Majdan – No pasarán, or Some Specifics of the German Euromaidan

Oleg Kostyuk
07.02.2014 16:45
Translated by Maria Stanislav

Even though the nature of negotiations of the Ukrainian government with European representatives has recently reduced to purely declaratory, and humanitarian aid gathered in the West (such as the shipment from Poland) doesn’t reach its destination because of obstacles at customs, Ukrainians in Europe are more determined than ever. They are even ready to return to Ukraine today, to stand shoulder to shoulder at the Kyiv Maidan and fight for a European future for their country.

Photo Credit - Kateryna Kudin

Photo Credit – Kateryna Kudin

Today, the popularity of yellow and blue colors has spread far beyond the borders of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Euromaidan is no longer a local phenomenon. No longer limited to the cities and towns of Ukraine, it’s spread far and wide, putting a start to Euromaidans in Europe, America and Asia.

The Euromaidan events did not go unnoticed by Ukrainians who, for various life reasons, live abroad. Ukrainian expats in different parts of the world, together with Ukrainian sympathizers, hold numerous rallies to support Euromaidan participants.

Largely, the work of expatriate communities is not only symbolic, but highly emotional. In many world countries, Ukrainian expats become the social element that draws the attention of the global community to Ukraine, and make some noise for the Ukrainian events.

They also try to provide every kind of help to those currently in Ukraine. And, considering that, not at all surprisingly, many members of the Ukrainian parliament, the ruling party in particular, have accounts and property in the West, expatriate Ukrainians take front and center in the rallies with demands to punish the people guilty of the numerous human rights violations in Ukraine. got a chance to talk to Kateryna Kudin, a co-organizer of mass pro-Ukraine rallies in Munich (Germany). We asked Kateryna to tell us what makes the German Euromaidan special, talked about the views and goals of its participants, and wondered what an average German thinks about the events in Ukraine.

How wide has the German Euromaidan spread? How many cities does it cover, how many people take part? Do the German people join the rallies?

In this case, it can be difficult to quantify. Rallies tend to happen depending on the circumstances, without strict coordination. But in some cases, rallies are planned anywhere between a few days to a few weeks in advance – that allows for mobilizing great numbers of people. One such rally took place last weekend, in Munich, where we had up to a thousand people, from different German cities, as well as from Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Poland. More frequently, we see rallies gathered in reaction to events in Ukraine – when we hear about new crimes committed by the government, be it the January 16 laws [the ‘dictatorship laws’ that drastically curtailed civil freedoms], or new tortures and murders. Still, I think I’m justified in saying that rallies in support of the Euromaidan spread through the largest cities in Germany, including Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, and plenty of smaller places.

For example, there are frequent rallies held in Mannheim, Nurnberg, Regensburg and Erfurt. Even though the demonstrations are not coordinated in advance, their organizers are always in touch with each other. I must also point out new forms of support – such as, for example, the initiative in Berlin, where the activists are on constant information watch, running an information center for journalists and the wider public. This center spreads information about events in Ukraine and about all Euromaidan-related events taking place in Germany.

In Munich, our events are bi-lingual, because there are plenty of Germans attending them. In addition to the local polititians, whom we invite to speak in support [of Ukraine], we’re joined by our neighbors, friends, colleagues and even casual passers-by. That’s one of our goals in these rallies – getting as many as possible, average German citizens, involved. We also see a lot of active support on behalf of the Georgian community. There are also Russian activists, who realize that the current situation is not a problem limited to Ukraine. They emphasize that this can also be Russia’s chance for democratic changes. They feel solidarity for us, and support us actively. This is why I can say with confidence – this protest isn’t limited to Ukrainians alone.

Did the demands of the Euromaidan in Germany change, between November, 21 – when the Ukrainian government announced that it was suspending the preparations to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement – and the most recent resonant event, the torture of the Automaidan activist Dmitry Bulatov?

I think that our demands and mottos are a certain reflection of the situation at the Maidan. The rallies supporting the Association Agreement were fairly isolated events. I would go as far as to say that back then, the rallies were more of a symbolic gesture. Our main goal was to show solidarity with the Euromaidan in Kyiv. The 30th of November [the night of the first violent breakup of the rally by riot police] was when it all changed. Just like people at the Maidan, we demanded that the people guilty of those crimes are punished. We demanded – and we are still demanding – that the German side gets involved in the resolution of this conflict.


