turns into a 10,000 person rally. The opposition announces its plan to hold a march and protest action against police violence on December 1.
Young activists of far-right movements and football fans gather on the porch of the Diplomatic Academy at the St. Michael's Square. They set up a banner for the “Right Sector”, armor themselves with sticks, and start to practice resisting riot police attacks.
In the same evening, a group of active Kyiv citizens gather drivers to hold a rally in Kyiv. The initiative is joined by hundreds of drivers who drive all over Kyiv in the night and call upon people to turn out at the Maidan on December 1. An “AutoMaidan” group is created on Facebook.
These two movements, born on the same day, will play a key role in the Ukrainian revolution’s victory over Victor Yanukovych’s regime.
Hundreds of thousands of people rally in central Kyiv. The protestors occupy Maidan Nezalezhnosti and block the road. Opposition parties install a large stage and place their staff in the Trade Unions Building they rent. The building becomes the HQ of the national resistance and a large tent camp settles down at Maidan. Simultaneously, protestors occupy the mayor’s office and the city council – with no resistance from the security officers.
On the same day, protestors move forward to the president’s administration on Bankova street, where radical activists are trying to break into the building through the police cordons. After a standoff of several hours, Berkut riot police violently disperse protestors on Bankova, arrest dozens of activists, journalists and doctors. The detained citizens are beaten and put on their knees. They will be the first to be charged for organizing an insurgency.
Despite protestors’ demands to detect and punish those responsible for the dispersal of Euromaidan, the authorities keep justifying the use of force. Viktor Yanukovych only says he “applauds” those who fight for their rights on the streets.
The opposition fractions of Verkhovna Rada initiate a vote of no-confidence. The motion fails by a 186 to 226 margin. Another vote, according to the Ukrainian law, can not be initiated prior to February, 2014.
The “March of a Million” takes place in Kyiv on another Sunday gathering more than 800,000 people. European politicians call this the largest pro-European rally in Europe’s history. The camps at Maidan and Khreshchatyk grow wider; protestors defend the perimeter from police officers and “titushky” by raising barricades. MP Andrey Parubiy gathers volunteers into Maidan self-defence units. They are armored with wooden shields and helmets, and sometimes wooden sticks.
Kyiv is visited by EU foreign policy and security High Representative Catherine Ashton. She holds talks with Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. Later that day, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland arrives in Kyiv.
Despite the presence of Ashton and Nuland – right in front of European and American diplomats – at 1AM Ukrainian special forces make an attempt to violently clear out Euromaidan. Due to night mobilization, Maidan defenders manage to protect themselves and the police have to retreat in the morning. In the end, they make a ludicrous attempt to raid the Kyiv Council building: thousands of protestors force police buses to turn away.
More than 10,000 Maidan opponents gather at the European square for a rally. Members of both the government and the Party of Regions participate. Most of protesters were brought by buses from south and east Ukraine. They leave the square immediately after the meeting is over. The so-called Antimaidan located at the square in front of the Rada under police protection will get activated on days of important votes in the parliament. That same evening, Okean Elzy give a historical concert at Maidan Nezalezhnasti: about 100,000 people attend the rally and listen to the band.
Russia and Ukraine sign an agreement on a bln loan and on a discounted gas price to prevent economic crisis. Maidan activists fall into despondency again.
Journalist and civil activist Tetiana Chornovol is attacked by three assaulters on the road Kyiv-Boryspil. She gets brutally beaten up. Chornovil is famous for her well-known anti-corruption investigations, in particular – about Viktor Yanukovich’s vast property in Mezhihirya outside Kyiv. Later, paper sheets with information on what cars Chornovol can use will be found in Mezhihirya security checkpoint.
Automaidan holds large rally to Yanukovich’s residence in Mezhihirya. Up to 10,000 people take part in the rally. Shortly after this, Automaidan’s activists will become a target of pursuit and assaults by Ukrainian special forces and titushky.
Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate New Year at the revolutionary Maidan.
A pro-government majority in the Rada violates the rules of procedure and passes the Law on Budget, as well as a set of laws that restrict civil freedoms and rights, the right to protest, freedom of media, wearing of helmets during protests, etc. This resolution places most of Euromaidan tactics outside the law.
After appeals from Automaidan activists and yet another Sunday protest, and tired of waiting for constructive suggestions and leaders, a large part of protestors tries to reach Verkhovna Rada via Hrushevskoho street. They are stopped by armed forces that blockade the road with buses and other machines, as well as cordons of riot police. Talks between Vitali Klitschko and police are fruitless and “Right sector” activists try to break through the cordons. They throw molotov cocktails and set several buses on fire. Police use smoke grenades and arrest individual protestors.
The police try to disperse protestors on Hrushevskoho street and arrest dozens of them. There are messages coming about tortures and humiliation. Someone publishes a video of the Berkut torturing a cossack, Mikhail Gavriliuk, whom they made pose naked in freezing weather.
