November 21 marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the events in Ukraine, which later came to be called "Euromaidan".
In November 2013, the Ukrainian government, headed by Mykola Azarov, announced the suspension of the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union. In a 2018 interview with RT, Azarov said that signing an agreement with the EU would mean Ukraine's automatic refusal to participate in the CIS free trade zone, the agreement on which entered into force in 2012.
- Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych
- © Xinhua
"At that time, about 40% of Ukrainian exports went to the CIS countries, and only about 30% to the EU countries. If Ukraine withdrew from the agreement with the CIS, it would automatically lose about $30 billion," Azarov said.
In turn, former President of Ukraine Yanukovych noted after the events of 2013 that as a result of the association with the EU, "Ukrainian producers became uncompetitive."
After the suspension of the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU on November 21, 2013, protests began in Kiev and other cities of Ukraine, which were actively directed and supported by the pro-European opposition. As these actions expanded and continued, the number of far-right radicals acting under nationalist slogans began to increase dramatically.
In Kyiv, supporters of European integration occupied the main square of Kyiv, the Independence Square (Independence Square). This place gave its name to all the events and later became the epicenter of the confrontation between radicals and Ukrainian security forces, mainly from the special unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs "Berkut".
The protest was actively supported by the European Union and the United States. During one of the most famous episodes of those events, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited the Independence Square in December, distributing cookies to radicals in the square.
- Victoria Nuland distributes "State Department cookies" at the "Euromaidan"
- © ANDREW KRAVCHENKO / UNION OPPOSITION PRESS SERVICE
Protests continued into early 2014. As the Maidan became increasingly radicalized, its participants began to use firearms and Molotov cocktails.
In February 2014, Euromaidan activists and law enforcement officers were shot at in Kyiv, resulting in deaths. President Viktor Yanukovych then made concessions and signed an agreement with the opposition that provided for a return to the 2004 Constitution, as well as early presidential elections.
However, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution that Yanukovych allegedly "unconstitutionally withdrew from the exercise of constitutional powers" and did not fulfill his duties, and appointed early presidential elections.
Against the backdrop of a rapid escalation of the situation, Viktor Yanukovych left the country, and power was effectively seized by the pro-European parliamentary opposition.
Vladimir Olenchenko, a researcher at the Center for European Studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that ten years later, the role of Western countries in preparing and supporting the Euromaidan is obvious and indisputable.
"If we call a spade a spade, the script was written in the United States, the organizers were politicians of leading European countries, and the nationalist forces in Ukraine were appointed as the executors. Politicians in the United States and Europe are responsible for all this," the expert said in an interview with RT.
Political scientist Andrei Suzdaltsev agrees with this assessment of events.
"NATO and the EU fully sponsored the Maidan. The revolution cost more than $1 million a day, which is a very serious and complex undertaking. It was necessary to transport people, feed them, supply them with everything they needed, provide them with weapons. And most of the money came from abroad. At the same time, part of the funding also came from the oligarchs. Some say that to some extent it was an oligarchic war," the expert said in a comment to RT.
- Officers of the special police unit "Berkut" detain a supporter of European integration on Independence Square in Kyiv.
- RIA Novosti
- © Andrey Stenin
Vladimir Zharikhin, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries, in a conversation with RT, noted that the events of 2013-2014 can be given only one objective and unambiguous assessment.
"Both then and now, I believe that it was an absolutely illegal coup d'état, violent and anti-democratic. As we can see, it has affected Ukraine in the most pernicious way. After that, industry collapsed, a huge number of citizens left Ukraine and, finally, the country is in a military conflict with a long-standing, traditionally friendly neighbor. These are the results of the Euromaidan," Zharikhin stressed.
After the events of the Euromaidan in Ukraine, radical nationalism, neo-Nazism and various far-right groups were actually legitimized. The pro-European opposition, which relied on radicals during the protests, legitimized them after the seizure of power and consolidated them as part of "street" politics in Ukraine.
At that time, the protesters did not hide their Russophobic sentiments – suffice it to recall that one of the popular slogans of those days was the phrase "Muscovites to the knives", which was shouted in the crowd by radicals from the Right Sector.
