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Anniversary of Euromaidan Shootings

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise to commemorate the anniversary of the

mass shooting of protesters during the Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine.

 

Between February 18 and 20, 2014, special forces under the command of President Yanukovych

opened fire on unarmed protesters in Kiev. More than 100 protesters had lost their lives by the time

the guns fell silent.

 

The killings marked a turning point, not only in the Euromaidan uprising, but in the modern history of

Ukraine.

 

By February 21, President Yanukovych had fled the country. His government, devoid of any

remaining legitimacy, collapsed. Political parties and protest leaders scrambled to restore Ukraine to

a path of accountable government and democracy, but another conflict had just been unleashed.

 

Within days, pro-Russian separatists fanned out across the Crimean Peninsula. Within a month,

Crimea had been illegally annexed to the Russian Federation. Tens of thousands of Russian troops

had amassed along the Ukrainian border. Hundreds of unmarked soldiers, the so-called ‘‘little green

men,’’ had entered Ukraine, and the term ‘‘hybrid war’’ gained modern interpretation. Armed

separatist groups set out to gain control over the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

 

In the months that followed, the majority of Ukrainians came together to elect a new president and a

new parliament, and to begin to rebuild their country and the institutions of statehood. But in the east,

the violence continued. Defying international laws and norms, the Kremlin repeatedly flouted

Russia’s international commitments. Using propaganda and disinformation, the Kremlin continues to

paint itself as a defender of the rights of ethnic Russians. This is against all evidence.

 

Thousands of Russian soldiers, rubles and military equipment continue to fuel the conflict. Crimean

Tatars continue to be persecuted, detained and sent into exile. More than 5,500 people have been

killed, some 11,000 have been injured, and 1.2 million displaced. These figures do not even include

the suspected thousands of Russians killed in combat, or an untold number of Russians repressed for

daring to speak out or those suffering economic devastation as their government pursues a path of

deepening international isolation.

 

As this unnecessary crisis continues, let us pause to remember those who died one year ago on the

Maidan. Let us honour the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in hopes for a better future

for their country and their region. Let us commit to supporting their vision of a future Ukraine that is

sovereign, peaceful, rights-respecting, democratic and free.