“The Ukrainian revolution which received the name ‘Revolution of Dignity’ was also a revolution of values. And we were ready to die for these values. It’s not even that these things were discussed; they were in the air,” said UCU Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, a historian. On 18 February, he opened a photo exhibit “The Cost of the Future” at UCU’s Sheptytsky Center and spoke to the students about the Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity.

The photo exhibit “The Cost of the Future” was dedicated to the memory of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred and the bloodiest events of the Maidan, 19-21 February 2014. UCU gave its photos to the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity.

Addressing those present for the exhibit’s opening, Yaroslav Hrytsak emphasized that the Maidan gave Ukrainians a common feeling of dignity: “We all know our faults, but the Maidan let us understand that there was in us very much more good than bad. So I consider that each of us should speak about the Maidan, because it was about dignity. I cannot talk about the Maidan as a historian, because it needs to be experienced.”

The professor also added that UCU is part of the Maidan’s history, because it has witnesses and students close to those events, and a professor slain by a sniper’s bullet: “Iryna Didych is one of our students. Her father perished on the Maidan. Olya Shakhnyk’s father died near Ilovaysk. We all knew the young UCU professor Bohdan Solchanyk, who became a Hero of the Heavenly Hundred. When we look at these photos, it seems to us that this was something terrible. But this was the best thing that happened to us. These sacrifices wouldn’t have happened if people hadn’t been full of love. And love arose from a feeling of fear for your neighbors and those standing near you; this is how courage was born among us. We were united by values for which each one was ready to die. It was a revolution with a human face. Look into those faces.”

After the opening of the exhibit, UCU students had the opportunity to talk with the professor in groups about the events of the Revolution of Dignity and the war in eastern Ukraine.

We present some of the meeting’s themes:

— Ukraine is a nation of great dignity. What we did on the Maidan in 2014 is exceptional. The type of revolution that we had, where the main hero is of the middle class, is something new. The latest such revolution was in Chile, just like the Kyiv scenario. But the Ukrainian revolution was the only revolution where the protesters won; they lost in all the others. After the Maidan, we revealed to ourselves and the world a Ukraine which earlier we ourselves had not known.

— No one plans revolutions. They happen. The Ukrainian revolution is a consequence of the fact that Ukraine was “sick.” So going out on the Maidan was the only, even if radical, way to “heal” it. I remember a conversation between two noted experts, who discussed how many people would go to fight if Russia attacked. One said 10 thousand, the other 100 thousand, but the Maidan gave us other feelings. At the moment of crisis, we recognized our true character.

— The Euromaidan was a revolution of a new generation. We clearly see noticeable differences between the first and the second Maidan. The first had a leader, Viktor Yushchenko. The second also had conditional leaders, but they were laughed at, because this Maidan itself was the leader. Its degree of self-realization was impressive! This generation no longer accepts vertical hierarchs. So the main difference of the last Maidan is the younger generation.

— No one then wanted to die. No one chose death as an option. When the Maidan stopped being peaceful, we started to build barricades.

— The revolution wasn’t chosen, like the sun in the sky or a storm. It was not a question of choice. It was possible not to go out on the Maidan, but those who didn’t go there didn’t set the tone in the country.

— The scenario about Putin and the Ukrainian revolution was already written in 2009 in the Kremlin, after Russia interfered in Georgia. No one paid attention to this, except for Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of Ukraine’s Council for Foreign and Security Policy, who described this scenario in the press. At that time, they considered this plan insane. Many of us asked if becoming a sacrifice of the Euromaidan would be in vain. But when you know about these plans, there’s no reason to ask if it was necessary to start the Maidan.  

— We won’t know the true history of the Maidan until they open the archives not only of the Security Service of Ukraine but also those of Russia. 

— Why did the Maidan in Ukraine succeed, but not in Russia or Belarus? The explanation is simple: because of history. No one ever respects authority in Ukraine. There is no cult of authority in Ukraine, no single state church. Just as in Russia a victorious Maidan is not possible, so in Ukraine Putin is not possible.

— It’s impossible to heal all the wounds of the past in one generation, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be treated. Three generations are necessary for this, because changes begun by the first generation will be fully implemented by the third.

— Did the people deserve the authorities that came to power after the Revolution of Dignity? I don’t know. But we managed to achieve regulated changes in the format of elections. It’s very good that this process started, because it gives hope that at some time an elite will come to power which will be able to change this country. Zelenskyi is a continuation of the Maidan. But Zelenskyi is the Maidan which was hacked. This is a continuation of the revolution of youth, but it’s a false start.

— Ukraine has reached its limit of maidans. Our next maidans, if there will be any, have to be at the voting box, peaceful. We have to remember that a maidan can never be organized in advance, because a maidan is always spontaneity. We were not prepared for our previous maidans. But before the last one there was already a whole packet of developed reforms, roles were described, we knew what we needed to do. Finally, a crisis prompted this.

— The bigger the threats, the more radical should be the reforms: we need independent judges, a free economy, we have to fight corruption. A crisis is an ideal time for conducting radical reforms. A new window of opportunities has opened before us.

— Modern youth (this is a global phenomenon) have a big problem: they don’t want to participate in political processes. They’re for flashmobs but against voting. Unfortunately, after the Revolution of Dignity, no political party for youth arose in our country.

— What can each of us do is this unpeaceful time? 

  • Don’t panic
  • Think positively: Try to see something beautiful in Ukraine. What is our strength?
  • Find friends abroad and tell them about the situation in Ukraine and spread positive examples about Ukraine
  • Do what you love; do something that really drives you. 
  • Think positively
  • And my personal advice – Eat ice cream with chocolate.