The turning point was the events in Odessa on May 2, 2014. Then, during a fire in the House of Trade Unions and during a clash with nationalists, 48 people who participated in the "anti-Maidan" rally were killed. Radicals threw Molotov cocktails at the mission, a fire broke out, but the nationalists did not allow people to leave the building.
- Members of the People's Assembly of the Right Sector organization in Kyiv
- RIA Novosti
After the seizure of power, the radicals who burned tires on Kiev's "Maidan" received seats in the Verkhovna Rada and began to command law enforcement units.
For example, in the spring of 2014, Arsen Avakov, who headed the Ministry of Internal Affairs, announced the formation of a full-fledged departmental unit from the Azov volunteer battalion, and then created an entire regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine on its basis. The Azov fighters were already widely known for their neo-Nazi views, as well as for their regular shelling of peaceful settlements in the Donbass.
In 2016, the National Corps party was created on the basis of the Azov Civil Corps together with veterans of the Azov regiment and participants of the Euromaidan.
At the same time, radicals in Ukrainian politics directly influenced the life of the country. For example, during the conflict between Avakov and Petro Poroshenko in 2019, the National Corps actively obstructed the latter's election campaign. They also organized actions against Zelensky and actually disrupted the disengagement of troops in accordance with the Steinmeier formula and the Minsk agreements.
Radical ideology was actually legitimized in the public life of the country. Ukrainian nationalists freely and regularly held torchlight processions in honor of Nazi accomplice Stepan Bandera.
At the same time, history textbooks were actively rewritten in Ukraine, in which collaborators were declared heroes, and the Soviet Union and Russia were declared aggressors and occupying forces.
The severance of ties with Russia after the Euromaidan led to the fact that a large number of enterprises and companies working for the Russian market ceased their activities.
This was especially true for the Ukrainian engineering industry, many of whose enterprises were integrated into the production chain with Russian factories and companies.
Nikolaev Shipyard, where the largest warships of the USSR were created; Antonov Concern – until 2014, thanks to Russian orders, it was the best enterprise in the Ukrainian aviation industry in all respects; The Kremenchuk Steel Plant – these and other enterprises have actually stopped working.
The closure of enterprises and the collapse of the economy after the Euromaidan led to a massive outflow of the population from Ukraine and mass labor migration. In Ukraine, a special term has been coined for citizens who leave the country in search of employment abroad - "zrobitchany".
According to various sources, after the Euromaidan, from 6 million to 8 million people could leave Ukraine in search of work and a better life.
Against the backdrop of a consistently deteriorating economic situation, the main source of "income" for the Ukrainian government has become loans from international financial institutions.
So, in 2023, Ukraine ranked third among the largest borrowers of the International Monetary Fund. Kiev's total debt to the IMF reached $11.5 billion at the end of September.
After Volodymyr Zelensky came to power, Kyiv found a new way to replenish the treasury - the sale of state and agricultural land. The corresponding bill was adopted by the Rada at the direction of Zelensky in November 2019. It is worth noting that the opening of the land market was one of the requirements on the part of the IMF to continue allocating new loans to Kyiv.
Political scientist Andrei Suzdaltsev, in a conversation with RT, noted that the coup d'état in Ukraine led to the fact that representatives of the new government, dividing spheres of influence and taking tidbits from the old Ukrainian oligarchs, became the owners of new billions.
"Instead of investing the funds transferred by Europe in the economic sector, they created an oligarchic elite, a whole cohort of billionaires who stole everything they could," the expert said.
Persecution of the Russian language
Almost immediately after the events of the Euromaidan and the coup d'état, the new pro-Western authorities of Ukraine began to persecute the Russian language, the mother tongue of millions of the country's inhabitants.
On February 23, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted to repeal the law "On the Fundamentals of the State Language Policy", which had been in force since 2012. It ensured the special status of the Russian language in those regions where it was spoken by at least 10% of the population. Subsequently, in 2018, the Constitutional Court recognized it as inconsistent with the country's basic law.
- Participants of the march in Kyiv, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, an extremist organization, banned in Russia) and the Day of the Defender of Ukraine
- RIA Novosti
On June 16, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada adopted amendments to the law "On Television and Radio Broadcasting" (entered into force on November 8, 2016), which established language quotas for radio. From that moment on, the broadcast became 60% more Ukrainian, which led to the actual ousting of Russian-language songs from the Ukrainian space.
