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Ukraine Marks 'Heavenly Hundred's Day' On Anniversary Of Euromaidan Bloodshed

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena, pay their respects at the memorial dedicated to people who died in clashes with security forces in 2014 at Independence Square in Kyiv on February 20.

KYIV -- Ukrainians are marking Heavenly Hundred's Day on the sixth anniversary of a deadly crackdown against the Euromaidan protests that toppled Ukraine's pro-Russian former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

The commemorations honor those who were killed in Kyiv during clashes with Yanukovych's security forces on February 20, 2014.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena, were among Ukrainians who laid flowers at the Monument to the Heavenly Hundred in Kyiv's Independence Square -- Maidan Nezalezhnosti -- on February 20.

The Euromaidan movement began in November 2013 when protesters gathered at the central square in Kyiv to protest Yanukovych's decision not to sign a crucial trade accord with the European Union and, instead, seek closer economic ties with Russia.

Ukrainian prosecutors say 104 people were killed and 2,500 injured as a result of violent crackdowns by authorities against protesters from February 18-20, 2014.

Shunning a deal backed by the West and Russia to end the standoff, Yanukovych abandoned power and fled Kyiv on February 21, 2014.

The former president, who was secretly flown to Russia and remains there, denies that he ordered police to fire on protesters.

Yanukovych claims the violence was the result of a “planned operation” to overthrow his government.

In March 2014, shortly after Yanukovych's downfall, Russian military forces seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula -- a precursor to the Kremlin's forcible annexation of the territory through a hastily organized and widely discredited referendum.

Russia also has supported pro-Russia separatists who are fighting Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in that conflict since April 2014.

In Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on February 20, religious ceremonies were scheduled to commemorate those killed during the Euromaidan protests.

Later on February 20, Euromaidan protest participants and other activists plan to rally in front of the presidential administration building in Kyiv under the slogan: "Ukraine Is Still On The Front Lines Fighting For Euromaidan's Ideas."

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien said in a February 20 statement that the Heavenly Hundred's "sacrifice was not in vain."

"The Heavenly Hundred continue to inspire Ukrainians from Uzhhorod to Mariupol, they inspire others around the world standing up for democracy and rule of law," Kvien said in a video statement issued on Twitter. "The United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine in the effort to build strong democratic institutions.

"We remain committed to partnering with the people of Ukraine in support of Ukraine's democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and in support of the Euro-Atlantic future, for which the Heavenly Hundred sacrificed their lives,” Kvien said.