Serbia-Ukraine row over negative comments on Maidan

The Embassy of Ukraine condemned the negative view given in Serbia to the 2013-2014 Maidan events in Kyiv. In a statement, the Embassy remarked that the “revolution of dignity in Ukraine” has been regularly mentioned in Serbia’s political and information discourse in recent years and is often given a negative connotation.

Namely, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said that “there would be no Maidan” in Serbia, referring to a possible change of government under the pressure of widespread protests.

The phrase “there will be no Maidan” is often used in the narratives spread by Russian propaganda media, which treat it negatively, as pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine and lost power due to the events and the bloodshed.

The Embassy of Ukraine in Serbia concluded that the Ukrainian Maidan was once again mentioned in a negative light, the statement points out.

The Embassy says that it finds unacceptable any attempts by any foreign officials to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs, and in particular public negative assessments of the conscious European choice of the Ukrainian people.

“It is our honour to remind you that what is sometimes portrayed in a negative context as the ‘Ukrainian scenario’ is, in fact, the struggle of the Ukrainian people for their rights against a corrupt and totalitarian government. This is the European choice of the majority of Ukrainians, for which we have paid and are paying a heavy price. Any assessment of this choice, positive or negative, is solely a matter for the Ukrainian people,” the statement reads.

“Moreover, we do not expect Serbia to condemn the European choice of the Ukrainian people publicly, but to condemn the brutal aggression of the Russian Federation, whose leadership has decided on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine to punish its desire for freedom and the right to choose its path,” they said.

The text also recalls that the Kremlin used tanks to suppress rallies for freedom in Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968.

It also stresses that thanks to the Maidan that took place in Ukraine, “the tentacles of the Russian totalitarian system that wants to reach Europe have been cut off”.

Ukrainians today are paying a heavy price not only for their freedom but also for the European future of Serbia and its children, the statement concludes.

In Ukrainian ‘maidan’ means ‘a square’, and by metonymy the protests that took place at Maidan (Square of Independence in Kyiv) are now called ‘Maidan’.

Opposition protests in Serbia

The opposition protests against violence in the country, which took place in Serbia after the mass murders in the “Vladislav Ribnikar” primary school and the villages around Mladenovac. Government representatives and pro-government media described the events as an “attempt of Maidan” in Serbia.

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, commented on the opposition protests:

“Alright, heroes, everything is fine; there will be no Maidan in Belgrade; I will always try to unite people when they say that they will come to throw eggs at me on the 26th is not a problem; just come, even then, I will call on Serbia to unite, but I will not accept that Serbia hates, frustrated politicians, that they have to use every tragedy in Serbia for their political vulture, that they behave worse than the worst hyenas, and at the same time to say that someone told the citizens.”

In November 2013, protests began in Maidan Square in Kyiv after the pro-Russia Yanukovych government declined to sign a previously agreed agreement with the EU and turned to Moscow instead. The protests culminated in the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, and less than a month later, Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula.

Serbia has a record of pro-Russian views. Belgrade has been frequently criticised by the EU for not adhering to the West’s sanctions against Russia for its war in Ukraine. Belgrade is still to make a choice, continue its path to EU membership, or keep close relations with Moscow, which is increasingly isolated.

Read also: Serbia must support EU sanctions on Russia to advance with EU accession – MEPs

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