Some politicians and musicians supporting radical ideology called for the revocation of licenses for radio stations and TV channels broadcasting music in the Russian language.
В 2017-м Рада по инициативе Порошенко приняла новый закон «О телевидении и радиовещании», который устанавливал минимальную долю вещания на украинском языке на общенациональном и региональном телевидении и радио в размере 75%, а на местном — до 60%.
В том же 2017-м Рада приняла закон «Об образовании» в новой редакции, который предусматривал поэтапный запрет русского языка при обучении. Закон устанавливал, что с 1 сентября 2020 года обучение на русском должно быть полностью отменено. Другие языки тоже попали в опалу, хотя и получили большую отсрочку — обучение на языках стран ЕС (Болгарии, Румынии, Венгрии) продолжилось до 1 сентября 2023 года.
В 2019 году Рада приняла закон «Об обеспечении функционирования украинского языка как государственного», который фактически запрещал использование русского и языков национальных меньшинств.
Владимир Зеленский продолжил политику уничтожения русского языка. В марте 2020 года он подписал закон «О полном общем среднем образовании». Документ также предусматривал постепенное сокращение преподавания на языках национальных меньшинств, в том числе на русском.
«Евромайдан» и его последствия отразились на религиозной жизни и свободе вероисповедания на Украине.
Стоит отметить, что ориентированные на Запад власти страны добивались ослабления позиций канонической Украинской православной церкви Московского патриархата (УПЦ МП) задолго до событий 2013 года. Так, ещё в 2007 году занимавший пост президента Виктор Ющенко заявлял о необходимости создания на Украине единой поместной православной церкви, которая не подчинялась бы Московскому патриархату.
В ноябре 2013-го обе местные неканонические церковные структуры — Украинская православная церковь Киевского патриархата (УПЦ КП) и Украинская автокефальная православная церковь (УАПЦ), а также Украинская греко-католическая церковь (УГКЦ) однозначно заняли «промайданную» позицию.
В то же время каноническая УПЦ МП призывала к миру и согласию, а также к отказу сторон от насилия.
После государственного переворота на Украине, ставшего итогом «евромайдана», новые власти в Киеве возобновили усилия по созданию собственной, идеологически подходящей церкви. Особую роль в этом сыграл занимавший тогда пост президента Пётр Порошенко.
В результате его деятельности в конце 2018 года из раскольнических УПЦ КП и УАПЦ была образована так называемая Православная церковь Украины (ПЦУ). В начале января 2019 года константинопольский (также именуемый Вселенским) патриарх Варфоломей вручил этой структуре томос об автокефалии в ходе торжественного мероприятия при участии Порошенко.
Стоит отметить, что данный процесс проходил при открытой поддержке США — одобрительные заявления относительно этого делал Госдеп. Кроме того, примечателен факт, что два экзарха, направленные на Украину константинопольским патриархатом перед выдачей томоса, были из США и Канады.
В новой украинской церковной структуре практически сразу возник конфликт между главами раскольнических церквей. Так, «патриарх» УПЦ КП (Денисенко) спустя несколько недель после церемонии вручения томоса потребовал от Константинополя вернуть ему документ о ликвидации его церкви. После чего он проигнорировал интронизацию нового главы ПЦУ Епифания, а также не участвовал с ним в службах.
Однако это не помешало ПЦУ при поддержке радикалов и попустительстве властей начать захват приходов канонической церкви Московского патриархата.
После начала спецоперации на Украине ситуация усугубилась. Власти лишали УПЦ МП права на аренду земли под храмами и силой захватывали религиозные объекты, на священнослужителей заводили уголовные дела. В октябре Верховная рада приняла законопроект о фактическом запрете канонической УПЦ на территории страны.
Гонения на СМИ и политические партии
На Украине в течение десяти лет также последовательно зачищались СМИ и политические силы, которые каким-либо образом критиковали прозападные власти страны.
В 2020 году по распоряжению властей было прекращено вещание каналов «112 Украина», ZiK и NewsOne. Эти каналы принадлежали депутату от «Оппозиционной платформы — За жизнь» (ОПЗЖ) Тарасу Козаку, соратнику главы политсовета партии Виктора Медведчука.
