Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, is a very hard documentary to watch. You have to be able to stomach seeing innocent people being beaten up, murdered in cold blood, abused and treated like animals. When I hear people complaining about the US, I wonder if they have watched any footage of some other countries and how the government treats their own people? One thing about documentaries, it’s reality, not script. This film documents a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of November 21, 2013 with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”) in Kiev, demanding closer European integration and many calls for the resignation of President Vikto Yanukovych and his government. The protests led to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. Many protesters joined because of the violent dispersal of protesters on November 30th and “a will to change life in Ukraine.” By January 25th, 2014, the protests had been fueled by the perception of “widespread government corruption,” “abuse of power,” and “violation of human rights in Ukraine.” Transparency International named President Yanukovych as the top example of corruption in the world.
In February, police and protesters fired live and rubber ammunition across multiple locations in Kiev. There were a vast majority of casualties. Yanukovych was forced to make concessions to the opposition to end the bloodshed in Kiev and end the crisis. The Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine was signed by Vitaly Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnybok. Vladimir Lukin, representing Russia, refused to sign the agreement.
“A turning point came in late February, when enough members of the president’s party fled or defected for the party to lose its majority in parliament, leaving the opposition large enough to form the necessary quorum. This allowed parliament to pass a series of laws that removed police from Kiev, cancelled anti-protest operations, restored the 2004 constitution, freed political detainees, and removed President Yanukovych from office. Yanukovych then fled to Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv, refusing to recognize the parliament’s decisions. The parliament assigned early elections for May 2014.”
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom tells a very grim story that appears to end well but as we all know, Ukraine’s fight for freedom is not over as they are currently dealing with Russia’s ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine among other issues of debt and territory. The film is powerful and enlightening and is available on Netflix.
[WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM is nominated for Best Documentary.]