In the last days of November 2013 a crowd of thousands, occupied the main square of Kyiv, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Indipendence Square) to protest against the decision of the Ukrainian government to suspend the process of integration of Ukraine into the European Union. This marked the beginning of the Ukrainian revolution. For nearly two months Maidan remained largely an example of non-violent protest but also ignored by the government and downplayed by national media.
On the night of November 30 unarmed students were injured during a major attempt to remove the protesters from Maidan provoking a wave of indignation among the population. As a consequence, during early December more and more people came from all around Ukraine, setting up tents in Maidan and occupying several administrative buildings near the square including the Kyiv City Hall, the Trade Unions and the October Palace. Their requests were now set higher, demanding the resignation of president Viktor Yanukovych and new elections.
Twenty years went past after the collapse of Soviet Union and the first generation who grew up in a different system than communism is on the square together with the people who experienced both but failed to find any improvement in their living conditions. The latters were on the square to protest against corruption already in 2004, during the Orange revolution, when they peacefully won their protest against an alleged electoral fraud that would have already brought to power Yanukovych. Being part of Europe automatically means not being tied to Russia, protesters hope that European laws would offer a core to human rights and could set a limit to corruption and to the powers of oligarchs. The mixture of the positive hope to be able to change things, as happened during Orange revolution, and the energy of the youth brought in Maidan a lot of creativity. Natasha, 30, a graphic designer, commented: “What communism largely destroyed was the self -initiative and now is incredible to see people finally able to take decisions by themselves and simply do it”.
On the 17th of December the protesters understood the victory would not have been easy when Yanukovych cut a deal with the Russian president Putin, accepting $15 billion and an important reduction in the price of the imported natural gas. While many lost hope the most determined remained. Through the New Year and the Orhtodox Christmas, Maidan slowly became more structured, organized and also politicized. As Yanukovych continued to ignore the problem, many thought that Maidan would have become a school for the art of protesting until the scheduled elections.