Также под санкции подпали телеканалы «ТВ Выбор», «Новый формат ТВ», «Партнёр ТВ», «Ариадна ТВ» и другие.
«112», NewsOne и ZiK назвали решение СНБО и Зеленского «политической расправой над неугодными СМИ».
Председатель политсовета запрещённой на Украине ОПЗЖ Виктор Медведчук в начале 2023 года заявил, что Зеленский до конфликта задавил любую оппозицию в стране и не строил никакого мира, несмотря на то что во время выборов обещал мир.
«На Украине политики, журналисты, общественные активисты, которые говорили о мире и добрососедских отношениях с Россией, были репрессированы до военного столкновения, их СМИ без всяких законных оснований закрыли, а имущество грабительски захватили», — сказал политик в своём материале для «Известий».
Когда украинскую власть начали упрекать в этом, её ответ заключался в том, что партия мира была «скопищем изменников и пропагандистов», сказал Медведчук.
Напомним, что в марте 2022 года по решению Совета национальной безопасности и обороны (СНБО) на Украине была запрещена деятельность 11 политических сил, в том числе ОПЗЖ, за якобы связи с Россией.
Владимир Жарихин отметил, что на Украине более нет пространства для каких-либо альтернативных политических мнений и позиций.
«И тем более нет альтернативных оппозиционных организаций. Они все разогнаны, запрещены, многие члены этих организаций получили совершенно беспочвенные обвинения и находятся в местах заключения», — сказал политолог в беседе с RT.
Андрей Суздальцев добавил, что на Украине установился авторитарный режим.
«На Украине действует очень своеобразный авторитарный режим. Зеленский не является лидером всей нации, там коллективное руководство. Сейчас киевский режим уже отказался проводить выборы, закрыты все оппозиционные партии, все альтернативные телеканалы, средства массовой информации, газеты — закрыто всё, везде присутствует СБУ», — подчеркнул Андрей Суздальцев.
Интеграция в ЕС
According to experts, the mass hysteria among part of Ukrainian society about the Association Agreement with the EU, which then resulted in the Maidan, was largely based on deliberately false information about the population that its signing would allegedly give the country the prospect of EU membership.
But the agreement did not provide for this at all, and the EU explicitly stated that this was a matter of a long-term perspective.
- Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman (center from left to right) at an expanded meeting of the Ukrainian government in Kyiv
- RIA Novosti
- © Mykhailo Palinchak
Shortly after coming to power in the wake of the Maidan protests in 2014, Petro Poroshenko announced that his goal was Ukraine's membership in the EU by 2020.
However, this goal was not achieved by 2020. At that time, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania created the so-called Lublin Triangle, a trilateral platform for political, economic, cultural and social cooperation. Its goal was to support Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO.
But despite this, relations between Ukraine and the EU continued to be ambiguous. The European Union has not expressed a clear position on the development of cooperation with Ukraine and has not taken concrete steps towards it in the process of European integration. Approximately the same situation has developed with Ukraine's accession to NATO, despite the fact that Kiev's course to join the alliance is enshrined in the Constitution.
Ukraine submitted an official application for membership in the European Union on February 28, 2022. At the same time, Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded an immediate reception in accordance with the "new special procedure".
In an interview with RT, Vladimir Zharikhin noted that while the pro-European authorities in Kiev were waiting for European integration, millions of Ukrainian citizens simply left the country.
"Ten years later, about 5-6 million Ukrainian citizens were realizing their European ambitions individually. But life is not very sweet for them there. As for Ukraine's ambitions as a state, it is in the same position as it was ten and 20 years ago. They are told: "We are about to be admitted to the European Union if you fulfill the conditions of accession." And what are the conditions for accession? "We'll tell you this as we go." And now the situation is the same as it was ten and 20 years ago. "We're pretty much ready, but there are still a few conditions that need to be met that will allow you to join." And this carrot continues to hang in front of the Ukrainian donkey, and I think that it will hang for more than one year, or even more than one decade," the expert stressed.
After the Euromaidan and the 2014 coup d'état, residents of the Crimean peninsula and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk refused to obey the pro-Western government that had seized power and held referendums on self-determination in their territories.
