To Those Who Say Ukraine’s Euromaidan Was Fake: Why Did Yanukovych Flee, While Zelenskiy Stays?

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The actor and thoughtful commentator Russell Brand, echoing Putin, says that Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution of 2014 was «a US-backed, far right–led revolution.» And he says that revolution got us into «the situation we find ourselves in today with regard to the Russian invasion.»
photo: atlanticcouncil.org

photo: atlanticcouncil.org

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By Joe Lindsley

He is right about the second point: The Revolution of Dignity is why Russia has invaded Ukraine: Putin the tyrant is set on suppressing a free people, lest Russians get any ideas. But Russell Brand is wrong about the first point: Maidan, also called the Revolution of Dignity, wasn’t a far-right revolution organized by America.

Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution was an extraordinarily democratic moment. During that winter revolution, the people in the streets stood their ground demanding self-determination. Initially, people protested because they feared Ukraine was turning toward Russia, away from liberal Europe. This is hardly a neo-Nazi stance.

When Yanukovych’s secret police, the Berkut, began to beat and eventually kill the protesters, it awakened the nation, who came to stand against tyranny.

But the people didn’t flinch and the then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, a pal of Putin, fled to Russia, afraid of the people. He didn’t believe in an idea called Ukraine enough to stay. 

Now Putin and Yanukoych, who fled, want Ukraine back. But Zelenskiy, and millions of other Ukrainians, that is, the people who actually live here, the people who speak the language, risk their lives by staying in Ukraine. And unlike the fleer Yanukovych, the Ukrainians face a danger more hazardous than people standing in the street: indiscriminate Russian shelling. Still, the people stay and fight, because this is their country, Maidan was their revolution.

«Ukrainians very much are appreciative of their liberty, of their freedom,» says Daiana Pankova, a lawyer in Kharkiv, which has experienced some of Russia’s worst assults. «We’re just not capable of living in the same conditions and in the same mentality as Russian society is used to living in.» 

But Putin’s narrative, now echoed by Tucker Carlson, Russell Brand, some top American politicians, etc., says that the Revolution of Dignity was imposed upon the Ukrainian people. And Putin comes as the liberator. 

I’ve lived here two years, and I’ve visited many times before. I’ve seen how the Revolution has touched the lives of every person I know well here: Since 2014, Ukraine has had an awakening of language, culture, free press, free media, creativity, confidence, and most especially liberty. 

The world might have missed this: All they saw for a long while was Chornobyl and all they see now is some cities in ruins. This is likely Putin’s goal: to obliterate a flourishing free country likely embarrassed him by its peace, success, serenity. 

Ukraine is the freest and freest-speaking country I have experienced, even in war. 

The Revolution of Dignity is a threat to people in power everywhere. And it is real: It is Ukraine’s superpower, evidenced by the fierceness of Ukrainians in this existential moment. They will fight for it because it is theirs, not the CIA’s or some elite experiment. 

You will find, on closer inspection, the elites might just seem to hate the idea of Maidan.

By Joe Lindsley

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

 



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