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One Year Later: Ukrainians Remember Euromaidan Online

Euromaidan protesters sing the Ukrainian anthem in central Kyiv. Photo from Demotix.

Euromaidan protesters sing the Ukrainian anthem in central Kyiv. Photo from Demotix.

November 21, the official start of Euromaidan protests, has become a day of remembrance and reflection, not celebration, to many Ukrainians. The protests brought a change of power, but also resulted in scores of wounded and dead, and were followed by Russia's annexation of Crimea and an ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, in which Russia is also involved.

The first, small group of protesters appeared on Independence Square in Kyiv on the evening of November 21, 2013, shortly after people learned that then President Yanukovych had decided to drop the EU Association deal. The protest grew in numbers, and escalated on Nov 30, when law enforcement brutally beat the protesters, mostly students, camping out in the Square for the night.

What followed were months of cold Ukrainian winter, heated struggle, lives lost and victories gained. Global Voices covered the Euromaidan protests extensively, following the action in November 2013—February 2014, and after the active phase was over.

Today Ukrainians are sharing their memories on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #Euromaidan and #RikTomu (A Year Ago). Blogger Maksym Savanevsky shared a screenshot of Mustafa Nayyem‘s Facebook post from one year ago, widely credited with sparking the protests.

[Screenshot text: Meeting at 10:30pm near the Independence monument. Dress warmly, bring umbrellas, tea, coffee, good mood and friends. Reposts are encouraged!]

We put together a snapshot of recollections of the events of Euromaidan through the words, images, and videos posted by Ukrainians on social networks and elsewhere.

Words
As people re-read their posts and tweets from last year, they reflected on the tumultuous time and the changes set in motion by the protests.

Myroslava Petsa, journalist:

Taras Demchuk, blogger:

exactly a year ago, i wrote this.
[screenshot text: thinking of going to #euromaidan, no idea if this will change anything, but enough silence.]

Maxon Pugovsky, blogger, IT-expert:

What a year! We've started to really live, and vatniki (derogatory term for pro-Russians) have lost their stability… But we pay with thousands of deaths. Alas, that is the price: Freedom or death!

Kateryna Kruk, microblogger:

Yevheni Kuzmenko, journalist, on Facebook:

Всю весну и лето некогда было вспоминать о Майдане: новые впечатления, новые тревоги, новые герои интервью и репортажей. Некогда было поднять голову, осмотреться.
Но сейчас, когда начинается парад годовщин, Майдан в моей памяти начал оттаивать.
[…]
Да, ребята, это было лучшее время в моей жизни. И я рад, что те воспоминания оттаивают. Это ведь в “Гарри Поттере” воспоминания хранятся в такой себе хреновине под названием “pensive”? Вот пускай моя страничка в ФБ и станет на время хранилищем воспоминаний о Майдане.

All spring and summer there was no time to remember Maidan: new impressions, new fears, new heroes for interviews and reports. No time to raise your head, look around.
But now, when the anniversaries begin, Maidan is thawing again in my memory.
[…]
Guys, this was the best time in my life. And I'm glad that the memories are thawing. Isn't this in “Harry Potter” where you could keep memories in a thing called “the pensieve”? So let my FB page become a temporary pensieve for memories of Maidan.

Arkadiy Babchenko, Russian military journalist, on Facebook:

Не верю, что уже год прошел. Вспоминаю. Все – холод, вечная вода в ботинках, вонь копотной гари покрышек, замерзший смалец на морозе, брусчатка, медики, подготовки к штурмам, раненные, бой барабанов, “Героям слава!”, депутаты, ночь, горящий Дом профсоюзов, вечные разрывы, головная боль от них, Грушевского, Институтская, вонь перцового газа, тошнота, кровь на асфальте, погибшие, пробитые пулями щиты, накрытые одеялами тела около гостиницы… И – перемога. […] До деталей все помнится. Как вчера. Ничего не забылось. Потому что это было важно. Очень важно.
Несмотря ни на что, Майдан – лучшее, что было в моей жизни.

I can't believe it's been a year already. I remember. Everything—the cold, constant water in my shoes, the stink of soot from tires, frozen lard in the cold, the cobblestones, the medics, preparing for storming, the wounded, the drum beat, “Glory to Heroes!”, the MPs, the night, the burning Trade Union building, constant explosions, headache, Hrushevskogo, Instytutska, the smell of pepper spray, nausea, blood on the concrete, the dead, the shields ridden with bullet holes, bodies covered with blankets near the hotel… And—the victory. […] I remember every detail. As if it was yesterday. Nothing is forgotten. Because it was important. Very important.
Despite everything, Maidan is the best thing that happened in my life.

