This weekend in Kyiv, the beginning of the pro-European Maidan movement is being remembered. A timeline from Frank Hofmann in Kyiv.
November 21, 2013
It starts with a Facebook post: "It's going to be serious. Is anyone here really ready to go to Maidan at midnight tonight?" The post came from the well known Ukrainian investigative journalist Mustafa Nayyem. It was his reaction to a step taken by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Ever faithful to Moscow, the leader had announced that Ukraine would not sign the final treaty of association that had been negotiated over the course of years with the EU. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country would provide the Kyiv government a $3 billion loan (2.8 billion euro). Some 1,500 Kyiv residents answer the spontaneous call, demonstrating and waiving Ukrainian flags at Maidan, or Independence Square. The movement becomes known as the Euromaidan movement.
November 24, 2013
Parallel to the growing social media protest, thousands of people begin to arrive at Maidan. Two camps are set up: Civil society gathers at Maidan, and politicians from the parliamentary opposition organize protests at the neighboring European Square. Phone lines between Kyiv and various European capitals are buzzing.
Demonstrators remain steadfast: Ukraine needs to be in the EU
November 28, 2013
Showdown in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refuses to sign the treaty of association at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit. National and EU leaders it seems, made their trip in vain. In Kyiv, protestors at Maidan Square demand that Yanukovych step down.
November 30, 2013
Security units deployed by the interior ministry use violence against students in downtown Kyiv for the first time. From then on, "They are beating our children" becomes the cry of citizens from across the country that are now gathering in ever larger numbers at Maidan. A tent city with its own food, material, sanitary and medical support evolves.
December 10, 2013
During the night, the interior ministry's feared Bekrut special forces unit attempts to clear the square. Activists erect the first barricades. Violence begins to escalate.
January 22, 2014
The first demonstrator is killed at European Square next to Maidan. More critically injured protestors later die in hospitals around the city.
February 18-20, 2014
Dozens of people are killed - the atmosphere at Maidan Square is like that of a civil war. "Little green men" with weapons are seen in Crimea for the first time. It is the beginning of a Russian occupation of the peninsula, which will eventually result in Moscow's annexation of the territory.
One year after the escalation: Anti-Putin protests at Maidan Square on February 20, 2015
February 20 and 21, 2014
All night diplomatic marathon: German, French and Polish Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Laurent Fabius and Radoslaw Sikorski negotiate with Yanukovych in the Presidential Palace in Kyiv until he finally signs an agreement with the EU and the Ukrainian political opposition at noon the following day. Yanukovych flees to Russia and the opposition forms an interim government under the leadership of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Violent clashes continue at Maidan.
May 25, 2014
Petro Poroshenko is elected President of Ukraine with 54 percent of the vote. He promises to quickly bind the country to the EU by initiating a strict reform program. The treaty of association that was refused by his predecessor is supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2016. He announces that he will fight corruption in Ukraine and destroy the network that has been set up between oligarchy, politics and the judiciary.
September 2, 2014
Throughout the summer, what began as skirmishes between Ukrainian security forces and Russian backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine, develops into a full-fledged war, eventually leading to Ukrainian forces surrendering the small city of Ilovaisk. It becomes ever clearer that Russia is supplying the rebels with arms and probably with soldiers as well.
September 5, 2015
In the Belarus capital Minsk, Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to an OSCE negotiated treaty between Russia and Ukraine. However, the ceasefire is not implemented and the war in Eastern Ukraine continues.
Diplomatic efforts continue, visits to the protest camps do too: The EU foreign secretary at the time, Catherine Ashton (middle), and then opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left), in December 2013.
October 26, 2014
Interim governing Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is confirmed in his office in the first parliamentary elections following the Maidan protests. For the first time, some 30 representatives from civil society win parliamentary mandates and form the new, cross-party, "European Block."
February 12, 2015
After months of bitter fighting in Eastern Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin revive the original Minsk Protocol. Beyond a ceasefire, heavy weapons are now to be removed from the front lines. Instead, the Ukrainian army is surrounded in the small city of Debaltseve. The city falls to the separatists. The war has claimed 8,000 lives and some 2.5 million people are displaced within the country.
September 1, 2015
Seven months after the signing of Minsk II, the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine finally seems to be holding. Signatories meet once again in Paris in early October. They agree to elections in Eastern Ukraine for the following year. Many tanks are in fact being removed from the front lines. Still, much heavy artillery remains.
October 25, 2015
Voter participation is low in local elections throughout Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko's party remains the strongest political force in the country. Yet, almost two years after the beginning of the Maidan protests there is a sobering realization that the old networks between oligarchs, politicians, judges and prosecutors are still intact, and that the anti-corruption authority remains leaderless. Criticism from the West grows louder. Many Euromaidan protestors fear that the rebellion against pro-Russian forces will end the same way that the Orange Revolution of 2005 did: With the restoration of the old status quo.