At the end of November 2013, the Ukrainian government has decided to pause process of signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union – in turn, several cities, mostly on west and in central regions, were struck by protests. However, demonstrations were not participated en masse, with several hundred to a thousand people, mostly students, taking part. By the end of the month, the protests had practically disappeared although on several squares in the largest cities of Ukraine, people had been staying overnight. At about four o’clock on 30th of November in main city square of Kiev (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), the special units “Berkut” hit a hundred peacefully protesting students. Majority of the activists hid in a nearby monastery.
Mass protests broke out in Kiev over the next few days – according to police estimate, around 600 000 protesters gathered in the center of the Ukrainian capital. Their main requirement was to punish the perpetrators of the night intervention against the students. A crowd of people invaded the Maidan Square, where they built barricades and tents.
The situation intensified in mid-January 2014. On 16th of January, the Ukrainian Parliament carried the “dictatorial laws” which were signed the next day by the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In fact, this legislative initiative meant that any protest happening from that day on would be illegal in the country.
Clashes between police and protesters followed the signing. Skirmishes culminated on 18th -20th of February, 2014. The government announced an anti-terrorist operation and armed forces attacked the protesters. In addition to “Berkut”, the participation of snipers has been proven. The death toll exceeded one hundred.
Shortly thereafter, President Yanukovych fled to Rostov on Don in the Russian Federation. The Parliament voted by a constitutional majority to dismiss Viktor Yanukovych as President, while the opposition politician Oleksandr Turchyn became the provisional head of state.
Maidan events have triggered a political crisis in the country. In spring 2014, Russia used the period of turbulence to occupy the Crimea peninsula and to launch a war in Donbas in the east of Ukraine. The separatists of Russia are fighting in the region against the Kiev government. The fighting has already claimed 10,000 casualties.
The war in the east of Ukraine continues, the Minsk protocols have been signed to resolve the difficult geopolitical situation, but so far the situation remained the same. The intensity of the fighting has decreased, but is still a common part of the lives of many Ukrainians.