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Understanding Ukraine: A detailed timeline of the Euromaidan protests

By Natalie Gryvnyak, Kiev

21 November 2013 Euromaidan has started. 2,000 protesters gathered in Kiev’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, after news broke that the government were hesitating over the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU.

24 November Massive demonstrations were held in Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti to support the Agreement signing.

25 November Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko declared a hunger strike in support of the Agreement.

26 November A heating tent was installed on Maidan Nezalezhnosti with up to 2,000 people (mostly young people) protesting.

29 November Ukraine didn’t sign the Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. The number of protesters in Kiev grew to 10,000 with the crowd yelling for the resignation of the government.

30 November Protesters on Maidan were attacked during the night (at 4am) by the military police- known as Berkut troops. Most protesters were students. In an official statement, Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Anatoliy Pryshko confirmed that 79 people were injured during the raid, including 6 students, 4 reporters, and 2 foreigners; 10 people were hospitalized. In addition, 7 policemen were also injured.

A demonstration of up to 10,000 people took place at St. Michael’s Square near St. Michael’s Monastery as Maidan Nezalezhnosti continued to be guarded by Berkut formations. Ambassadors from ten countries of the European Union visited protesters at the meeting. Opposition parties Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda set up “Headquarters of National Resistance” throughout Ukraine.

1 December Although the district Administrative Court banned further protests in downtown Kiev, at both Maidan Nezalezhnosti and the European Square around 500,000 people came to protest.

At around 14:00 on 1 December A clash between protesters and police occurred close to the Administration of the President. A group of protesters (later called provocateurs by the opposition) commandeered a bulldozer and attempted to pull down the fence surrounding the Presidential Administration building. According to the Department of Health, by the end of the second day of clashes, 109 protesters were hospitalized with 165 injured in total. Telekrytyka, a media outlet that is describing the situation with the media in Ukraine has composed a list of over 40 injured journalists and photographers, with many reports stating they were deliberately beaten by the riot police while displaying their journalist IDs.

2nd – 7th of December Peaceful protests continued to take place and occupy Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev, with tens of thousands attending, while thousands blocked the main Cabinet buildings. Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk announced a general strike in solidarity with the movement.

8 December A third mass protest in Kiev took place. The opposition called it “March of a Million” with more than 200,000 people coming to protest. After the rally, a group of Ukrainian protesters (later said right wing) destroyed the statue of Lenin in Kiev.

9 December Three central metro stations were closed. In the afternoon Ukrainian police had begun removing protest camps in front of government buildings in Kiev.

The website of opposition party, Batkivshchyna, went offline  following a police raid on their headquarters.

10 December Ukrainian government cut off the power in the Kiev City State Administration used by protesters as a headquarters. Catherine Ashton,the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, held meetings in Ukraine on 10 and 11 December to support a way out of the political crisis. President Yanukovych had a roundtable meeting with all three former presidents: Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, and Viktor Yushchenko.

11 December Thousands of Internal Troops and Berkut surrounded the Maidan Nezalezhnosti in order to clear out all remaining protesters. Taxi drivers offered free rides into and from the center of the city. By 5:13 am, the crowd increased to 25,000 from 5,000.  The barricades were rebuilt after the departure of the police. Overnight, activists formed self-defense groups to guard Kiev’s City Hall.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov requested €20 billion from the European Union. European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly rejected the offer.

13 December Roundtable talks were held between the president, three leaders of the opposition, and representatives of the government, parliament and civil society. During the roundtable President Yanukovych proposed an amnesty for detained demonstrators. A Ukrainian court did free nine people arrested on 30 November. First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov stated Ukraine will sign an agreement on closer ties with the European Union, although not at that moment, but rather after Ukrainian economic conditions improve. Azarov suggested postponing the deadline for some parts of the agreement on a free trade area with the EU which EU officials rejected

14 December Ukrainian rock band “Okean Elzy” staged a huge concert in Maidan with over 200,000 people  attending.

17 December Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed the Ukrainian-Russian action plan, that included: buying $15 billion of Ukrainian Eurobonds, the cost of Russian natural gas supplied to Ukraine lowered to $268 per 1,000 cubic metres and restoration its customs regulations on imports from Ukraine. Opposition parties blocked parliament and approximately 50,000 people continued their protest in Maidan. 

