“Ukraine without Kuchma” movement, the Pope’s Visit: what happened in Ukraine in 2001

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2001 was remembered by the “Ukraine without Kuchma” movement and the Pope’s first visit. The erection of the Independence Monument and the new hryvnia (UAH) banknote also marked this year. In addition, the first and so far the only population census in Ukraine took place in 2001.

We tell about it in the new issue of the documentary series “30 years of Independence” on the UA TV channel.

Thus, in 2001, the country conducted a census – the first since Soviet times. In the next twenty years of its history, Ukraine will not dare to conduct a new census.

“Kuchma – away”, “Ukraine without Kuchma” – under such banners and posters, usually handwritten, the whole beginning of 2001 in Ukraine passed. The protests were announced by 24 political parties at once – from the right to the left. The differences were temporarily forgotten. Among the leaders of the protest are Oleksandr Moroz’s Socialists. It was he who brought Melnychenko’s records to the Rada.

“People of different political persuasions, I say that this was almost the only such union, where representatives of the Movement or other parties formed on its basis, and the Socialists were together” – said Oleksandr Moroz, co-coordinator of the “Ukraine Without Kuchma” campaign.

The president also had defenders, Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko and Speaker Ivan Plyushch. In the midst of the protests, they signed a “letter of three” to their compatriots, assuring that “an unprecedented political campaign with all the signs of psychological warfare has been launched against the state”.

Volodymyr Chemerys is a human rights activist, one of the first to protest. He recalls that the name of the action “Ukraine without Kuchma” was born by itself. For those who protested, it was Kuchma who embodied all the negative things that were happening in the country at the time.

“This is a change in the system, the socio-economic system of oligarchic capitalism, this is a change in the political system of the presidential republic to a parliamentary republic. It was the first time that there was such a big slogan: “We are for a parliamentary republic” and, of course, there was a demand for an objective investigation into the Gongadze case” – he said.

After the spring peak, the protests gradually came to naught.

A mural with Pope John Paul II is on one of the buildings in Kyiv. It appeared in the late 2010s, when mural fashion came. The pontiff visited Kyiv much earlier – in 2001. The visit was prepared for several years.

Also in 2001, two missions came to Ukraine at once: the IMF and the World Bank. Organizations give loans, but Ukraine had to continue reforms instead. The government was persuaded to continue the privatization of regional power companies. This immediately provoked social protests, people were afraid of tariff increases.