Ukraine Country says 'no' to Russia on pro-EU revolt anniversary

He said at a ceremony in Kiev that the former Soviet republic would never revert to its Moscow-dominated past.

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A woman cries at a memorial in Kiev for activists who lost their lives in February 2014, on November 21, 2016 play

A woman cries at a memorial in Kiev for activists who lost their lives in February 2014, on November 21, 2016

(AFP)
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Ukraine on Monday marked the third anniversary of the start of its pro-EU revolution with President Petro Poroshenko's firm rejection of "the Russian world".

The so-called Euromaidan protests lasted three months and culminated in a bloodbath that claimed the lives of more than 100 largely unarmed people and about 20 anti-riot police.

Poroshenko has declared November 21 the Day of Dignity and Peace.

He said at a ceremony in Kiev that the former Soviet republic would never revert to its Moscow-dominated past.

"The Revolution of Dignity put an end to our Russian-Soviet past and the post-Soviet period," said Poroshenko.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has declared November 21 the Day of Dignity and Peace play

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has declared November 21 the Day of Dignity and Peace

(AFP/File)

"It has established a clear demarcation line.

"It has separated our Ukrainian and European world from the Russian world."

Pro-Western proponents blamed the February 2014 bloodshed squarely on Moscow-backed then-president Viktor Yanukovych -- a leader who had earlier rejected a landmark European Union alliance in favour of closer Russian ties.

Yanukovych was impeached by parliament and fled to Russia in a secret operation organised by the Kremlin.

Russia was furious because it had wanted to enlist Ukraine in its own political and economic bloc that could stand up to the European Union and possibly even NATO.

It responded by annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 and then witnessed the outbreak of a pro-Moscow separatist war in Ukraine's east that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

Moscow denies charges of backing the fighting.

But the US Mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said last week it had witnessed 30,000 people in military dress crossing the border from Russia into the Ukrainian war zone via the two checkpoints to which the OSCE has had access since 2014.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande had also launched efforts in February 2015 to revive a stalled peace process during talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko.

But Berlin said on Monday that it saw no signs that a resolution to one of Europe's bloodiest conflicts since the 1990s Balkans War was in sight.

A planned roadmap for peace was, "like everything to do with the business of trying to end the conflict in Ukraine, extremely arduous and moving along rather sluggishly", German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said in Berlin.

Russian pundits and senior politicians often refer to Ukrainians as their Slavic brothers and consider Yanukovych's ouster an illegal "coup".

Ukraine has since then signed the EU political and economic association pact and is trying to apply for membership to the bloc by 2020.

Poroshenko has also irritated Moscow by promising to stage a referendum on whether Ukraine should apply for NATO membership as well. Ukrainian support for the Western military alliance has swelled in the past three years.

But Putin calls the bloc's eastward expansion in the post-Soviet era one of the reasons relations between Moscow and the West have touched their post-Cold War low.

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