Differences Between Euromaidan and Aragalaya
Posted on April 29th, 2023

Dilrook Kannangara

A recent book by a parliamentarian equates the events of Aragalaya (2022) in Sri Lanka to Euromaidan uprising (2013) of Ukraine. However, the two are vastly different; in fact, opposed to each other. Most of these claims are unsubstantiated and only based on either hearsay or guesses. Understanding key differences between Euromaidan and Aragalaya is important.

On the surface both were aimed at removing their respective elected presidents and both relied heavily on social media. As with every trouble spot around the world, Americans were seen around both. However, similarities end there.

One major difference between Euromaidan and Aragalaya is that the former was driven by Urkainian ethno-nationalism while the latter (Aragalaya) shunned nationalism. Euromaidan was not supported by Ukraine’s minorities and in fact hurt their businesses, connections and even security. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine were severely affected by the Euromaidan Uprising. On the contrary, Aragalaya had the support of all minorities including Christians. Instead of alienating minorities, Aragalaya created unity with minorities. Following Euromaidan, all minorities in Ukraine felt unsafe and a civil war started targeting them which escalated into a full-scale war in 2022. However, Aragalaya on the other hand strengthened reconciliation between ethnic groups both during its activities and even after its conclusion. The deposed Ukrainian president won his mandate from Ukrainians of all ethnicities but the deposed Sri Lankan president only won his mandate from the majority community. Over 90% of Ukraine’s minorities voted for Yanukovych but over 90% of minorities rejected the deposed Sri Lankan president. Events after each uprising were significantly shaped by this difference.

Although Euromaidan changed the policies of Ukraine’s government, Aragalaya didn’t. Even after Aragalaya, the same policies are carried out by the Sri Lankan regime. Real power still remains with the same people in Sri Lanka.

Euromaidan Uprising had political leadership from the formal opposition of the nation despite being jailed. However, Sri Lanka’s Aragalaya had no such political leadership. Individuals with no political party membership at that time led it collectively. Some of them have since been lured into various political parties but they were not party members at the time of Aragalaya.

After Euromaidan, the then Ukrainian president fled to Russia where he lives. However, the Sri Lankan president returned to Sri Lanka where he and his wife live.

The then Ukrainian president ordered its military to attack civilians who participated in Euromaidan but the Sri Lankan president did not. In fact, the Sri Lankan president himself designated Galle Face as a protest site, provided sanitation facilities to participants, police assistance to ensure the safe passage of vehicles and the general safety of participants, water facilities and even allowed them to occupy high security zones for months. The then Ukrainian president had Russia in mind for his retirement whereas the Sri Lankan president had USA in his mind for his retirement. Aragalaya replaced Sri Lanka’s US citizen First Lady and US citizen economic affairs minister with local citizens.

The Ukrainian president was accused of major corruption during his term as president but the Sri Lankan president did not have serious accusations of corruption against him during his term as president.

Another key difference is the fate of participants. All participants of Euromaidan were released from court cases and criminal liability but hundreds of participants of Aragalaya face court action, are remanded and some are convicted.

Ukraine had a thriving economy when Euromaidan was launched, however, Sri Lanka had a shrinking economy for the third consecutive year when Aragalaya was launched. In fact, Sri Lanka declared loan creditors’ bankruptcy with a week of the official commencement of Aragalaya in April 2022. Ukraine then had adequate supply of electricity, gas, fuel and fertilizer when Euromaidan was launched. In fact, Ukraine was a net exporter of all these then! On the other hand, Sri Lanka suffered severe fuel, gas, electricity and fertilizer shortages when Aragalaya was launched. Fuel queues stretched up to 10 kilometres, gas queues lasted for five days and electricity was supplied for only 14 hours a day. Farmers had to forgo fertilizer for over a year.

Ukraine maintained a single-digit inflation rate when Euromaidan was launched. Sri Lanka had double-digit inflation which was the fourth worst in the world when Aragalaya was launched.

Euromaidan was opposed by Russia but Aragalaya was not. In fact, Russia extended trade with Sri Lanka even more after Aragalaya in terms of fertilizer, tourism and tea and also extended a very generous fuel offer which Sri Lanka rejected. Sri Lankan authorities detained a Russian passenger plane before Aragalaya but following the change, none of it was even contemplated.

Ukraine’s relations with China suffered heavily following Euromaidan but Sri Lanka’s relations with China improved following the change brought by Aragalaya.

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