Event Summary: ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’


by Rachel Oliver

On the 13th April 2016, Lord Risby hosted the Henry Jackson Society event ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’ in which Evgeny Afinnevsky, Producer and Director, delivered a talk on the making of the Oscar-nominated documentary.

Evgeny Afinnevsky opened the talk by explaining what an amazing experience it was to film the documentary and the huge impact which the situation in Ukraine had in changing history. Evgeny commented that the student demonstrations in 2013 were a fascinating festival of young people who wanted a better future. To him, he thought the protests were very different from the Orange Revolution in 2004 as it was self-organised youths demonstrating, not allowing politicians to join them.

When the police intervened in the demonstrations in November 2013, no-one could have predicted the events which drastically unfolded with unarmed students being beat and prevented from demonstrating. Evgeny explained that at that moment everything change and the citizens of the Ukraine experienced an emotional eruption. Millions of people descended on the streets of Kiev to show support for the students and make their voice be heard. It was no longer a protest about integration, but a fight for freedom. Evgeny described seeing a unity of all different people, regardless of age, nationality, religious belief of social class.

Evengy commented that despite efforts from the EU and USA diplomats to peacefully resolve the issues, President Yanukovich did not engage. In January 2014 after the government of Yanukovich announced it was going to pass a number of absurd laws, a march descended to parliament where people wanted to fight for their civil rights. Evgeny described what he witnessed during January and February of 2014. Violence between protesters and the police, Berkut and Titushky exploded which resulted in many deaths and causalities.

Evgeny stated that Ukraine is still going through a difficult process now and it although it will take time, he believes that Ukraine will be able to achieve a better future. Maidan will always stand as a reminder to the people of Ukraine for the price people paid for democracy and for freedom.


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