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Euromaidan “key event of state-building,” states Ukrainian Parliament to repel Russian propagandists

On Independence square in Kyiv during the Revolution of Dignity, 20 February 2014.
Euromaidan “key event of state-building,” states Ukrainian Parliament to repel Russian propagandists
The Ukrainian parliament has adopted a statement recognizing Euromaidan, or the Revolution of Dignity, “as one of the key moments of Ukrainian state-building and expression of the national idea of freedom.” This happened on 17 February, before the seventh anniversary of the tragic shooting in Maidan, when law enforcement killed at least 118 people commemorated as the Heaven’s Hundred.

Condemning the actions of Yanukovych’s regime and commemorating the protesters who perished during the revolution, the statement offers a legislative rebuttal to pro-Russian propagandists spreading the myth of Euromaidan being a coup d’etat.

The “Revolution of Dignity” is a common perception of 2014 events by most Ukrainians, who commemorate those killed in the public uprising each year. Nonetheless, the statement is significant from the judicial and political viewpoints. It offers a response to the growing activity of pro-Russian propagandists in and outside Ukraine who try to denigrate the Revolution of Dignity, portraying it as a coup d’etat that undermines Ukrainian statehood, the initiator of the statement MP Oleksandra Ustinova says.

Importantly, while Russian propaganda asserts only half of Ukraine aligned with the protesters during the Euromaidan revolution, the parliamentary statement was approved by a strong majority from all parties, except for the Oppositional Platform – For Life.

All parties except the Opposition Platform – For Life and one MP from the Servant of the People voted in favor. Screenshot from the Rada livestream

We have translated the statement, which is the first political assessment of the Revolution of Dignity by the Ukrainian parliament, below.

The very adoption of the parliament by 295 MPs was itself spectacular. Several pro-Russian MPs questioned the significance of Euromaidan and received a strong rebuttal. In particular, Maksym Buzhanskyi, the only MP from the presidential party Servant of the People who voted against the statement, claimed that “the half of the country doesn’t agree it [Euromaidan] was the Revolution of Dignity and thinks it was a coup d’etat,” summoning the widespread Kremlin narrative. However, he was met with whistles.

The address of  Oleksandra Ustinova, an MP from the Voice party, followed. She asked all MPs who support the statement to come out to the tribune and show that Ukrainians are united in honoring the Revolution of Dignity, whatever Kremlin propagandists try to say. Literally, almost all the parliament stood up and came ahead except for the Oppositional Platform- For Life. Positive voting followed.

Image result for Олександра устінова
MP from Holos party Oleksandra Ustinova. Source: Ukrayinska pravda

After the voting, Ustinova commented to journalists:

“It is, in fact, a political and legal definition of what the Revolution of Dignity is. Now after the country’s legislature has declared its position, it will be very difficult to prove in local or international courts that the Revolution of Dignity was, as some say, a coup d’etat that pro-Russian forces are now trying to prove through the courts… The position of the European Court was declared back in 2015, when it recognized that this was a historic event that influenced the formation of the state, and, accordingly, that it was not a revolt or a coup. The Verkhovna Rada had to do it to put an end to this legal and political discussion.”

The explanatory note to the statement also says:

“The approval of the statement is necessary to provide a political assessment of Euromaidan events, the Revolution of Dignity, and their consequences. In particular, an assessment is made of the actions of Viktor Yanukovych, Berkut police units and other individuals and organizations that committed illegal actions.”

The statement was adopted a day before the commemoration of the 18-20 February shooting, when mass killings of protesters took place. On 18 February 2014, Berkut police dispersed protesters on the outskirts of parliament and began storming the Maidan. At least 22 people were killed that day.

On February 19, President Yanukovych addressed the protesters with an ultimatum to surrender. The Security Service of Ukraine announced an anti-terrorist operation throughout the country. As a result, the activists in the regions started capturing the buildings of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service.

On 20 February at about 9 a.m, the Berkut police after the all-night storming of the Maidan suddenly left its positions and snipers started shooting at protesters, quickly raising the total number of dead to more than a hundred.

Protesters on Maidan try to hide from sniper shots behind thin wooden and metal shields. Photo: hromadske radio

Following these events, several MPs officially left the presidential Party of the Regions. Then the constitutional majority of the parliament stripped Viktor Yanukovych of his presidency and thus the revolution won.

Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
in connection with the Seventh Anniversary of the Beginning of Euromaidan
and the Events of the Revolution of Dignity

Reaffirming Ukraine’s commitment to the ideals and principles of democratic state-building, as well as Ukraine’s decisive and final choice for the European future, enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, Emphasizing that the usurpation of power by Viktor Yanukovych in 2010-2014 has undermined the foundations of Ukraine’s national security and defense, violated human rights and freedoms, Recalling the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “On Condemnation of the Use of Violence Leading to the Death of People,” the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “On Repelling Armed Aggression of the Russian Federation and Overcoming Its Consequences” and the Laws of Ukraine… Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada states:

  1. The Revolution of Dignity is one of the key moments of Ukrainian state-building and an expression of the national idea of freedom.
  2. The investigation of crimes committed during the Revolution of Dignity must be completed and conducted effectively. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. Further delay in this issue is unacceptable, because unpunished evil is growing.
  3. Ukraine has paid too high a price for liberation from the dictatorship and the civilizational choice to be part of Europe. The heroes of the Heaven’s Hundred – Ukrainians and foreigners — gave their lives during the Revolution of Dignity, defending the ideals of democracy, human rights and freedoms, and the European future of Ukraine. The memory of their heroic feat is part of the history of nation-building.
  4. People, their life and health, honor and dignity, inviolability and security are recognized by the Constitution of Ukraine as the highest social value. Acts of humiliation of human dignity, which took place six years ago in the very heart of Ukraine – on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv, as well as in other places of the capital and various cities, towns and villages across the country, should not repeat. 
  5. The usurpation of power by one of its branches, a party or an individual official, is completely unacceptable and causes long-term serious consequences.
  6. The tragic events of the Revolution of Dignity, the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the ongoing armed aggression of the Russian Federation and its occupation of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts occurred not least as a result of Viktor Yanukovych’s policy and his political regime supported by the Russian Federation and acting contrary to the national interests of Ukraine.
  7. The illegal activities of certain Berkut special police officers, police officers, servicemen, prosecutors, judges, and other officials during the Revolution of Dignity is condemned for it caused irreparable damage to the state and society.
  8. Peaceful assemblies are a very effective tool for public control over political institutions, and the safety of participants in peaceful assemblies of all types and forms, including simultaneous, counter-assemblies and spontaneous assemblies, as well as their right to express their views, must be protected by the state.
  9. The state or individual officials may not arbitrarily restrict freedom of assembly. Cases when freedom of assembly may be restricted are determined by the Constitution of Ukraine and cannot be interpreted broadly.
  10. The European values for which the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred gave their lives – dignity, democracy, equality, and rule of law — are necessary for the normal functioning of society. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine consistently stands and will stand on positions of strengthening these values in all spheres of public life.
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