Gathering at legislature marks anniversary of Ukraine revolution

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ABOUT 100 people in dark overcoats gathered at the steps of the legislature to mark the anniversary of Ukraine’s revolution Sunday evening.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/12/2014 (2918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ABOUT 100 people in dark overcoats gathered at the steps of the legislature to mark the anniversary of Ukraine’s revolution Sunday evening.

The event, observed by members of Manitoba’s 120,000 Ukrainian Canadians, was the latest in a series of observances over the past year.

Like the others, this one was designed to keep public attention on Ukraine’s war to maintain its sovereignty in the face of aggression from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Members of Winnipeg's Ukrainian community gather for a rally at the Manitoba Legislative Building to mark the first anniversary of Euromaidan Sunday.

“This marks the one-year anniversary of the Maidan demonstrations in Ukraine,” said Ostap Skrypnyk, an organizer with the Manitoba chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Euromaidan (literally Euro Square) was a wave of protests, marked by demonstrations in Ukraine that started in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in the heart of Kyiv.

More than a year later, the impact of those demonstrations is being felt in the face of shifting change in Ukraine.

In 2013, the civil unrest began with demands for closer ties to the European Union.

Demonstrations last year expanded, with calls for the resignation of President Viktor Yanokovych and his government, and eventually trigged the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.

The events there have carried emotional impact here as the ex-Soviet state wages war against separatists who have power over parts of eastern Ukraine since the overthrow of a Russian-backed president and Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

“Most people are glued to their computers. There a lot of interest in what’s going on and a lot of interest in what we can do to help,” Skrypnyk said.

The Canadian government has sent millions of dollars in humanitarian and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, including shipments of boots and winter clothing last month for soldiers.

The Ukrainian military is in such poor shape it’s had to crowd source for supplies ranging from tanks to uniforms.

“Canada has helped a lot,” Skrypnyk said, adding Ukrainian Canadians keep pressing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for additional aid.

“We just want Russia to respect the borders and get out of Ukraine,” he said.

Much of the focus this winter is on Ukrainians displaced by the conflict. Reports range from the conservative estimate of 600,000 people to the more widely quoted one million or more.

“The situation is bad right now. It’s the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s,” said Nick Krawetz, one of two speakers for the event.

“Many are in bomb shelters and cellars without heat or (winter) clothing and we are calling on our government to send increased humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” Krawetz said.

Canada’s 1.2 million-strong community is one of the largest Ukrainian populations outside Ukraine and Winnipeg has one of the largest populations inside Canada.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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