These photographs were taken at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine from January to April, 2014 during protests for European integration and anti-corruption. The “Euromaidan” protests, as they came to be known, culminated with the Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych fleeing Ukraine to Russia in late February after the assassination of approximately 100 protesters on the Maidan. This event precipitated Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula weeks later. While Russia has colored Euromaidan as a fascist revolt and a coup in justifying its antagonistic position towards Ukraine, these photographs stand as an historical record of what actually occurred at Maidan. While the word Maidan means “central square,” to Ukrainians who participated in the protests, the word took on a greater meaning as not only the heart of Kyiv, or the heart of Ukraine—but also as the place where the heart of the Ukrainian people came to be expressed in a steadfast pursuit of freedom.
“The protests in Ukraine on the Maidan were not led by neo-Nazis or fascists. They were led by ordinary Ukrainians, men and women, young and old who were fed up with a corrupt regime and who wanted to share in the progress and prosperity that they see in the rest of Europe. And they did not engage in an armed seizure of power… these are the facts. They are provable. They’re not subject to dispute…. The currents of history ebb and flow. But over time, they flow toward freedom – more people in every corner of the earth standing up and reaching to claim those rights that are universal, and that’s why, in the end, our ideals are stronger, and that’s why, in the end, our ideals will win. Dignity will win, because every human being is born equal, with free will and inalienable rights, and any regime or system of government that tries to deny these rights will ultimately fail and countries that uphold them will only grow stronger…. And freedom will win – not because it’s inevitable, not because it is ordained, but because these basic human yearnings for dignity and justice and democracy do not go away. They can be suppressed, at times they can be silenced, but they burn in every human heart, in a place where no regime can ever reach, a light that no army can ever extinguish. And so long as free peoples summon the confidence and the courage and the will to defend the values that we cherish, then freedom will always be stronger and our ideas will always prevail, no matter what.”
Barack Obama Sept 3rd, 2014, Tallinn, Estonia