Kyiv, November 21, 2014. A year following the start of the EuroMaidan protests, former activists are telling their stories. They came from all walks of life, all coming to Kyiv for different purposes but united by the goal to make Ukraine a better country. A group of former Maidan activists gathered at Ukraine Crisis Media Center to tell their story and their vision for Ukraine’s future.
The activists came to Maidan for different reasons. Some looked to Europe as an aspiration for a Ukraine with rule of law, less corruption, and a more dynamic economy. Konstantin Magaletskyi, a partner at one of the country’s leading investment firms, stressed that European ideals and the prospect of better business opportunities originally brought him to Kyiv’s central square. He believes that Ukraine has squandered its potential, and that the government needs to look to the United States when it comes to education reform.
Other activists present said that it was corruption, not the ideals of European integration that brought them to Maidan. Oleksandr Romanenko, an owner of two furniture firms, was opposed to the Association Agreement. He believed that the agreement was not favorable to Ukraine and should have been better negotiated. Nevertheless, following the beating of students on Madian on November 30, he joined the movement to protest corruption and abuse of power. Other speakers echoed similar sentiments. Lana Sinichkina, from Sevastopol, protested against the deep corruption of the state, of which she believed Yanukovych was merely a symbol for. “Maidan was not against Yanukovych as such, but against the state,” she said. “He was just the tip of the iceberg.” Borys Danevych, another activist, related how the movement changed over time.” At first, Maidan was pro-European. Then turned into a revolution against corruption and arbitrary power,” he stated.
All of the former activists agreed that the revolution remains unfinished, with many expressing dismay and hopelessness about the lack of substantive changes. None expressed any faith in the new authorities and their ability to change the system independently. “All we hear are words, words, words,” stated Sinichkina. Ukrainian authorities aren’t willing to undercut their power by making reforms that are in the interests of the country as a whole. She warned that the government should take the matter more seriously or their power will be once again threatened. “If things are not resolved there will be much more aggressive and unstable response,” she said. Not all outlooks were so bleak. Inga Vyshnevska is still proud of her contributions even if not all the revolution’s demands have been actualized. I had no illusions that this will be an easy revolution,” she said. “I am not disappointed.”