Disinfo: 2014 coup in Kyiv led to Crimea referendum, Donbas war


In 2014, Ukraine was rocked by mass rallies and experienced a coup d’état in Kiev which forced president Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country.

In the wake of this, Crimea rejoined Russia following a March referendum on the peninsula, with 96 percent voting for reunification, while Donetsk and Lugansk declared their independence and refused to obey the new government in Kyiv.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan, the illegal annexation of Crimea, and the war in Ukraine.

There was no coup d'état in Ukraine. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here.

No international body has recognised the so-called Crimea referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014. Thirteen members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a resolution declaring the referendum invalid. On the 27th of March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. On December 17, 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. On the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of the landgrab and continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The international community, including the European Union recognises and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. 


  • Reported in: Issue 173
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, War in Ukraine, Coup, Donbas, Euromaidan, Referendum, Crimea


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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