18 December Prime Minister Mykola Azarov rejected the immediate signing of the EU Association Agreement. The protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti continued.

19 December President Viktor Yanukovych decided to pause the Association Agreement.

20December High-ranking EU-officials stated that the EU is still ready to sign the Association Agreement.

22 December Protests continue with 100,000 gathered in Kiev. Nationwide, the political movement titled Maidan People’s Union was established.

25 December Tetiana Chornovol, journalist and Euromaidan activist was brutally assaulted near Boryspil International Airport. Opposition parties accused the authorities of being behind the attacks.

27 December Azarov’s government has issued a law that introduced criminal liability for invading governmental buildings.

29 December Tens of thousands gathered again in Kiev. About 200 cars from AutoMaidan marched on President Yanukovych’s Mezhyhirya residence 10 kilometers outside of Kiev.

31 December 200,000 people attended Euromaidan to celebrate New Year.

1 January 2014 15,000 held a march through Kiev in support of the 105th birthday of Stepan Bandera.

3January  Opposition activists Andriy Illenko and his lawyer Sydir Kizin were attacked and brutally beaten outside of a police station in Kiev.

10 January Berkut riot police clashed with protesters near Kiev-Sviatoshyn Raion district court in Sviatoshyn neighborhood of Kiev. More than a dozen people were injured, alongside the opposition leader Yuri Lutsenko.

12 January Demonstration took place on Maidan Nezalezhnosti that numbered 10,000–50,000.

15 January Once again, courts ban protests and public assembly in Kiev.

16 January Party of Regions and Communist Party of Ukraine pass anti-protest laws which criminalized all of Euromaidan’s methods employed during the protests. The following day, president Yanukovych signed the bills into law.

19 January Sunday mass protest sees up to 200,000 people gather in central Kiev to protest the new anti-protest laws. Protest escalated with people trying to break police cordons close to Cabinet of Ministers. The riots on Hrushevskoho Street have been ongoing from 19–21 January.

Between 21–22 January Three demonstrators were killed during the Hrushevskoho Street riots. On 21 January, the first death occurred after a 22-year old man fell from atop the 13 meter high colonnade in front of Dynamo Stadium while confronted by Berkut police, and suffered fractures to his spine’s cervical vertebrae. The second death occurred at 6 a.m. on the 22nd, where police shot and killed a protester climbing the barricades in the conflict zone. It was reported he received 4 gunshot wounds, including to the head, and died immediately on the scene before being taken to hospital. The third, a Belarusian man, was also shot dead by police. Clashes spread to Lutheran Street near the Presidential Administration, with protesters lobbing molotov cocktails. Activists who sought treatment at hospitals were ‘disappearing’. Prominent EuroMaidan activists Ihor Lutsenko and Yuriy Verbytsky were abducted by five unknown men on 21 January at 4 a.m. from Oleksandrivska Hospital in Kiev. Lutsenko was found beaten in the woods the next day, but Verbytsky was murdered; his body found on 22 January.

In response to the escalating violence, police were permitted by the government to increase measures in stopping the riots and protests. Police were now able to block roads to restrict access to the city, and allowed the use of water cannons against rioters regardless of air temperature, which was -10 C at the time of the announcement. Despite this, some 50,000 came to Euromaidan to show support.

Tanks were reported to be traveling via rail from Chernihiv to Kiev, but government sources claimed they were headed instead to Odessa.  Police also illegally published the names and addresses of all known AutoMaidan activists.

22 January The president presented a number of medals to various figures in the police forces and military for their service in the conflict.

Opposition leaders presented the president with a 24-hour window to give in to demands. Vitali Klitschko warned the government that protesters would “go on the attack” if their demands were not met by the next day

Several thousand titushky (pro governmental paid provocateurs) surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Kiev under the auspice of “Kievans for a Clean City”. Crowd leader Ivan Procenko blamed American financing and interference for the events in Kiev, and picketers then egged the embassy. Later, a number of attendees engaged in an altercation with promoters after they were not paid for their time and participation in the picket.

