More than 1,000 citizens came to Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv to protest against Yanukovych’s government on the night of Nov 21. It was the reaction to official news on governmental refusal to continue preparations for signing the political and free trade agreement with EU, also known as EU-Ukraine Association agreement. In the future, implementation of the agreement would possibly bring Ukraine to the EU full membership. The deal on Association agreement would have to be signed in Vilnius next week.
Once the details on Ukraine’s refusal went public on Nov 21, people’s indignation sparked in social media. Online media, Facebook and Twitter became platforms for citizens to express their disappointment and harsh government’s critique. Dozens users started writing negative remarks towards Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on his official Facebook page.
Since the event has happened on the eve of ninth anniversary of the Orange Revolution, that started on Nov 22, 2004, many Internet users called for action. Some opinion leaders, including journalist Mustafa Nayem, called to come out to Maidan Nezaleznosti at 10.30 pm. The call have been widely spread across social media, informing thousands of Internet users. As of 2013, the penetration of Internet in Ukraine is about 18 million users.
Closer to midnight, hundreds citizens came to Maidan Nezaleznosti. Some of them had EU flags, some came with posters in support of the European future of Ukraine. Many have learned about time and place of the rally through social media. Hashtags #євромайдан, followed by #майдан and #euromaidan became key filters through which Internet users could follow and disseminate the news on protests. 17-20 tweets with #євромайдан hashtag were published per minute on the night Nov 21. Users continued to tweet during the night. Some users wrote, they are traveling to Kyiv to support the rally.
Social media reached citizens across Ukraine. That night citizens in Lviv, Lutsk, Ternopil and Donetsk came to the streets to protest as well. Finally, more than 1000 citizens came together in Kyiv. Oppositional politicians, like Vitaliy Klischko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnybok joined the protesters.
Since the rally took place late at night and it was spontaneous, no TV station had a crew there. It was an Internet user Сruz, who turned to Ustream online broadcasting with help of his cell phone and mobile Internet. His Ustream channel announced in social media has attracted thousands of viewers. During the second hour of his live broadcast more than 12 000 users were watching what was happening on Maidan Nezaleznosti. When the battery of his cell phone discharged, he went offline.
In the nearest days social media will play a vital role in mobilization of thousands of Ukrainian citizens to protest against government’s refusal to chose pro-European future for Ukraine. While in 2004, protests that led to Orange Revolution, were coordinated through cell phones and text messages, today’s culture of governmental protests in Ukraine has been enriched by social media tools. And the citizens with access to the Internet lead this technological revolution.
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In 2004 there weren’t only text messages and cell phones, but also e-mail! I remember sending pro-Maidan messages across various listserves I was subscribed to until my mom asked me to stop because she thought I was going to be picked up by police :)
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