On February 17, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution calling the pro-democracy Euro-Maidan protests of 2013-2014 – known as the Revolution of Dignity – a significant nation-building moment in the country’s history.
“The Revolution of Dignity is one of the key moments of Ukrainian state-building and an expression of the national idea of freedom,” reads a portion of the resolution, which was supported by 295 lawmakers in the Verkhovna Rada. Sadly, 17 members of parliament from the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life voted against the resolution.
Meanwhile, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia at the height of the protests in February 2014, has once again called the Revolution of Dignity a “coup d’état.” In response to the Rada’s resolution, Mr. Yanukovych released a statement that was posted on Facebook by his lawyer, Vitaliy Serdyuk, on February 18.
“Today, the Verkhovna Rada has passed a resolution on the so-called ‘Revolution of Dignity,’ in reality an armed coup d’état in 2014. This controversial move is once again splitting Ukrainian society, dividing it into winners and losers,” Mr. Yanukovych said in the statement.
“The Maidan events are called ‘a milestone moment of building the Ukrainian state, promoting the national idea of freedom,’” Mr. Yanukovych said. “Taking into account the events of the last seven years in the history of Ukraine, such wording sounds like mockery,” the ex-president said, adding that the Maidan continues to split the country after seven years.
Clearly, the Rada’s resolution struck a nerve with the disgraced former president, and we can assume by extension that Russian President Vladimir Putin is himself none too thrilled with the idea that parliament rightfully identified the Revolution of Dignity as a nation-building moment in Ukrainian history. Such steps chip away at Mr. Putin’s goal of convincing people that they are first and foremost part of a Ruski Mir (the Russian World) and not part of an independent, democratic Ukrainian state.
It is disappointing to learn that the effort to further honor those who died during the Revolution of Dignity with a memorial and museum complex in Kyiv has stalled. An investigation of the killing of protesters during the Revolution – including those known as the Heavenly Hundred – is incomplete and the site of the future complex is part of the ongoing investigation. While we are well aware of the challenges involved, completing both the investigation of the killings that occurred during Euro-Maidan as well as the memorial and museum complex is a crucial step for Ukraine.
Historical memory is a very powerful tool. It can help a country solidify its own unique identity and national consciousness. While it is encouraging to hear that the Rada passed a resolution calling the Revolution of Dignity a significant nation-building moment, a physical museum and monument located in the heart of the nation’s capital would be a far more powerful symbol. We believe that there is something we can all do to help. Our global Ukrainian diaspora and their various representative organizations can help lobby the Ukrainian government on this issue, and call for both the completion of a thorough and conclusive investigation into the killings that occurred during Euro-Maidan, as well as the building of a memorial and museum complex dedicated to the Revolution of Dignity.