Spirit of Maidan
Europe and the legacy of the Maidan in Ukraine
“The Ukrainian word maidan has Turkish origins. Its closest synonym is the word ‘square’. But maidan is a place for discussing and solving problems that are significant for every member of the community. People do not gather for those reasons regularly. This happens only when something goes wrong and a solution needs to be found.“
Ukrainian, President of National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
and Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine since February 2014
"Even in its heyday, Kyiv’s Maidan was not just a place of protest. It was (and continues to be) a space for intellectual exchange; for the formation of new senses, their discussion, acceptance/rejection, and popularization. It is a place where new paradigms are constructed, molded, and engendered in discourse, symbols, and other communicative artefacts – spontaneously, and at speeds that boggle the mind."
Ukrainian, Professor at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
“What I hear in the Maidan is a willingness to revitalize the European dream, to restore its content, give it life. When people say ‘Europe’ here it isn’t a vague word, it means citizenship, it’s means rule of law, it means increasing freedom. It’s a Europe which we too often lose the meaning of in Western Europe, but here in Maidan they are rediscovering its meaning.”
Bernard Henry Levy
French, intellectual and author
"What is now happening in Ukraine is the biggest revolution in this part of the world since 1917 – and it is probably also the most organized revolution in history. A Slavic nation with a population of 45 million has torn itself away from the strangling hold of a post-Soviet authoritarian regime in Moscow. What is now happening in Ukraine will change the future of the whole of the region. Not only in Ukraine, but in the region as a whole. It definitely will make the regimes in Moscow and Minsk more authoritarian, and the human rights activists there will suffer, undoubtedly. But at the same time it will give people hope, in particular the young generation... Lenin statues are toppled by the dozen across Ukraine. It is highly symbolic. Ukraine is now finishing the unfinished business of 1990-1991: it is bringing communism to its final resting place."
Robert van Voren
Dutch, human rights activist and political scientist
The Spirit of the Ukrainian Maidan, a European heritage
Maidan Nezalezhnosti (the Independence Square), Kyiv, Ukraine, EUROPE!
None of us will ever forget the images of the main square of the country with all the approaches covered for months with huge barricades bravely defended by thousands of people who created there an amazing revolutionary movement against a corrupt and dictatorial government and for the Ukraine's entry into the European Union.
The event went down in history as Euromaidan
We all in Europe, including common people, journalists and politicians, talk a lot every day about the principles of democracy and freedom. But actually there has been only a country in our Europe, where a folk kept on fighting whole nights and days even in freezing wintertime for freedom, democracy, justice, independence and human dignity.
It has been Ukraine where people there were really making history, and really stood ready to sacrifice their lives for European rights and freedoms. They proved themselves to be the best Europeans and to believe in European values more than we all in the EU do ourselves.
Ukrainians were fighting and dying for the right to be European and it was the first time in history that people died holding EU flags. And no country but Ukraine had paid with hundreds of dead and several thousand wounded and injured for associating with the European Union. No country of the European Union had lost any lives when the united Europe was created and later on.
Ukrainians’ wish and will to become part of Europe cost more than money, it is priced higher than life. Theirs was not a naive belief in the EU’s virtues, but a profound belief that liberty, legality and decency are much better than crony capitalism and the neo-Soviet bombast of corrupt and incompetent regimes in Eastern Europe, including the Putin Kremlin. Europe, for them, is neither a place, nor a name, but much more, an idea, a dream, a value, a liberty, a life! And that name, Europe, signifies, as it did for the founding fathers of the European Union, the great leap from the ranks of all forms of totalitarian murder.
The desire of the Ukrainian people to break free of a criminal state apparatus that wants to imprison them inside a broken economy that keeps them all poor while a handful of billionaires in power are living the luxurious and far better life, is what has lit and sustained a revolution that since November has seen tens of thousands of people take to the streets in cities throughout the country. The Ukrainians achieved a historical victory over tyranny.
Maidan has stood firm for three months running, has fought and suffered, has lost many of its children, but has won, and moreover has left its mark on the history of Europe. On Maidan, all languages, all nationalities were present, all people from any walks of life were united by a common goal. Maidan was a place of multi-ethnic national solidarity in front of the regime’s repression, and Maidan’s victory was a victory of a community of people being inspired by youth, energy and enthusiasm, willing to free themselves and to rebuild their country in order to grant a better future to their people.
We believe in the power of civil society to create a better world. We believe that all together we can achieve anything and build a better future for our Europe and the world!
We are still much far away from building e real European common house. What we have now is a system of finance and great industry, banks and bureaucracy, but the people, the Europeans, are not the heart of this project by name EU, and the actual outcome really seems to have somehow betrayed the values and wishes of the founding fathers of the European Community. Therefore Ukraine and the Ukrainians are really teaching us all something important about what the idea of what Europe should mean.
So, let’s not let down the message of Euromaidan, let’s not forget the lesson this incredibly mature, determined and liberal movement taught us all in Europe. Let’s make the spirit of Maidan revitalize the European dream, restore its content, and give it life, making the emotionless Western Europe of rules and regulations meet the spontaneous and emotional Eastern Europe founded upon faith in the European idea itself.
A society cannot be built only on emotions or only on cold logic. Both the Europe of faith and the Europe of rules need each other as a society cannot be built on faith without rules, or on rules without faith: faith without rules leads to anarchy, while rules without faith are soul-destroying.
The Spirit of Maidan is a common heritage of all the Europeans and a legacy for any countries and time! We will try to keep the spirit of Euromaidan “alive and kicking”, by following and supporting not only the events in Ukraine and the rebirth of the country, but also the Maidan bearing its fruits in other countries as well as throughout Europe.
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Image up: Euromaidan rally on Independence Square in Kyiv on Dec. 8, photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Image down: a panorama view of Euromaidan rally in Kyiv by airpano.ru