Moreover, another piece of news says that civil activists Ihor Lutsenko and Yuri Verbitski were abducted by unknown persons from Oleksadrivska hospital. Dmitri Bulatov, one of the Automaidan leaders disappears as well.
By the end of the day, protestors manage to beat police attacks back and create a smoke curtain by burning tyres. In the morning of January 22, the first victims of the conflict are killed: Mikhail Zhysnevski, a Belarusian citizen, and Sergey Nigoyan, an ethnic Armenian, die of police shots or grenade splinters. Several days after, another activist, Roman Senik, dies in a hospital. In the evening of January 22, Ihor Lutsenko is found in the woods outside Kyiv: he was tortured, beaten, and kept in a cold garage. Yuri Verbitski was murdered – his body was found in the woods on the same day.
Opposition activists start seizing buildings of local administrations in western and central regions of Ukraine, as well as in some cities of the East, where they try to create People’s Councils – alternative authorities. In Cherkassy, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy these actions result in violent dispersals: dozens get beaten and arrested.
PM Nikolay Azarov tenders his resignation. The authorities try to deescalate tensions: there are talks with opposition leaders, the parliament debates on the issue of amnesty for arrested protestor.
Viktor Yanukovych manages to suppress rebellion inside the Party of Regions, while the party manages to pass their version of the amnesty law. Arrested activists will be freed after protestors leave governmental buildings all over the country, including the Kyiv city council, and the road on Khreshchatyk street.
Dmitri Bulatov, abducted on January 22, is found alive in the countryside outside Kyiv. During his disappearance, he was tortured and beaten. Judging the by questions he was asked by his abductors, his kidnappers could be connected with Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the pro-Russian movement “Ukrainski vybor,” whose children’s godfather is Vladimir Putin.
The law on amnesty comes to force: protestors follow most of the conditions and courts start to release activists for home arrest or under opposition MPs custody.
Unsuccessful talks occur between the opposition and Yanukovych about returning to the Constitution of 2004. The breakdown in talks encourages protestors to blockade the parliament and demand legal amendments. In the morning, dozens of thousands of protestors and the most mobilized groups within Maidan’s self-defence unit advance on the parliament building - but it has already been surrounded by police and titushky. The blockade results in bloody clashes: several Maidan activists and police officers die and the riot police tries to storm the Maidan.
Violent clashes around the Maidan continue; dozens of activists die and the Trade Unions Building – headquarter of the resistance and medical service – is put on fire. In the morning, burnt bodies are taken out of the Trade Unions Building.
February 20, morning
Special police forces and troops start leaving the Maidan and running down Institutska and Hrushevskoho streets. Protestors follow them to fortify and erect new barricades for the protection of the Maidan, but at this moment snipers start shooting them. In less than an hour, dozens of people are killed on Institutska. Their vests do not save them as snipers target their heads.
February 21, morning
The EU and USA impose personal sanctions against Ukrainian officials responsible for shooting at protestors. As a result of talks with the participation of EU, USA and Russia, Yanukovych signs an agreement with the opposition and promises an early presidential election not later than December 2014 and a return the 2014 Constitution by September. The agreement is signed by all parties, except Russia.
February 21, evening
Funeral services take place at the Maidan. The opposition leaders who announce the agreement conditions are booed. Vladimir Parasyuk, a member of the self-defense units, climbs onto the stage and demands Yanukovych’s resignation and arrest. Otherwise he promises protestors will attack the governmental buildings and the president’s residence in Mezhihirya.
February 22, early morning
Viktor Yanukovych and other officials flee from Kyiv. The residence in Mezhihirya is abandoned – self-defense groups open it for public. On Saturday, Yanukovych appears in Kharkiv, then goes to Donetsk, where he unsuccessfully tries to fly to Russia. Later Yanukovych will emerge in Rostov-na-Donu.
The Verkhovna Rada impeaches Viktor Yanukovich due to his withdrawal from running the country. Presidential elections are scheduled on May 25, 2014. Oleksandr Turchynov, the newly elected head of the Rada, becomes Acting President.
February 22, evening
Yuliya Tymoshenko is released from the hospital in Kharkiv. Earlier, the parliament passed legislation that closed her criminal case. Yuliya Tymoshenko delivers a speech at the Maidan.
Viktor Yanukovych appears on national and international ‘most wanted’ lists for ordering security forces to shoot protestors in Kyiv.
A new coalition is formed in the Verkhovna Rada. Arseni Yatseniuk is elected PM. The new Cabinet is formed by members of Batkivshchyna and Svoboda, as well as Maidan activists. The UDAR party refuses to enter the government but joins the coalition and supports new ministers.
February 27, morning
Unidentified soldiers occupy buildings of government and the parliament in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Crimea MPs announce a referendum on the autonomy status of Crimea, while Russian troops, calling themselves “Crimea self-defence” forces, start blockading the military sites and infrastructure of Crimea.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin gets an agreement from the Council of Federation (Russia’s Senate) to invade Ukraine at any moment, which marks possible the beginning of the largest geopolitical crisis of the early 21st century.