Natataliia Popovych, chairperson of Ukraine House in Denmark
On Nov. 21, 2023, Ukraine commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, a pivotal moment in history which was followed by a decade of transformation since hundreds thousands of Ukrainians gathered in late November 2013 to protest against a government move away from an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The revolution changed the course of Ukrainian history, its conclusion marked by a loss of 100 lives, a change in government, and the occupation of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
In honour of the occasion, we’d like to share key takeaways from our panel discussion “Ukraine and the world transformed: 10 years since the Revolution of Dignity” that took place on Nov. 20 at Ukraine House in Denmark.
From left to right: Johannes Wamberg Andersen, a Danish historian; Tetyana Ogarkova, Head of International Outreach at Ukraine Crisis Media Center; Volodymyr Yermolenko, Analytics Director at Internews Ukraine; Jonas Parello-Plesner, Director of Alliance of Democracies Foundation; Charlotte Flindt Pedersen, Director of the Danish Foreign Policy Society
Volodymyr Yermolenko, Analytics Director at Internews Ukraine, highlighted the Ukrainian fight for freedom and European standards of life.
“I think Putin is afraid of freedom. Putin is afraid of freedom because Putin is afraid of a society where people are governing by themselves. And I do think that this sentiment is very well known in Denmark and Europe – being governed by yourself, by your community, by your city. But it's not very well known in Russia… So the story of Ukraine is a story of ‘freedom despite.’”
“I think for Ukrainians, dignity means a right not to be annihilated and humiliated. You have your place on Earth and in history. You as a person, you as a community. Nobody should take this place, this space of freedom, this time of freedom from you.”
“The Russian empire, the occupiers don't give you any space, even for physical movement, let alone for your freedom, for your actions, for your thoughts, for your ideas. This is one of the key metaphors, the very physical metaphors. And Ukrainians, on Maidan, they were fighting against that. They were fighting against an empire that doesn't give you space, not only geographical.”
Tetyana Ogarkova, Head of International Outreach at Ukraine Crisis Media Center, shed light on the terrible price Ukrainians pay for living in dignity.
“I remember very clearly these bloody days of Feb. 18-20, 2014. As you probably know, Russian soldiers who participated in the annexation of Crimea, they had this date of Feb. 20 on their medals, because it was day one of this war, this war which is still ongoing. So Russia started the war on the 20th of February, 2014.”
“I talked to a Ukrainian filmmaker and this conversation impressed me a lot. He said: what is happening on the front line is that thousands of Ukrainians, who were civilians, are in the army today. Now, to defend Ukraine, freedom and democracy, they have to kill. They have to kill russian soldiers every day - and the time during which somebody is made to be able to kill, it's much shorter than the time it takes for this person to come back to this human condition. So we are in a way also sacrificing our humanity in order to stand strong against this regime, against this aggression.”
Johannes Wamberg Andersen, a Danish historian, highlighted Ukrainian unity.
“Ukraine was vaccinated from violence because it has seen so much savagery in the 20th century with the Holodomor, World War II, so I think that's why people said it's too much when they had seen how brutally the police beat students in 2013. I saw a nation come together and people were talking about children as OUR [the nation’s] children.”
Charlotte Flindt Pedersen, director of the Danish Foreign Policy Society emphasised the transformation of Ukrainian society between the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity.
“There was civil society development in Ukraine, which came together on Maidan in 2004 during the Orange Revolution. That was the first transformation, and it was also the first, you could say, counter-action from the кussian side, when they started the whole disinformation warfare.”
Hanne Severinsen, Former vice chairperson for Liberal Group Council of Europe is sure that Ukraine deserves peace with justice.
“Back in 2004 people thought that the new president would give them a wonderful society and then they were disappointed. In 2013, Ukrainian society realized that it’s not enough just to change the president. The lesson was learned, and I think it was a fantastic result of the revolution of Dignity. People became aware that it was not in search of having a new leader, but in having new institutions.”
From left to right: Nataliia Popovych, Chaiperson of Ukraine House in Denmark, Jonas Parello-Plesner, Director of Alliance of Democracies Foundation; Volodymyr Yermolenko, Analytics Director at Internews Ukraine; Tetyana Ogarkova, Head of International Outreach at Ukraine Crisis Media Center; Charlotte Flindt Pedersen, Director of the Danish Foreign Policy Society; Johannes Wamberg Andersen, a Danish historian
Photos by Alex Benes