March of the National Dignity - Report + Ultimatum
Feb. 22, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the victory in the Maidan revolution gained at the cost of blood of the “Heavenly Hundred,” the biggest nationalist movements (and political parties) of Ukraine, National Corps, Svoboda and Right Sector, issued the joint ultimatum to current Ukrainian authorities in the course of many thousand-strong March of the National Dignity in Kyiv.
It must be noted that separate requirements of the ultimatum were previously raised by this or that political force on its own - for instance, the rally in support of the all-Ukrainian referendum on no-confidence motion against the authorities organized by Right Sector, back then under Dmytro Yarosh’s leadership, a rally against the adoption of the amendment to the Constitution of Ukraine on elections and granting “the special status” to temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions which was organized by Svoboda, 10-thousand strong march on the same occasion held by National Corps in the end of last spring, as well as a series of subsequent social actions against economic policies of the government.
However, these protest actions were mostly considered a show of power by the rivaling political parties; nobody expected that nationalists would finally form a single movement. Preliminary talks on joining efforts of the Ukrainian nationalist organizations in order to increase the strength of certain manifestations (e.g. support for political prisoners, marches, protests against the illegal construction) have been conducted since summer, and now they yielded the result.
The gathering place of the March, the space around the Stella of Independence at the Independence Square, was too small to host all the event participants. After the huge procession finally lined up, it started moving towards Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) across the governmental quarter where the presidential administration is situated. The column was headed by the organizations’ leaders: Andriy Biletsky (National Corps), Oleg Tiahnybok (Svoboda), Andriy Tarasenko (Right Sector).
A symbolic core of March of the National Dignity which, among others, required the introduction of the valid mechanism for the presidential impeachment, was revealed in front of the National Bank of Ukraine. The procession stopped there to pass to the head of the state an allegorical “present.” Current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire owner of the “Roshen” confectionary company, did not fulfill his pre-election promise to sell it and only recently came up with a decision to sell its filial facility in the Russian city of Lipetsk. As Olexander Alf'orov, representative of National Corps, put it, “today we want to pass to the President the most expensive candy, the price of which is three years of war, thousands of human lives and three years of work of the factory named after Petro Poroshenko.” The candy was accompanied with a huge train ticket to Lipetsk as a hint that Poroshenko might repeat the destiny of overthrown president Victor Yanukovych who fled to Russia.
Afterwards the marching column reached its destination, the Parliament of Ukraine. When the leaders of the movements finished their speeches on a stage, a group of MPs headed by Andriy Biletsky entered the Parliament. At the parliamentary session he recited the ultimatum to the current authorities, which was broadcast on a large screen outside in between the speeches by prominent Ukrainian public figures like Levko Lukyanenko, Vasyl Shkliar and Roman Koval.
The ultimatum says:
“We speak on behalf of working and belligerent Ukraine. The former you destroy, the latter betray.
Today a handful of millionaires and billionaires usurped all power in the country. The president, the government and the vast majority of Parliament belong to the same clique. On the international arena, you claim to represent people who did not entitle you to exercise anything.
You are accountable for:
- The privatization and sale of the country;
- Extermination of Ukrainians by hunger, unemployment rates and tariffs;
- Humiliation, submission and surrender of the lands to the Kremlin.
We, Ukrainian nationalists, unite our efforts to counter giving up the country to the armed invaders from the East and the financial extortionists from the West, and most importantly - to destroy the thieves’ click called today "the authorities.”
As statists, we demand a new political course based on the priority of the national interests:
1. We will not allow the privatization of strategic enterprises;
2. We will not allow agricultural land sale;
3. We will not allow the quarterly rising prices for utilities;
4. We will not allow the destruction of small and medium-sized entrepreneurship and revision of the taxation system;
5. We will not allow raising the retirement age;
6. We demand the so-called special areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions (controlled by terrorists) be recognized as the occupied territories;
7. We demand termination of all diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation;
8. We demand a real efficient mechanism of the president’s impeachment.
We, Ukrainian nationalists, are united and determined as never before. We assure you that if you try to ignore of our demands, we will have enough strength and courage to ensure the dissolution of the Parliament.
We begin the struggle to alter the selling authorities to the Ukrainian!
Glory to Ukraine!“
Besides, Andriy Biletsky urged the MPs to awaken the remnants of conscience and downvote the draft resolution on the amnesty in 2016. Because of the latter, many devoted Ukrainian patriots who took up arms to defend their homeland in 2014 without any legal status and registered weapons, are currently persecuted as criminals. Failure of the draft resolution to be adopted was the first victory of the aligned Ukrainian nationalist forces.
As one the key banner of the March says, "Everything just begins!”
Maslenitsa (Russian: Мaсленица, Ukrainian: Масниця, Belarusian: Масьленіца; also known as Butter Week, Crepe week, or Cheesefair Week) is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday, celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, and the Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date.
According to archeological evidence from 2nd century A.D. Maslenitsa may be the oldest surviving Slavic holiday. Maslenitsa has its origins in the pagan tradition. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun-festival, personified by the ancient god Volos, and a celebration of the imminent end of the winter. In the Christian tradition, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent.
During the week of Maslenitsa, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, and it is the last week during which eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its name of “Cheese-fare week” or “Crepe week”. The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny thin pancakes or crepes, made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition that week: butter, eggs and milk.
Since Lent excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from spiritual life, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to take part in social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.
In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity. Monday may be the welcoming of “Lady Maslenitsa”. The community builds the Maslenitsa effigy out of straw (из соломы), decorated with pieces of rags, and fixed to a pole formerly known as Kostroma. It is paraded around and the first pancakes may be made and offered to the poor. On Tuesday, young men might search for a fiancée to marry after lent. On Wednesday sons-in-law may visit their mother-in-law who has prepared pancakes and invited other guests for a party. Thursday may be devoted to outdoor activities. People may take off work and spend the day sledding, ice skating, snowball fights and with sleigh rides. On Friday sons-in-law may invite their mothers-in-law for dinner. Saturday may be a gathering of a young wife with her sisters-in-law to work on a good relationship.
A few thousand Ukrainians rallied on Wednesday to demand a change of
political leadership in a demonstration that coincided with the third
anniversary of the ousting of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich
amid mass street protests.
The rally was organized by three
right-wing parties who accuse the government of being too weak and
conciliatory in the face of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea
region and its support for pro-Russian separatists in the east of the
The crowd chanted “Glory to Ukraine!” and carried banners
with slogans such as “The government should fight (Russian President
Vladimir) Putin, not Ukrainians.”
Kiev resident Vasyl Volskiy said
he was taking part in the demonstration because he believed the
authorities had failed to deliver on promises to reform the economy.
has been no improvement, it has even become worse compared to what it
used to be. The army still has no resources, just like before. People
have become three times poorer and the authorities are not doing
anything,” he said.
None of the three groups behind the rally -
the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, the far-right Right Sector and
the newly formed National Corps party founded by members of the Azov
battalion - are currently represented in parliament.
has lived in exile in Russia since fleeing Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014. His
successor, Petro Poroshenko, has tried to move Ukraine towards the
European Union but the country is still dogged by poverty and
corruption, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine remains unresolved.
Photo credits: Efrem Lukatsky (2) /AP, Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images (2), Sergei Chuzavkov/AP