As time passed, our demands solidified. We expect the Austrian and German authorities and financial institutions to cooperate in investigating the legality of the fortunes owned by the Ukrainian government officials and their family members. The first ‘target’ in Germany is Deutsche Bank, which maintains business relations with All-Ukrainian Development Bank [Vseukrayinsky Bank Rozvytku] owned by the President’s son, Olexander Yanukovych.

We also call for personal sanctions against the persons and the family members of persons responsible for crimes committed against peaceful protesters.

What are the demands made by the German Euromaidan participants of the Ukrainian and the German authorities?

We support the demands made by people at the Euromaidan. Like them, we stand for resignation of the government and for punishing every single person guilty of crimes against peaceful citizens. The German Euromaidan participants also demand to return the Constitution to the 2004 version. We will keep advocating that point, because we believe such a return will bring Ukraine closer to the democratic political culture. In case of Ukraine, one person cannot [have the authority] to decide the fate of the entire country. [The 2004 Constitution] is the only way to avoid Moscow’s imperialistic gestures towards Ukraine, to stop living in fear of the day when Putin finally offers the [Ukrainian] President a pot of money (“loans”) that will be big enough for him to sell off the interests of Ukraine.

Is an average German citizen aware of the events in Ukraine? What is their attitude to the events in Eastern Europe?

Most people, naturally, are informed of the events thanks to the local media. We also talk about the current events a lot in our circles. In the past few weeks, I don’t think I’ve spoken of anything else to my friends and acquaintances. Any German people in my circle would be hard pressed to stay unaware. The attitudes, however, vary. There are people who support Ukrainians in their fight for freedom, human rights, and complete independence. But there are others, too. I think the main explanation for that is that the media, sadly, often puts striking images and snappy headlines first, rather than reporting the situation in Ukraine realistically. They write bold-faced headlines that, for instance, the government has resigned, or that the laws that curtail human rights and freedoms have been cancelled – without regard to the fact that Azarov’s [ex-prime minister’s] resignation does nothing to change the system, and that the people from the same big “family” remain in power. They don’t mention that torturing of people continues, unpunished, even as negotiations go on and as the President agrees to such great “compromises.”

I’m still not sure what lies behind this [media reporting] – simple lack of understanding of the Ukrainian realities, or the orders of pro-Moscow politicians. Then I’m asked – what more do these Ukrainians want, if so much has been achieved already? And I explain, for the ‘somanieth’ time, that this isn’t square one. I tell them that there are still victims, there are missing people, there are people who underwent unspeakable torture. That the concept of human rights is still non-existent for the government, and not a single person has yet been held responsible for all these crimes.

There are, of course, other journalists, who pay attention to the people. They are in Ukraine, they talk to the people, and they try to report the most crucial, most reliable information, and the feelings and atmosphere at the Maidan. Sadly, they are a minority.

How do the German media report the events in Ukraine?

In general, there’s plenty of talk about Ukraine. The problem, however, in addition to the ones I already mentioned, is that the situation tends to be much simplified. Journalists pay a lot of attention to [Vitali] Klytschko, and quite overstate his importance. This is still the case, even though I thought that by now, everyone understands that the role of the [political] opposition has dwindled a lot, and the dynamics of the Maidan have been developing separately from them, for a while now. But after the most recent rally in Munich, I was rather surprised to read that our meeting was, apparently, held in support of Klytschko.

After the Munich Security Conference [01.02.2014], the prevailing opinion seems to be that EU is not a neutral party in the negotiations in Kyiv. More and more journalists write that only the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] can act as a mediator at this time. They insists on continued negotiations and a search for compromise.

What would make Ukrainians in Germany travel to Ukraine, and stand side by side with the Euromaidan in Kyiv?

There are Ukrainians who are already going to Ukraine, and already standing there. They are not that many, but they’re a fact. Many Ukrainians in Germany lean towards local support. It may be naïve, but we really believe that we are also working towards the same goal as the people in Ukraine. First off, financially – Ukrainians in Germany contribute large amounts of money to support the needs of the Maidan. Secondly, we bring Ukrainian events to the attention of the German community. We believe that we do play an important part in forming the [right] impression of what is happening in Ukraine right now. Only when the current events are understood comprehensively, and not limited to a group of “nationalist extremists,” can we expect action from the politicians. After all, when making foreign policy, they have to care about their voters’ opinions.

P.S. – “Majdan – No pasaran”, the favorite chant of the Euromaidan participants in Germany, comes from the political slogan “No pasarán” – (“They shall not pass” – Spanish), one of the symbols of the anti-fascist movement in the 20th century Europe. It stands for firm determination to defend one’s position against the enemy.

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