The Protests Turn Violent
Yanukovych Is Courting Disaster in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Victor Yanukovich is stuck between a rock and a hard place. How he responds to the latest violence could fatally deepen rifts in an already divided country.

Published on: January 19, 2014
Hannah Thoburn is a Eurasia analyst based in Washington, DC whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The National Interest.
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  • Honk

    Just split the country in half. Problem solved.

    • Tom

      No one will go for that, except maybe the western half.

      • Komm

        Kyiv would go to. With pleasure!

    • Киев русский город

      Would you split the country then only economically useless west part with Lviv (which is former polish region) become new Ukraine.
      All the rest parts would join Russia with a big relief.
      Lviv probably join Poland in soon. There is no such country as Ukraine historically and in reality

      • tnmc

        Actually, there is no “Russia” at all. Muscovy, yes. But “Russia” is a total fiction. There is no “Russian Republic” in the “Russian Federation”. Moscow was a swamp when Kyiv was the centre of a great empire. You, Little Brother Moskal’, so sit in the corner and learn your history.

      • Komm

        Your nickname (Kyiv russian city) says it all.

  • Max Loginov

    crowd of 18-22 y o morons who dont care if it football match or revolution, they just need to crash and fight, named opposite demonstrators? lol for 1 day usual radical guy have about 150 ukr grivna its 20$ in usd. they r ready for 20$ per day to crash their country. Juda only smiles of that.

  • Yulia

    OMG!!! We`re tired from the USA and EU. We can decide our problems ourself. Hannah Thoburn, you`re lier! In Ukraine all South-East wants to be with Russia! Its not 17 % for sure. If you`re really analyst you should to know that in UA just west of country is dreaming about EU. Anyway take care about your own country and leave us alone.

  • Dave6034

    I visited Ukraine once in May 2003. A local TV crew interviewed me, and their last question was, “What do you wish for the people of Ukraine?” I answered “Boring life, because Ukrainians tell me that life here is much too interesting.” They laughed and agreed.

  • tnmc

    That “Fully 50% are against the Maidan” statistic you pulled didn’t mention that fully 45% support it with an interesting 6% listed as unsure. With a 2.2% margin of error that is statistically a wash.

  • Komm

    Sorry but the statistics you are refering to was made by pro-goverment social research institution. Of course they wont tell you that people do not support govt. Instead you can refer to ‘Razumkov Center’ institution that proved to be independent both to govt and opposition. Its fresh research (done in january) shows that 50% approve Maydan (western, northern and central regions of Ukraine), 42% disapprove (east and south). But the main thing is that paid progovt protests (awkward?) are only approved by 27% and 57% disapproved them. Taking into account lack of freedom of speech, free press and USSR style govt propaganda one would barely imagine how low would be real support of president politics in fair environment. Another interesting part of ‘Razumkov Center’ research shows that around 20% of people would agree to limits their freedom in exchange for welfare (take into account that Ukraine is poor country with its own meaning of ‘welfare’).

    Another thing is that alot of people in eastern regions of Ukraine have immigrated from Russia during USSR times or associate themselves as russians and so are under additional influence of Russian govt propaganda.

    As for the ‘commentators’ bellow. I dont know whether somebody on opposition protests are being paid or not. I’ve never heard of it, i’ve attended it on my own will and so do all of my friends. And it is proven fact that progovt protesters are either being paid, either being there under fear of losing job (if they are civil ‘servants’).

    And it would be actually a great idea to separate eastern and southern regions into a separate country. But it wont happen not because east feeds west and west wont agree. It’s actually a lie: eastern regions actually take most donations from budget, with Donetsk, homeland of Yanukovich, being the most donated region and with income less then spendings. Separation wont happen because all of major political forces (including opposition) are ruled by the oligarchs and their money and for them – the bigger the budget the better (cause they steal it).

    And please be aware of paid commentators hired by ua govt

  • gabrielsyme

    I’m surprised Yanukovych didn’t calculate that he could ride out the protests without real threat to his administration. Time was already lessening the protests, and surely would have continued to do so. By opting for an authoritarian solution, Yanukovych perhaps gives himself a better chance at long-term rule, but he also increases the odds of his overthrow.

    The irony is that the Ukraine need not be so rigidly divided. The people of the East, while some speak Russian proper, many speak Ukrainian. The languages are not rigidly divided, with the eastern dialects of Ukrainian closer to Russian. There are complex religious divisions, but since each group (Greek Catholic, Moscow Patriarchate, Kyev Patriarchate) asserts a national interest, that doesn’t seem likely to drive division either.

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