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Since We’ve Been Gone

Since We’ve Been Gone

The decision to close What’s On was made in the final days of the Revolution of Dignity, on 16 February 2014. We called our colleagues together and told them the issue in production was to be the last for awhile. With great sorrow, we printed a full list of those who had lost their lives, dedicated space to Maidan, and the palatial Mezhigyr estate Yanukovych had abandoned. That last issue went to print on 25 February 2014, the final days of the revolution.

A lot has happened since then… So, since we’ve been gone…


27 February 2014

The Russian military operation to seize Crimea begins in earnest. The Parliament building there is taken by special forces and on the same day – at gunpoint – a new “Prime Minister” is installed. Russian troops start to seize infrastructure, airports, and TV transmission towers, and Ukrainian military bases are blockaded.

Vladimir Putin denies involvement. International media present those denials as if they are even slightly credible and the term “little green men” is used to describe the Russian forces starting to annex the region.

16 March 2014

While still pretending not to be involved, Russia carries out a “referendum” in Crimea. Aside from the complete illegality of this action, the announced results are laughable. The international community denounces the whole charade, but Putin doesn’t care.

12 April 2014

Following relatively small anti-Kyiv protests in the capitals of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the sleepy city of Slovyansk suddenly becomes ground zero for a new phase of trouble in eastern Ukraine. Heavily armed and masked men take over the city’s main administration buildings.

17 April 2014

Talks between Ukraine, Russia, the US, and the EU are held in Geneva to try to restore peace in Ukraine. Russia ignores the Geneva Peace Deal as soon as it is signed.

25 May 2014

It is deemed by Parliament that Yanukovych left his post, and as such a new head of state needs to be elected. There is a high turnout at the elections, and in a free and fair election, Petro Poroshenko wins a first round victory.

5 July 2014

The city of Slovyansk is liberated by Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

 17 July 2014

298 innocent civilians are killed when MH17 is shot down by a Russian BUK missile over eastern Ukraine.

 25 August 2014

Ukraine’s Yanukovych-era Parliament is disbanded.

29 August 2014

A turning point in the military conflict – the Russian military overwhelms the Ukrainian army in the city of Ilovaivsk. Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers are massacred as they evacuate along an agreed safe corridor.

5 September 2014

The first Minsk agreement is concluded. Russia ignores it as soon as it is signed as they fight to take control over, or destroy, Donetsk Airport.

26 October 2014

Elections for a new Parliament are held. A new ruling coalition is formed – the “Kamikaze government” led by Prime Minister Yatseniuk remains largely unchanged as a result.

2 December 2014

Changes in the Parliamentary coalition lead to a cabinet reshuffle. Natalia Jaresko and Aivaras Abromivicius come out of high-profile private sector jobs, take Ukrainian citizenship, and are asked to undertake massive reform programs in the Finance and Economy/Trade ministries respectively.

11 February 2015

The second Minsk agreement is concluded. Russia, again, ignores it as soon as it is signed as they fight, beyond the agreed ceasefire date, to take control of the strategically-located city of Debaltseve.

16 February 2015

Kremlin-appointed “leader” of the “DNR” states goal to expand territory under their control to include the cities of Mariupol and Kharkiv. Nobody in Mariupol or Kharkiv have asked for this.

27 February 2015

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is shot and killed in the shadows of the Kremlin. He had produced a film titled, 5 facts that prove Putin’s behind the conflict in Ukraine and was working on a larger dossier of evidence called, Putin. War. His last Facebook post states Crimea was annexed illegally.

15 April 2015

Results of lustration announce 500 civil servants (who didn’t understand they were civil servants) are fired, another 1 500 quit.

21 May 2015

Russian special forces are captured while fighting for the city of Schastya. Russia mumbles something about them just “being lost” in full combat gear, with automatic weapons.

11 June 2015

President Poroshenko pens an OpEd for the Wall Street Journal on Ukraine’s reform progress. Despite it being factually correct, many in Ukraine still think there have been no reforms whatsoever.

4 July 2015

Ukraine gets a shiny new police force! Young, keen, ambitious, and drawn to the challenge from all walks of life, these guys and girls quickly get dubbed the “selfie police” because everyone wants a photo with them.

31 July 2015

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde calls the stabilising economic situation in Ukraine “incredibly encouraging”.

31 August 2015

Four young national guardsmen are killed by a grenade outside the Parliament building in Ukraine as a result of talks in Parliament about country-wide decentraslisation.