People
People were the driving force of the protests, as they organized grassroots initiatives to coordinate information, food, security and medical help. To remember those who were killed during the Euromaidan violence, Wikipedia authors have put together a list of the fallen, with information about each person.

For the one-year anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity, as Euromaidan protests later came to be known, Ukrainian media outlets created touching profiles of some of the most recognizable (and less known) faces of the movement. Ukrainska Pravda published short, but emotional interviews with Euromaidan activists in its Names of the Revolution project.

Names of the Revolution.

RFE/RL also published a series of conversations with people who participated in the Euromaidan events, titled Faces of the Maidan.

Photos
Almost everyone has photos from their days on the Maidan, and many social network users went digging through their archives to reflect on what they captured.

The best photos from Maidan are out of focus, said journalist Olena Churanova, who shared this image from last winter on Instagram.

На самых лучших фотографиях нет резкости.. Приходя на Майдан после Вильнюса я не верила, что людей будет больше. Мы приходили, стояли под зонтиками, слушали про ЕС и думали, а что же дальше.. Свой выбор показал Янукович, разогнав смельчаков, ночующих под стеллой. В следующие дни свой выбор сделали украинцы. На этой фотографии я была как никогда счастлива и горда, что родилась здесь, на этой земле, среди этих свободных людей. Ps. И может именно поэтому к нам через месяц решил присоединиться Даня. #ukraine #euromaydan #всебудедобре

A photo posted by Olena Churanova (@churano) on

The best photos are out of focus… Coming to Maidan after Vilnius, I didn't believe there would be more people. We came, stood under umbrellas, listened about the EU and thought, what next… Yanukovych showed his hand by dispersing the brave souls who camped out under the stella. Ukrainians made their choice during the days after that. In this photo I was proud and happy as never before, that I was born here, on this land, among these free people. […]

Miriam Dragina, poet, activist and volunteer, said she's sorry that she took so few photos of herself and her friends on the Maidan, as they were “busy with other things” as she posts this self-reflection on Facebook:

Photo by Miriam Dragina on Facebook.

Microblogger Kateryna Kruk reminded her followers of the importance of empathy and humanity in the protests:

Mustafa Nayyem, former journalist and activist, now an MP, also said he didn't have many photos from the protests, as he was mostly busy streaming, and shared this photo of himself at work by Sergii Morgunov:

Photo of Mustafa Nayyem by Sergii Morgunov on Facebook.

Taras Ratushnyy, an activist and cameraman, shared a photo that best captures the memory of the soot from tires burning in central Kyiv, as protesters built fiery barricades:

Photo by Taras Ratushnyy from Facebook.

Urban activist Maria Lebedeva posted this shot from a recent remembrance ceremony, in honor of all those lost in the struggle for dignity:

Photo by Maria Lebedeva on Facebook.

Video

Poster for Euromaidan. Rough Cut. Image from Facebook.

Poster for Euromaidan. Rough Cut. Image from Facebook.


Documentaries by Ukrainian filmmakers, like All Things Ablaze (available to watch online) and Euromaidan. Rough Cut, have been making the circuits of international film festivals and come as especially poignant reminders of the events of winter 2013-2014.

Others, like the Babylon'13 collective, are just releasing their long-form documentary, Stronger Than Arms, to the Ukrainian public, after producing scores of short-form documentary videos available on their YouTube channel.

Live video streams were a key feature of Euromaidan coverage, and outlets like HromadskeTV worked through their livestream footage to create a chronicle of the most important moments of the protests as they began.

Music artists in Ukraine are also reacting to the anniversary of the protests. This emotional music video by singer Jamala and Andriy Khlyvnyuk, frontman of local band Boombox, called “Zlyva (Rain Shower),” and containing intense footage from the Euromaidan protests, has been shared on social networks hundreds of times since premiering a few days ago.

Social media
Social media played an important part in Euromaidan, as protesters used them to organize, mobilize and spread information throughout Ukraine and the world. It's no wonder then, that Ukrainians naturally feel like sharing their feelings and recollections on their accounts and pages on this important day. Whether with grief, with pain, with joy or with hope, Ukrainian Internet users remember Euromaidan as a time that has changed many of them—and their country—forever.

Retweet if Maidan has been the best event in your life.

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