Maidan lives on. On November 21, 2013, we came out on Maidan to defend Ukrainian independence. We came out against Putin, because Yanukovych was only a puppet in his hands. Characteristically, on February 20, when Ukrainians were fighting on Maidan, Putin, in fact, had already launched direct military aggression against Ukraine. The medals for seizing Crimea, which Putin distributed to the Russian occupying forces, were dated February 20 — the real date for the beginning of Kremlin’s military aggression against Ukraine. I have no doubt that if we had not managed to expel Yanukovych from the country, he would have called in Russian troops to Ukraine — not from Rostov-on-Don but from Kyiv. And Russian tanks would have been dispatched to Maidan.
February 20 is an anniversary for us, an anniversary not only of the killings on Maidan but of direct Russian aggression against Ukraine. The struggle for independence goes on. The same young men from Maidan Self-Defense forces, who defended the barricades on Instytutska and Hrushevska streets, are now on the frontline, on the distant barricades in Stanytsia Luhanska, in Shchastia, near Debaltseve, in Mariupol. They marked the February 20 anniversary with weapons in hand in a brutal fight with the Kremlin occupiers. Those on the frontline today include the Kulchytskyi National Guard Battalion, formed from members of Maidan Self-Defense, the 25th Territorial Defense Battalion, commanded by a leader of Maidan Self-Defense, the Chernihiv Battalion, and thousands and thousands of Self-Defense fighters who went east as volunteers directly from Maidan. Many of them died heroically fighting for Ukraine, as others did on Maidan. But our fighters do not weep; they fight. And in this way they are paying their highest respect to their fallen brothers. They know that there, right now, on the distant barricades, the fate of our country is being decided.
Maidan lives on. We must absolutely also conquer our internal enemy — corruption. The same kind of war that the people are conducting against Putin must also be conducted against the evil that is destroying our country from within — corruption.
Maidan lives on. Tens of thousands of volunteers who provided all the essentials for Maidan are now selflessly providing essentials for the frontline on the Ukrainian front — today as before. The entire nation is mobilized in the fight for Ukrainian independence, as it was a year ago. This is the people’s war against the Kremlin occupiers, defending not only Ukraine but the entire civilized world from the savage horde. Maidan lives on, as was true a thousand years ago. And no dark force will be able to vanquish the spirit of Ukraine. Ukraine is eternal. We have overcome Yanukovych. We will prevail over Putin.
P.S. (I am writing) from near Artemivsk with fighters and the commander of the 25th Battalion of the Territorial Defense, Andriy Yanchenko, aka “Vysota” (Height). For many months the battalion held the Debaltseve salient. During the withdrawal from Debaltseve, the battalion fought its way through to new positions almost without any losses.
Commander “Vysota” was commander of the Maidan Self-Defense. Many of the battalion fighters are volunteers from Maindan Self-Defense. A year ago at this time, Vysota and his unit were fighting on the barricades on Institutska. Now they are here on these distant barricades.
NOTE: Andriy Parubiy is the First Deputy Chairman of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Parliament) and the former Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. During the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, November 2013 to February 2014, Parubiy directed the volunteers providing security for the protestors – the Maidan Self-Defense.