Ukrainian History: WWI to 2014 Revolution

A look at Ukraine's current unrest through the lens of modern historical events. As the dust settled after World War I, Ukraine was defeated and divided and the Soviets controlled much of the country. In 1922 Ukraine, along with Russia, became the founding members of the Soviet Union... Then in 1932 the great famine began and up to 10 million Ukrainians starved to death. It was made worse by the policies of the new head of the communist party, Joseph Stalin. Then came the Great Terror: Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union resulted in the killing of some 681,000 people; including 80 percent of the Ukrainian cultural elite and three-quarters of all the Ukrainian Red Army's higher-ranking officers. Then came the outbreak of WWII. German armies invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, beginning four straight years of non-stop total war. In the battle of Kiev, Axis troops encircled and laid siege to the capital city. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers were killed or taken captive there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by Nazi death squads, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Corruption under Ukraine's second president set the stage for the 2004 ascendence of then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to the Presidency in elections that the Ukrainian Supreme Court ruled were rigged. Yanukovych was then thrown out of power in the peaceful Orange Revolution in favor of opposition leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, who became President and Prime Minister. Yanukovych then regained the Prime Ministership in 2006, but lost a snap election just a year later that saw Tymoshenko become Prime Minister again. This map of those 2007 election results shows just how divided Ukraine is politically. Then came the January 2009 natural gas crisis in which Russia stopped supplying gas to Ukraine in the middle of winter. Since Ukraine is itself the main supply route to much of Europe, this was a pretty big problem. Tymoshenko eventually signed an agreement to reopen the pipes, but not before Ukraine incurred major economic losses. As a result of the political fallout, Yanukovych - who just does not go away - was elected President again in 2010. And in October, 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office because she signed the natural gas deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2012 the European Union and Ukraine began negotiations for it to join the 28-nation group. President Viktor Yanukovych urged the parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU's criteria. Bringing us to the 3-month old Euromaidan protests which began at the end of 2013 when Yanukovych - who was feeling the economic pressure - abruptly suspended efforts to join the EU. He then turned around and signed an agreement with Putin, who offered $15 billion in financial aid and a 33% discount on Russian natural gas. As a result, the protests have escalated and become more violent, with many now calling for the ouster of Yanukovych and a rejection of the Russian deal in favor of a complete embrace of Europe. Yulia Tymoshenko is released from custody in Kharkiv Parliament impeaches President Viktor Yanukovych President Yanukovych wherabouts unknown after fleeing Kiev Parliament appoints new speaker and interior minister Protesters take over security in Kiev

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