The Revolution on Granite

How did Ukraine gain Independence

“We had been prepared to be beaten up, but every day more people were on the square,” he told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. “Kyivans came, telegrams were sent to us, and there was a warm atmosphere. I was 19 years old and afraid of nothing with my friends.”

Mykola Bohoslavets, a student at Lviv Polytechnic

One of the crucial pages in the fight for Ukrainian Independence at the end of the 20th century was the Revolution on Granite, the first modern Ukrainian revolution.

The Soviet authoritarian regime quelled all possible protests, but in 1990 it couldn’t deal with the level of societal discontent, especially in Ukraine.

The protest was organized mainly by students who set tents on the cold granite slabs of the famous Maidan in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv from 2 October until 18 October 1990.

The tent city in the centre of Kyiv

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The beginning

The Ukrainian Student Union was deeply unsatisfied with the results of the March 1990 Ukrainian parliamentary election, where the Communist Party of Ukraine won the majority of the seats in the parliament of the Ukrainian SSR. The students declared that the Democratic Bloc ought to have won a majority.

A hunger strike

The students announced a hunger strike. In the following days, many other organizations and individuals joined the protest. Among them is the People’s Movement of Ukraine, which played a significant role in the fight for an Independent Ukraine.

The sign reads: “We won’t eat, we won’t drink until leaving the Union.”

Photo credit The activists demanded not to sign a newly proposed Union Treaty, which would transform the Soviet Union into the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, because the protestors didn’t want to live in any Soviet state but in independent Ukraine.

The sign reads: “It’s better to die than live in the Soviet Union.”

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A student hunger striker wearing symbolic shackles. The sign reads: “We won’t eat, we won’t drink until we will live freely.”

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The protestors were singing, playing music, and reading poems.

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The result

In 16 days, the protest met some of the demands. The main was the dismissal of the Prime Minister of the USSR, Vitaliy Masol.

The Revolution on Granite had a significant impact on the future collapse of the Soviet Union and the Independence of Ukraine. It also set an example for the coming revolutions in Ukraine, which also took place in Maidan and demanded democratic changes.

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