23 January Police raided and destroyed a Red Cross Euromaidan medical center. Carrying on from the previous night, it was reported by activist groups that television blackouts were taking place across the country to channels which carried Euromaidan coverage, and internet and social media blocks were also under way.

Updated by Gregor Bauer (21/2/14)

14 February After a more peaceful phase, negotiations between the opposition and the government lead to more than 200 freed protesters. Though the trials against them would only be cancelled if the protesters leave occupied houses and barricades get reduced.

16 February Protesters follow the demands of the government: leave occupied houses and reduce barricades. The situation seems to de-escalate on both sides.

18 February The speaker of parliament refuses to discuss a draft of the opposition without giving a reason. The protesters march to the parliament which is only a couple of hundred metres away from Maidan. Severe violence follows. Protesters throw molotov cocktails and stones. Berkut shoot at the protesters with plastic ammunition and throw grenades. The militias show up with kalashnikovs in the afternoon. Dozens of deaths.

19 February The government troops continue attacking Maidan square. Militia and Berkut now shoot with live ammunition bullets. An ‘anti-terror-action’ by the secret service is announced to happen. Though in the evening a truce is announced.

20 February Government troops retreat from Maidan square. When the protesters try to re-establish their old position at the barricades violence escalates. Both sides use firearms. Berkut and unknown special forces shoot at necks and heads – also targeting ambulances and journalists. Meanwhile more and more government troops switch sides. The west of the country is in the hands of the protesters. Members of government flee the country hastily. In the evening at least 75 deaths are confirmed.

21 February In an attempt to end the turmoil, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders sign a deal to hold presidential elections before the end of the year.

Updated by Gregor Bauer (24/03/2014)

21 February Several oppositional groups declared their disagreement with the freshly signed deal. In the evening Vitaly Klitschko, one of the oppositional leaders who signed the deal, was booed at and called a traitor when he spoke on the stage at Maidan. The results of the agreement was declared as not enough and the shaking of hands between Klitschko and Yanukovych seen as treason.

22 February The ‘self-defense’ troops of Maidan declared that they had seized power of Kiev. They now occupied or controlled the Parliament, the house of government and the president’s office. Rumors of Yanukovych’s flight to Kharkiv spread. The police of Kiev declared its cooperation with the protestors.

The speaker of parliament, Volodymyr Rybak, is replaced by a member of Tymoschenko’s fatherland party, Olexandr Turchynov, and – with no counter-vote – Yanukovych becomes deselected as president by the Ukrainian parliament. New presidential elections are set for May 25, 2014.

Yanukovych declares that his deselection was illegal and he refuses to step down. He calls the ongoing developments a coup d’etat and compares it to Germany in the 1930’s.

Yulia Tymoschenko is freed from jail and declares her willingness to run for presidential office. On the stage of Maidan she asks the protesters not to stop protesting.

23 February The newly elected speaker of  parliament,  Turchynov, is also declared interim president. The hitherto secretary of foreign affairs, Leonid Koschara, becomes disposed.

The parliament also followed a request of the nationalist party Swoboda to declare a law as invalid which allowed regions to establish several official languages if more than 10% of it’s inhabitants speak a different language.

24 February The European commission acknowledges the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to deselect Yanukovych as president and accepts the new government as legitimate. The commission also declares its willingness to still sign the contract for association and free trade between the EU and Ukraine but postpones further talks about the contracts until after the presidential election.

26 February The so called Maidan council agrees to name Arseni Jazeniuk as interim prime minister as well as deciding on other members of the interim cabinet.

27 February The interim cabinet and prime minister are elected/confirmed by the parliament. Five members of the new cabinet are members of the fatherland party, three are part of the nationalist Swoboda party. No members of Klitschko’s UDAR party are part of it.

These developments provoke Russian president Putin to invade the Crimea. The Euromaidan protests lead to the 2014 Crimean Crisis.

Featured used under Creative Commons licence and can be found at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Euromaidan_Kyiv_1-12-13_by_Gnatoush_005.jpg

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