19 October 2015

A lawyer representing former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, now in exile in Russia (where else?), files a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights saying his client has suffered “discriminatory treatment due to his political status and opinions”. No joke, that really happened.

26 October 2015

The “DNR” bans medics from the Nobel Prize Winning organisation Medicins Sans Frontiers, claiming they’re engaging in espionage. MSF will end up being one of the last international aid agencies operating in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk.

20 November 2015

Still making a mockery of obligations arising from the Minsk Peace Plan, Russia sends their 45th convoy of white trucks across the internationally-recognised border of Ukraine. No one is allowed to inspect the contents, as usual. Not by coincidence, as the war rages on, those fighting against Ukraine never seem to run out of ammunition.

1 January 2016

Part of a broader EU Association Agreement, the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Area (FTA) pact comes into effect, despite strong objections from Russia. Under the FTA agreement, both sides mutually open markets for goods and services based on predictable and enforceable trade rules. The move coincides with the initiation of Moscow’s food embargo against Kyiv.

4 February 2016

The European Parliament overwhelmingly adopts a resolution condemning “unprecedented levels of human rights abuses” in occupied Crimea, particularly the treatment of the native Crimean Tatar population.

30 March 2016

German newspaper Bildt releases a report detailing the level of political control excerpted by Moscow over the “D/LNR”. This comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to events in Ukraine.

19 April 2016

Investigative journalists from the Bellingcat organisation release their first report proving, beyond doubt, that in the early days of the war, Russia shelled Ukrainian military positions from Russian territory.

14 May 2016

Ukrainian singer of Crimean Tatar origin Jamala (Susana Jamaladinova) is crowned Eurovision winner with her emotional ballad 1944 about the Crimean Tatar deportation under Josef Stalin.  The tune is interpreted as a criticism against Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ya think…?

15 May 2016

Ukraine’s Antonov AN-225 Mriya, the world’s largest plane, lands in Australia for the first time ever, attracting thousands of enthusiasts to the Perth Airport. Seeking to gain economic independence from Russia, Ukraine produced the aircraft aimed for the export market, and in this case, transported a 117 tonne electric power generator for a Western Australian mining company.

17 June 2016

Speaking in St Petersburg, Vladimir Putin says about the situation in Ukraine, “They shoot, the others shoot back – does that mean we shouldn’t carry out a political transformation?” Pretty much Vova, that’s what it means.

20 June 2016

For reasons best known to himself, US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump appoints former Yanukovych advisor Paul Manafort to be his campaign manager. This sounds warning bells for anyone with any knowledge of what Manafort did in Ukraine.

23 June 2016

Britain narrowly votes to leave the EU. Nigel Farrage, whose UKIP party consistently votes against EU sanctions on Russia and says Vladimir Putin is the world leader he most admires, is giddy with delight.

29 June 2016

Another report confirming cross border shelling from Russia into Ukraine is published. This time by a consortium of the International Partnership for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

18 July 2016

Donald Trump is confirmed as the party’s candidate in the race for the White House, and the GOP for some unfathomable reason drops part of the party manifesto about providing Ukraine with military assistance.27 July 2016

American-born Ukrainian Ulana Suprun is appointed acting Health Minister for Ukraine. Previous holders of this post cared more about lining their own pockets than saving lives.

22 August 2016

The Glazyev Tapes are released, in which Sergei Glazyev, top advisor to Vladimir Putin, is heard orchestrating disturbances, violence, and anti-Ukraine protests in various regions of southern and eastern Ukraine.

1 September 2016

Ukraine officially launches a system of electronic income and asset declaration. All Ukrainian officials, including MPs, ministers, and the President must submit extended income tax return via the Internet. The E-declaration aims to be a real breakthrough in reform and especially in the fight against corruption – one of the requirements for obtaining a visa-free regime.

19 September 2016

Ukraine ranks third in the overall medal standings at the Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, taking home 117 medals – 41 gold, 37 silver, and 39 bronze. Ukrainian Paralympic athletes demonstrate the best results ever despite an economic recession, military conflict in eastern Ukraine, and loss of their main training centre in Crimea.

28 September 2016

The Dutch-led team investigating the downing of MH17 confirm that the missile launcher that fired the missile came from Russia. Russia keeps lying.

8 November 2016

The Law regulating the percentage of Ukrainian language and musical content takes effect. Fifty per cent of all talk must be in Ukrainian, and thirty per cent must be Ukrainian music. It has meant a real renaissance for Ukrainian radio.

