KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday linked historic pro-democracy protests in Kyiv one decade ago to the invasion of Ukraine, describing the demonstrations on Maidan square as the “first victory” of the war with Russia.
The pro-European protest movement — in which around 100 civilians died in violent clashes with security forces in the capital — ultimately led to the ouster of Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.
“The first victory in today’s war took place. A victory against indifference. A victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity,” Zelensky said in a statement marking the 10-year anniversary of the months-long protest movement.
The Maidan protests erupted in late 2013 when Yanukovych ditched an association agreement trade deal with the European Union and subsequently sparked a separatist conflict in the east of the country.
Zelensky praised his country’s progress towards gaining European Union membership since Russian forces launched a fully-fledged invasion in February 2022.
“Year after year, step by step, we do our best to ensure that our star shines in the circle of stars on the EU flag, which symbolises the unity of the peoples of Europe. The star of Ukraine,” he said.
The EU’s executive recommended earlier this month opening formal membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova and suggested that the bloc’s 27 member states should grant Georgia candidate status.
The Kremlin however described the Maidan protests as an attempt to topple the government with the backing of foreign powers.
“It was a coup. It was an overthrow of the authorities that was sponsored from abroad. Things need to be called by their names,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
He said Russia’s goal was to continue with its invasion of Ukraine, after last year announcing the unilateral annexation of four Ukrainian territories, over which it still does not have full military control.
The United Nations meanwhile said on Tuesday that more than 10,000, including more than 560 children, had been killed and over 18,500 wounded since Russia invaded.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine noted that the real figure was likely to be “significantly” higher, given complications in verifying deaths.




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