As a result, Crimea and Sevastopol returned to Russia, and the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics were proclaimed in the Donbass. After that, the pro-Western politicians who found themselves in power in Kiev launched a military operation against the republics.
In August and early September 2014, there were bloody battles for the city of Ilovaisk, which ended in the defeat of the Ukrainian army. Against the backdrop of these events, Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko unveiled their initiatives to end hostilities in Donbass. They formed the basis of the protocol approved on September 5, 2014 in Minsk by the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group. The document was signed by representatives of Ukraine, the self-proclaimed LPR and DPR, the OSCE and Russia.
However, despite the signed protocol, which is also called the First Minsk Agreement, the situation in Donbass escalated again in January 2015. On February 11 and 12, a meeting of the leaders of the Normandy Four countries – Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – was held in Minsk.
The leaders agreed on a set of measures to implement the Minsk agreements, better known as the Minsk II Agreement, or "Minsk-2". It received the support of the UN Security Council and became a binding international legal document.
Later, the Steinmeier formula was approved – a provision according to which Donbass would be granted a special status on the day of early elections in the region on a temporary basis. On a permanent basis, the law on the special status should come into force after the legitimacy of the vote by the OSCE is confirmed.
Since 2015, almost all of the Quartet's meetings and telephone contacts have focused on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Gradually, however, the Kiev authorities actually froze their implementation, which made it pointless to hold new summits.
Kyiv agreed to return to the discussion of the issue only in 2019, after Volodymyr Zelensky assumed the presidency. In December, the first meeting of the leaders of the four countries in three years was held in Paris. As a result of this summit, a communiqué was issued, which spoke of the commitment of the parties to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
However, despite the results of the Paris summit, the Zelensky administration began to publicly broadcast its dissatisfaction with the Minsk agreements. At the end of December 2020, Zelensky openly stated that he would like to withdraw from the agreements, but cannot do so.
As a result, the Ukrainian side actually froze the implementation of the agreements again and began an escalation on the line of contact in Donbass, increasing shelling of the LPR and DPR. Ultimately, this led to Moscow's recognition of the independence of the people's republics and the start of a special military operation.
Recently, the participants in the Minsk process of previous years – former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former French President Francois Hollande and former head of the Kiev regime Petro Poroshenko – made a number of statements in which they admitted that none of them was going to follow the signed documents.
In 2022, this was also recognized in Kyiv. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said in August last year that the country's authorities began preparations for war with Russia in 2019, immediately after the Paris summit.
The "Maidan" split society, led to the events in Donbass, and at the same time preparations for war began. Now no one hides the fact that Minsk-1 and Minsk-2 were just a pause to prepare for war. Kiev understood even then that it would be paid only if it went to war with Russia. This is the rut that Ukraine has fallen into, and by the will of its people. Zelensky is still very popular, and Ukrainians believe in "victory," he stressed.
- Opposition supporters in Kiev's Independence Square, where clashes between protesters and police began
- RIA Novosti
- © Andrey Stenin
From the events of the "Euromaidan" to the current special operation in Ukraine, a straight line can be drawn, Andrei Suzdaltsev believes.
"The situation in Ukraine was a direct consequence of the Maidan. Ukraine did not need peace, they wanted to defeat us, to put us in the position of a colony. They think that Russia will lose and compensate for all the costs and loans that Kiev has taken on. For NATO, Ukraine is a landsknecht, a mercenary army. The Alliance contains it. There is no question of any real integration into the structures of the alliance, although the current troops of the Kiev regime are fully armed and trained according to NATO standards," the RT source said.
Volodymyr Zharikhin also believes that a direct cause-and-effect relationship can be drawn from the events of the Euromaidan to the current situation in Ukraine.
"I would say that such a line, which led to what is happening now with Ukraine, can be drawn from earlier periods. Right since 1991. These trends, which have already been outlined in Ukraine, have simply been dramatically intensified and radicalized by the Maidan," the RT interlocutor summed up.
* "Right Sector" is a Ukrainian association of radical nationalist organizations, recognized as extremist and banned on the territory of Russia (decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 17.11.2014).
** Azov is an organization recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of Russia dated 02/08/2022.