Ukraine and Russia media on two sides to Maidan anniversary

The first anniversary of the protests that toppled Ukraine's former President, Viktor Yanukoych, is now a national holiday in Ukraine - but Russia is taking note as well.

The media in both countries are marking what's known as the Euromaidan protests, which began on 21 November 2013 following the Ukrainian government's decision not to sign an EU association agreement and to pursue closer ties with Russia instead.

The protests started a chain of events, which is being billed as a "fight for dignity" in much of the Ukrainian media, but is viewed by many Russian commentators as a sad descent to civil war.

'Dignity and freedom'

People tuning into Ukraine's 5 Kanal TV on Friday morning were greeted by a presenter wishing them a "Happy Day of Dignity and Freedom".

It is the official name of the new holiday decreed by President Petro Poroshenko, who controls the channel.

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Another station, privately-owned ICTV, carried dramatic footage of the bloodiest days of the conflict, such as this image apparently showing clashes that broke out just outside Kiev's Independence Square last January.

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"Last autumn, we had no idea how much this year would change us, the country and the whole world," the presenter said.

"This is how the new Ukraine began - the one we are still fighting for and defending."


The papers carry both euphoric and sobering images of the revolution, one year on.

The analytical daily Den says in an editorial that "Maydan's [Euromaidan's] main achievement was the revival of people's pride. Later these events would be dubbed the Revolution of Dignity. It will prove that finally, through suffering, the nation has been born."

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Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine wonders: "Have we gotten closer to Europe?"

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The government newspaper Uryadovyy Kuryer says last year's protests marked "the moment when the nation was formed".

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But Fokus weekly magazine injects a note of humour in its anniversary edition, suggesting that some promises have not yet been delivered.

The cover reads: "Where are the reforms, Holmes? It's elementary, Watson, they are on paper."

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'State of war'

In Russia, most TV news bulletins were carrying reports tracing the chronology of events and concluding that the Euromaidan revolution brought about sad results.

A presenter on state-controlled Channel One said that many people were disappointed that the struggle for a "happy European future" had not brought about the expected political and economic benefits.

She said that Ukraine's health budget was not enough to buy medicine.

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"It is exactly 10 years since the start of the Orange Revolution, and one year since the start of Euromaidan," said a presenter on Russian channel Rossiya 24 over archive footage.

"It would be strange to celebrate these anniversaries, given that Ukraine is in its deepest political and economic crisis. The country is, effectively, in a state of war."

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According to a correspondent on Russia's privately-owned REN TV, "Seventy per cent of Ukraine's population will not be celebrating the anniversary. They are not in a mood for festivities as the country, in effect, is in a state of a civil war."

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In Russia's national daily newspapers, only the pro-Kremlin popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda put the Euromaidan anniversary on its front page.

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A lone protester is shown in improvised anti-riot gear, apparently exhausted and sitting on a pile of tyres.

The headline reads: "In the smoke of burning tyres, Ukrainians failed to see how their country was sliding towards break-up and civil war."

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