25 years since “Revolution on the granite”
In October we mark the 25-th anniversary of Ukrainian students’ protest known as "Revolution on the Granite".
Ukrainian students in October 1990 defended their right for dignity, freedom and their own state. Student Revolution lasted only 16 days and became the impetus for Ukrainian independence. The central square of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was covered with granite slabs, hence the name – "Revolution on the Granite". The forms of protest, which were chosen by the students – starvation, blocking main streets, strikes led them to the victory. These young people have demonstrated the possibility of the alternative to the USSR reality.
Responding to a call from opposition parties on September 30, 1990, 100,000 students gathered in Kyiv in solidarity against a proposed Union Treaty (a proposition by the Kremlin to strengthen ties among republics of the Soviet Union). On October 1, 1990, on the first day of the Supreme Soviet’s second session, 20,000 people protested in the streets and workers organized a one day warning strike. Taking note of the political climate and wave of support, the student coalition regrouped and formed an achievable list of demands, inclusive to that of the grievances of Ukrainians.
On October 2, 1990 a group of 200 students launched civil disobedience in support of their demands. The students occupied what they renamed Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Freedom Square), official name October Revolution Square, in Kyiv, initially erecting about 50 tents. This is the same square that would be later occupied by the Orange Revolution some fourteen years later and Dignity Revolution 23 years later. A core group of 200 students participated directly in the hunger strike, while many others joined to participate in the general strike over the next several days, increasing support to thousands of people. Opposition members of Parliament also joined, and solidarity swelled to about 15,000. The movement continued to gain support at an alarming rate. Workers from the Arsenal factory in Kyiv declared support for the students. Students all over Ukraine had either joined the strike in Kyiv, or staged sit-ins in solidarity at their local universities. By mid October, universities had become paralyzed due to lack of student attendance.
On Oct 15, movement demands were read aloud outside of parliament by one of the student organizers, Oles Doniy and nationally broadcast. Government acquiesced within two weeks of 15 days of the initiation of the hunger strike. On October 17, 1990, Parliament agreed to restrict the Soviet military within Ukraine (volunteers excepted), dropped consideration of the proposed Union Treaty, and several months later, Prime Minister Vitaliy Masol resigned and the Supreme Soviet agreed to allow multi-party elections.
"Revolution on the granite " was one of the most successful moments on the road to independence of Ukraine. It was the students' victory, the first defeat of the communist regime and the country's first step toward independence.
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