• These are the participants of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity of 2014, who were killed in clashes with the security forces
• The events of the Revolution of Dignity reinstated the nation's foreign policy course towards European integration.
On February 20, Ukraine honours the Heavenly Hundred heroes.
These are the participants of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity of 2014, who were killed in clashes with the security forces under the direction of Ukraine's pro-Russian then president Viktor Yanukovych.
These events also mark the beginning of Russian armed aggression in Ukraine through the attempted annexation of Crimean peninsula and illegal occupation of some parts of Donetsk and Luhansk region in Eastern Ukraine.
The peaceful protests were triggered in November 2013 by President Yanukovych’s decision to unilaterally delay the signing of Association Agreement between Ukraine and European Union and, instead, to seek closer economic ties with Russia.
Posing a threat to the aspiration of the Ukrainians to join the EU, the former president’s move pushed thousands of citizens inter alia young students to go on the streets to express their disagreement with the decision.
After, the Ukraine Special Police Force – Berkut— had brutally beaten the peaceful demonstrators on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the students protests grew even stronger, evolving into a nationwide campaign not only to support Ukraine’s pro-EU choice, but also to safeguard democratic values, in particular the right to freedoms of assembly and expression.
The authorities had not succeeded in ending protests by by February 2014 and the situation escalated. The law enforcement officers by the order of the authorities started to use weapons against the peaceful protesters, as a result of which more than 100 Euromaidan participants were killed.
These victims of the shootings, who perished their lives for European future of Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity since are referred to as the “Heavenly Hundred”.
The events of the Revolution of Dignity reinstated the nation's foreign policy course towards European integration. Shortly after the shootings, Yanukovych fled to Russia.
In accordance with Ukrainian Constitution, the new elections were set. Thus, despite the beginning of Russian attempted annexation of Crimean peninsula and later Russia’s illegal occupation in the Eastern regions of Ukraine, the elections were held in May 2014.
With the newly elected government Ukraine reiterated its course towards the EU and signed the Association Agreement that opened a new horizon for Ukraine’s closer relations with the European bloc.
All that would not be possible without the sacrifice of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes, who will always be remembered as the saviours of Ukraine’s democracy and defenders of people’s rights and freedoms.
Andrii Pravednyk is the Ukraine Ambassador to Kenya