More and More Ukrainians Waking Up from Maidan-Induced Stupor

Deep seated Russian sympathy, history, and identity cannot be eradicated from Ukraine, try as some extremists might

Thu, Jan 28, 2016
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Anti-Maidan and pro-Russian rally in Kharkov in Spring 2014
Anti-Maidan and pro-Russian rally in Kharkov in Spring 2014

The author is a famous Russian writer and left-wing activist whose books have been translated into seventeen languages. He has reported widely from war torn Donbass


At first they were sure that ‘Ukrainians will change their minds’ – when the economy is in ruins.

Then they realized they won’t change their minds because the worse the situation is inside Ukraine, the more the Maidaners hate Russia.  

It seems the reality is both more complex and simpler. You do not need to unify Ukraine’s 40 million people: they can’t be painted with the same brush.  

A large part of society will never change its mind, becoming ever more wicked.  Another large segment identifies with Russia; in fact, millions of people in Ukraine consider themselves as Russians. The third and perhaps largest group tends to go from one to the other, but at bottom, they have no opinion.

During escalations of conflict and hence of exasperation, only the first group is heard. Yet it is naïve to believe that all of Ukraine is intimidated by torch-light processions and exhibitions of force.

In Kharkov in 2014, Russian-friendly protests gathered a hundred thousand people. These people exist in every large Ukrainian city – they may be fewer than in Kharkov, but they are millions.  

A moment of ‘truth’ happened recently on Russian liberal journalist Mathew Ganapolskiy’s show on Ukrainian TV that supports Kiev’s ‘anti-terrorist operation’.  

He posted the question: ‘Are Ukrainians ready for the Donbass parties and politicians to take part in all-Ukraine elections? ’. Forty thousand people phoned in – exceeding every other poll in number of respondents. Until the last minute, 52% had voted for the Donbass to join the Ukraine political scene, while 48% were against. In the last minute the percentage evened up to 50:50. Ganapolskiy tried to remain calm, as if nothing important was happening. Russian ‘imperialists’ have always been claiming that Ukraine was ‘split in two’.

An unsustainable social situation in Ukraine, a ‘Crimea blockade’, fights in the Verkhovna Rada, Saakashvili confronting Avakov, the obvious dependency of the Ukrainian authorities on the US, the conviction that it is impossible to solve the conflict in Donbass by military means – strange as it may seem, these factors allowed part of Ukrainian society to lift its head up.

Responsible people in Ukraine understand that there is no Ukraine without trade with Russia. The West’s friendly, warm-hearted love for Ukraine is the greatest lie of the century. The head of French intelligence just stated that the USA lied about the Russian army being present in Ukraine. It’s clear that NATO won’t come to the rescue, and Obama is a lame duck.  

Strange as it might seem, only Russia can guarantee Ukraine’s independence.  

The atmosphere in Ukraine is changing, as yet imperceptibly.

Ukrainians increasingly go to Russian state TV and Internet media - more often than that of the liberal opposition.

While in the Donbass where I work and spend more time than at home, I learned an interesting statistic: more Ukrainian soldiers defect to the Donbass than the other way round.

On the map, the Donbass is a small piece of a vast country. But it has something that makes people believe in this side, its truth and its force.

We really can’t say goodbye to Ukraine as a whole.

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