16 November 2016

The UN General Assembly committee votes to adopt a resolution on human rights in Crimea. A total of 73 states vote for the document, 23 – including Russia, vote against, and 76 abstain. It is the first time the UN is able to officially recognise Russia as an occupying power and the fact that Crimea and Sevastopol are a temporarily-occupied territory. The resolution also confirms the territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemns the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

1 December 2016

Ukraine climbs to a rank of 15th from 23rd out of 152 nations in the Global Militarisation Index. Ukraine also now ranks 25th out of 126 countries listed in the Global Firepower Index and increases its potential of an arms manufacturer, moving up to the 68th position in the Defence News Top 100. With conflict in the eastern regions fuelled by the Kremlin, Ukraine continues to significantly boost its defence capacity and military capabilities.

6 December 2016

The European Vega booster, powered by a Ukrainian-made engine, successfully brings Turkey’s most advanced intelligence satellite to the orbit. The launcher’s fourth stage RD-843 engine was designed by Ukraine’s Yuzhnoe State Design Office. Ukraine holds a leading position in the global space industry with 40 large aerospace-related enterprises.

13 December 2016

The Institute of Modern Russia and The Interpreter Magazine release an 88-page report, titled An Invasion by Any Other Name, The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine. It details much of what was already known at that time about Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine. Read it. Read it now.

20 December 2016

Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov unveils the new multifunctional transport aircraft AN-132D, which was built under contract with Saudi Arabia, signed in April 2015. The AN-132D is designed for transporting cargo over short- and medium-range routes, and is capable of carrying a maximum payload of 9.2 tons. It is the first Ukrainian plane created without Russian components.

21 December 2016

Bellingcat releases a new report on the cross border shelling from Russia into Ukraine, with 75 pages logging thousands of launch and impact sites.

3 January 2017

Economist Anders Aslund argues in the Atlantic Council that “2017 should be the year Ukraine’s economy takes off” and, well, nine months later things are certainly good enough for your What’s On to return.

12 January 2017

The Atlantic Council publishes an article titled Ten Things You Should Know About Russian Involvement in Ukraine – read the others. Read this one too.

14 January 2017

US President Obama extends sanctions on Russia for a year over its actions in Ukraine. Some Trump supporters try to claim that Obama did nothing regarding Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

31 January 2017

Shortly after the first (official) call between President Putin and Donald Trump, there is a massive surge in violence in eastern Ukraine. The city at the epicenter of the battle is Avdiivka. There are no known reports of Avdiivka residents asking to be incorporated into the “DNR”.

3 February 2017

Alexander Hug, who heads the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for Ukraine, states that the fighting in Avdiivka is the fiercest he has seen since 2014-15.

20 February 2017

Three years after the massacre on Maidan, none of the snipers have been identified or arrested. A sad indictment of Ukraine’s prosecutors, law enforcement, and judiciary.

23 March 2017

Ukrainian parliament votes in favour of financial support for the Ukrainian film industry. As a result, new Ukrainian movies have started to appear in cinemas almost every week.

1 May 2017

After a major overhaul, the fountains of Kyiv’s central Maidan square are restored and now have a major light and music show accompanying them just in time for Eurovision thanks to Jamala in 2016.

16 May 2017

Ukraine bans use of Russian social networking, email, and Yandex services. Some people take the bait and cry “censorship”. But, really, it’s known these services trawl through the data users share, and why should Ukraine allow Russia to have access to that kind of information at a time of war?

18 June 2017

There’s a Kyiv Pride march! Thousands gather to show their love, while a few dozen hateful or deluded people protest against. It goes off without incident, thanks to excellent work from the city’s law enforcement bodies.

27 June 2017

A car bomb kills a top Ukrainian military intelligence officer in Kyiv in broad daylight.

6 July 2017

The FT publish an article titled Ukraine’s Economy has turned a Corner, and, in light of the ongoing conflict in the east, it has to be said, that is a pretty remarkable feat.

1 September 2017

Educational reforms take place in the way of better salaries and regular training seminars for teachers. It also sees a switch from the traditional Soviet system of “teach to memorise” to “teach to question”.

8 September 2017

A car bomb in Kyiv kills a Chechen who had been fighting against Russia in eastern Ukraine.

15 September 2017

Ukraine continues to fight for its sovereignty, the government continues to take, albeit small, strides towards democratic leadership, and its people continue to push on despite devastating realities. About this, and so much more, we’ll be back at you next month with more up-to-date news stories.

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