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Ukrainians commemorate slain EuroMaidan Revolution heroes, victims of Holodomor on Nov. 28

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Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti was eerily quiet on Nov. 28, when some 300 Ukrainians gathered to remember two of the darkest episodes in Ukraine's history: the gunning down of EuroMaidan protesters and the starvation of millions in the Holodomor famine.

Some of those who payed their respects to the victims focused on lighting candles for a memorial, while others wandered
around looking for familiar faces.

“I hope to
see more people coming here tomorrow, Nov. 29, (when the dispersal happened),” said Vadym Dunda, a 17-year-old student. “But I’m glad to be here today. When I was on my way to Maidan (today) – I
recalled it all, I saw it like a movie.”

The area wasn’t quite so
silent on the night of Nov. 29, 2013, when the EuroMaidan protests erupted. “I still remember that night,” Dunda said.

He was one
of many demonstrators beaten in the early hours of Nov. 30, 2013, when police
forcefully broke up a large gathering of protesters.

“But it wasn’t as cold as
today,” Dunda added with a smile, covering up with a Ukrainian flag.

“I was
sitting in a tent when Berkut (riot police) encircled the protesters. Later they started beating
the girls with truncheons, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Dunda recalled. “They didn’t let us out, but thanks to some normal
officers in Kyiv police who helped us to make a corridor – at least the women were able to
escape.”

The
incident was marked as one of the most blatant cases of non-lethal
police brutality in Ukraine’s recent history.

Investigators have said that ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by the protests, had personally ordered the crackdown on protesters on Nov. 30,
according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office.

On
Nov. 17, investigators concluded
that there were no legal grounds to disperse the protesters that day, and there was no
relevant court ruling.

As a result of the crackdown, over 300 people were forcefully ousted from the square, and 84 activists, including 17 students, were
beaten up, according to Serhiy
Horbatiuk, who heads the Prosecutor General’s Office specialized investigations
department.

“The
revolution began for me that night,” Dunda said, adding that he was lucky
enough to have only his leg hit by a truncheon.

“I remember
how young girls carried heavy bags with rocks, and the March of Millions on Dec. 8
(when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets as the opposition
called for Yanukovych to fire his cabinet), and then the first killings,” Dunda said.
His voice trembleed as he remembered Ustym Holodnyuk, a 19-year-old activist from Zbarazh, who was killed on Feb. 20.

“I don’t
know how to describe it – you know the person, you have been together through the whole revolution and later he’s killed,” he said.

He is
less hopeful today than he was two years ago: “I don’t know whether Maidan has won or
not, but at least we showed everyone that we can stand up for our rights.”

Others
shared his sentiment.

“I don’t want
to change the world anymore,” Oleksandra Nizelska, a native of Kyiv, said. “We
should change ourselves, because it (change) still hasn’t happened.”

Nizelska
believes the EuroMaidan Revolution was the first step towards what she called a “better
future,” but she acknowledged that “the best people gave their
lives on Maidan.”

“Now it’s
up to us – and not only to the people in power – to change the situation,” she
added. Nizelska started volunteering on Maidan Nezalezhnosti on Nov. 30. “Everything
started for me that night. Later I lost 12 friends here. It’s painful, that’s
why I don’t watch any documentaries about Maidan, because this wound is still open.”

Belarus
native Andrei Ihnatchik, an active EuroMaidan Revolution supporter who now
lives in Kyiv, said while people get frustrated with the government, “you should not
wait for others or look up to Europeans and expect them to do your homework.”

The
organizers of the event, together with pop singer Ruslana, who spent months supporting
the protesters daily in Kyiv during the
revolution, called on those present at the memorial not to share political mottos during the
event.

Instead of any political sentiments, priests held a service in memory of the slain EuroMaidan Revolution protesters and the victims of the Holodomor famine.

“Anyway, I
know we’ll be fine – even though now we’re all depressed – but we’ll make it together,” Nizelska said.

Kyiv Post staff writer Olena Goncharova can be reached at goncharova@kyivpost.com.

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