KYIV -- Several thousand Ukrainians rallied in Kyiv and other cities to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the pro-democracy protests that eventually led the Moscow-backed president to flee the country.
Some 5,000 people gathered on November 21 at the central square in the capital to mark the success of the so-called Maidan movement but also to mourn the lives lost and to express disappointment the protests did not end the endemic corruption that played a role in sparking the demonstrations late in 2013.
Gatherings were also reported in the cities of Odesa, Lviv, Dnipro, and Kharkiv.
The Maidan protest in Kyiv started on November 21, 2013, after then-President Viktor Yanukovych announced he was rejecting a far-ranging political and economic pact with the European Union called an Association Agreement. The same day, then-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s cabinet shelved the agreement.
According to the United Nations, 98 people were killed -- including 84 protesters and 13 law-enforcement officers -- during nearly three months of protests in central Kyiv’s Independence (Maidan) Square.
Ukraine's Prosecutor-General’s Office put the death toll at 104 people.
The majority of the killings took place at the height of the protests on February 20, 2014.
In the commemorations, several hundred people assembled in Kyiv on the street where most of the protesters were shot, known as the Alleyway of the Heavenly Hundred. They brought flowers and icon lamps, and a prayer service for the dead was held in the evening.
In Lviv, residents brought icon lamps to the memorial for the fallen.
About 100 people assembled at Odesa’s regional administration building. Local Maidan activists and journalists were severely beaten at the spot on February 19, 2014, by people the protesters described as hired thugs.
Several hundred assembled at Dnipro’s regional government building holding lighted torches, carrying blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags and chanting the slogan, "No Capitulation!"