Espreso. Global

Day of Dignity and Freedom in Ukraine: Euromaidan 10th anniversary

21 November, 2023 Tuesday

On Tuesday, November 21, Ukraine celebrates a national holiday - the Day of Dignity and Freedom. Ten years ago, Ukrainians gathered at Euromaidan

Espreso TV reminds of the Euromaidan events and the history of the holiday’s establishment.

The holiday was established to honor the participants of two Ukrainian democratic revolutions: the Orange Revolution, which began on November 22, 2004, and the Revolution of Dignity, or Euromaidan, whose first wave of protest took place on November 21, 2013. 

According to the President's decree, the holiday was established "in order to strengthen the ideals of freedom and democracy in Ukraine, to preserve and convey to present and future generations objective information about the fateful events in Ukraine at the beginning of the 21st century, as well as to pay tribute to the patriotism and courage of citizens who stood up in defense of democratic values, human and civil rights and freedoms, national interests of our country and its European choice in the fall of 2004 and in November 2013-February 2014."

The Day of Dignity and Freedom was a successor to the Freedom Day holiday, which was celebrated in honor of the Orange Revolution from 2005 to 2011 on November 22, but was later canceled. 

History of the holiday

On November 21, 2013, the first protests of the Ukrainian public began in response to the decision of the then government to stop the course of European integration and cancel the process of preparing for the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The reason for this decision was the allegedly unaccounted-for consequences of Russia's sanctions.

It has become obvious to Ukrainian society that the country is rapidly moving towards complete authoritarianism with its disregard for fundamental human rights, rampant corruption, arbitrary law enforcement, repression and terror. This is what made Ukrainians take to the streets of Kyiv and then other cities of Ukraine.

On the evening of November 21, 2013, the first protests began. At first, Ukrainians gathered in Kyiv via social media, and later, those who cared came to the main squares in Lviv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Uzhhorod, Lutsk and other cities.

In the second half of November 22, the number of protesters began to grow, and by November 24, about 100,000 people had gathered on the Maidan Nezalezhnosri (Independence Square), the central square of Kyiv.

On the night of November 29-30, security forces dispersed the activists who had gathered on the Maidan. The use of force against the protesters triggered an even greater wave of protests, turning them from pro-European to anti-government.

After months of rallies and violence in central Kyiv, with over a hundred people killed and more than 2,000 injured, then-President Yanukovych fled Ukraine on the night of February 22, 2014. On the same day, the Verkhovna Rada supported a resolution to remove Yanukovych from the presidency. This was followed by Russia's military aggression, which was accompanied by the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Ukrainians on the Day of Dignity and Freedom. 

"10 years ago, we started a new page in the struggle. 10 years ago, Ukrainians launched their first counteroffensive. Against lawlessness, against the attempt to deprive us of our European future. Against our subjugation. 10 years ago, people united not only against something but above all for themselves. Everyone for everyone. All those who after the arbitrariness of force felt that they were also being beaten, that they were also hurt, that these are blows to justice and truth, to freedom, to our common tomorrow. What will it be like if we remain silent, swallow it, and fear instead of fighting?" the President said. 

According to him, back then, during Euromaidan, Ukrainians won the first victory in today's war. The civil society that fought for the freedom of Ukraine won. 

In his opinion, a new round of Ukrainian history is now being created, and the direction it will take depends on our generation. 

"We are strong. We have to be strong. Because people believe in the strong only, and only the strong create the future. Only the strong can be united. United to become free. Free to be worthy. For the sake of new times. (...) Years and centuries from now. When listening about Ukraine as an integral part of Europe, all future generations will ask in schools: how could it have been otherwise? When in our calendar alongside the Days of Independence, Statehood, Unity, Dignity and Freedom, the Day of Victory appears. Victory of Ukraine. Of decent and free people. With a capital letter," summarized the President of Ukraine. 

The Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal also issued a greeting. He noted that the Revolution of Dignity was a key milestone in the struggle of Ukrainians for a democratic and European future.

"Ukraine has survived thanks to brave and caring people. Thanks to those who fought on the Maidan and those who are now defending the country at the front. We thank everyone who contributed to the defense of Ukraine's independence. Eternal memory to those who gave their lives for our free European future," he added. 

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also joined the congratulations. 

"Ten years of dignity. Of pride. Of striving for freedom. The cold winter nights of Euromaidan have changed Europe forever. Today, it is clearer than ever. The future of Ukraine is in the European Union. The future that the Maidan fought for has finally begun," she wrote on X. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock noted that ten years ago Ukrainians chose the path to Europe. 

"Ten years ago, on the Maidan, you could hear the heart of Ukraine beating loudly for Europe, full of courage and hope for a future in freedom. Then Ukrainians chose the path to Europe - today we are walking it together," Baerbock said. 

On the Day of Dignity and Freedom, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė emphasized that "without Ukraine, the EU family is not complete.”

"10y ago, with EU flags in their hands, Ukrainians took to the streets to defend their democracy and dignity. Neither the bloodshed at the Maidan nor Russia's war overturned their European choice," she wrote on X.

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