Everyone should watch Winter on Fire. This documentary uses contemporary footage to tell the story of Euromaidan, the Ukrainian movement that dislodged Viktor Yanukovich from power.
The film is from the point of view of the protesters at Kyiv’s Independence Square. There are many things going on behind the scenes that are outside the film’s purview.
1. Our shitty winter in North America helped make Euromaidan possible. Kyiv can have brutal winters. Winter 2013/2014 featured a shifted jetstream which forced colder air to North American and milder air over Europe. I doubt the students would have left even with worse weather, but everything would have been more difficult.
2. The film shows some of the retired soldiers who came to the aid of the students. These men came to the students’ aid after seeing the brutality of the Berkut. These soldiers, often veterans of the Soviet Union’s adventure in Afghanistan, saw that these kids were being being beaten for peacefully protesting. That they were the same age as their own children made it hard for them to stay uninvolved.
3. There was really only one leader in Ukraine who stood up in support of the protesters: Petro Poroshenko. Yulia Tymoshenko was in jail. None of the past presidents had sufficient political strength (or perhaps willpower) to do anything. Poroshenko was on television talking about the issues in English for an international audience. This is how he became president. However, it’s arguable whether any Euromaidaners support him. You will see in the film that they have little use for do-nothing politicians or the bad agreements they might broker.
I am sure I will have follow-up comments, but these are the things in my head after watching the film last night.