MOSCOW, January 22 (Sputnik) – Each year on January 22, the Day of Unity of Ukraine commemorates the early, short-lived unification of the country. This year, however, Ukraine's hard-won unity celebrations have been marred with intensified mortar shelling and the killing of civilians in the east of the country which was once united under the Unification Act.
The state holiday dates back to January 22, 1919, when a Unification Act was signed between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic, separate territories which emerged in the wake of the First World War. On December 30, 1922, United Ukraine became one of the first four constituent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
"The territory of Ukraine, divided over the centuries, including Galicia, Bukovyna, Carpathian Ruthenia, and Dnieper Ukraine, will now become a great-united Ukraine. Dreams, for which the best sons of Ukraine fought and died for, have come true," the Directorate of the Ukrainian People's Republic wrote, as cited on the official website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 1990, when the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse, the day was declared a state holiday. To mark the event, over 300,000 people joined hands to form a 482 km human chain stretching from Kiev, Ukraine's capital, to the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine.
The Day was celebrated with Unity Chains from 2008 to 2011. On November 29, 2013 another another event marked the unity of the country — Unity Chain stretched from Ukraine to Europe. The 625 km chain was formed when 520 thousand people held hands.
This year, however, the country chose a different way to celebrate its long-fought-for unity.
Earlier on Thursday, a mortar struck a trolley bus stop in the city killing between 9 and 15 people, according to various sources, and left several more injured.
Donetsk News Agency, citing authorities from eastern Ukraine's self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, reported that 13 people had been killed and dozens were injured in the mortar strike.
Earlier on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Emergencies Ministry told RIA Novosti that Ukrainian forces had attacked the Lenin District of Donetsk, wounding and possibly killing several civilians.
While the country’s President Poroshenko is pledging in Davos that he is fighting for European values, nothing has been said about the civilians being killed in his country. The Ukrainian leader vowed to create a new country. The long-cherished Unity therefore seems not to matter any longer.