The Ukrainian revolution, Euromaidan Revolution or Revolution of Dignity took place in Ukraine in February 2014, when a series of violent events involving protesters, riot police, and unknown shooters in the capital, Kiev, culminated in the ousting of Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych.
The events were followed by a series of changes in Ukraine’s sociopolitical system, including the formation of a new interim government, the restoration of the previous constitution, and a call to hold impromptu presidential elections within months. Fifty seven percent of people in the government-controlled east regard the change in power as an “illegal armed coup”.
The protesters fought with crude weapons, such as large rocks and bats, firearms, and improvised explosives (Molotov cocktails), and broke into the headquarters of the Party of Regions. Police officers stormed the main protest camp on Maidan Nezalezhnostiand overran parts of the square. The Trade Unions Building, which served as the Euromaidan headquarters, was burned down. Political commentators suggested that Ukraine was on the brink of a civil war. Some areas, including Lviv Oblast, declared themselves politically independent of the central government.
A period of relative calm in the anti-government demonstrations in Kiev ended abruptly on 18 February 2014, when protesters and police clashed. At least 82 people were killed over the next few days, including 13 policemen; more than 1,100 people were injured.
On 18 February, some 20,000 Euromaidan protesters advanced on Ukraine’s parliament in support of restoring the Constitution of Ukraine to its 2004 form, which had been repealed by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine shortly after Yanukovych was elected president in 2010. The police blocked their path. The confrontation turned violent; the BBC, citing correspondents, reported that each side blamed the other. The police fired guns with both rubber bullets and, later, live ammunition (including automatic weapons and sniper rifles), while also using tear gas and flash grenades in an attempt to repel thousands of demonstrators.
The protests continued despite heavy police presence, regularly sub-freezing temperatures, and snow. Escalating violence from government forces in the early morning of 30 November caused the level of protests to rise, with 400,000–800,000 protesters, demonstrating in Kiev on the weekends of 1 December and 8 December. In the preceding weeks, protest attendance had fluctuated from 50,000 to 200,000 during organised rallies.
Violent riots took place 1 December and 19 January through 25 January in response to police brutality. Starting 23 January, several Western Ukrainian Oblast Governor buildings and regional councils were occupied in a revolt by Euromaidan activists. In the Russophone cities of Zaporizhzhya, Sumy, and Dnipropetrovsk, protesters also tried to take over their local government building, and were met with considerable force from both police and government supporters.
A turning point came in late February, when enough members of the president’s party fled or defected for the party to lose its majority in parliament, leaving the opposition large enough to form the necessary quorum. This allowed parliament to pass a series of laws that removed police from Kiev, cancelled anti-protest operations, restored the 2004 constitution, freed political detainees, and removed President Yanukovych from office. Yanukovych then fled to Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv, refusing to recognise the parliament’s decisions. The parliament assigned early elections for May 2014