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Novorossiya Is to Eastern Ukraine as Euromaidan Was to Western

  • Novorossiya revolution was a grass-roots movement which appealed to East Ukraine in the same way Maidan appealed to its Western parts
  • Neither did Maidan have support in the East, nor was the uprising in the East the work of outside forces

An excellent scholars conference on Ukraine was held early this month at the University of Ottawa.

We've already featured much from there including the lectures given by the Canadian military historian Paul Robinson and James Bisset the former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania.

A summary of all the days' lectures has also been produced since.

We are citing parts of summaries of two other lectures, by Canadian-Ukrainian scholars Olga Ostriichuk and Halyna Mokrushyna that make an important point.

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at Truthout

Olga Ostriichuk:

For those who wanted to hear and see, it was clear that the demands of the Maidan were formulated and supported, above all, by people from Western Ukraine.

There was a great deal of logistical support and car-pooling to feed the contestations on Maidan Square in Kyiv, including the occupation of governmental buildings on Maidan from the start, in December, when there was no violence on Maidan.

Nationalist slogans, such as "Ukraine above all," were shouted on Maidan all throughout, so much so that they became trivial.

Nationalist themes were recreated on Maidan with symbols, folk costumes, slogans, a strong presence of nationalist flags, especially those of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.

All these very quickly replaced symbols of the European Union. All of this led to the radicalization of Maidan and of the Ukrainian society at large.

Halyna Mokrushyna:

Donbas did not understand and approve of Euromaidan. Euromaidan destroyed the order and stability that Donbas people value. Euromaidan was also about nationalist, anti-Russian rhetoric, which Donbas rejects. It is only logical that Donbas rebelled, Mokrushyna said.

From the regional referendum of 1994 to the Russian-sympathetic protests in downtown Donetsk in early March of 2014, Donbas has been demanding more autonomy from the central government in Kyiv, that Russian be an official, second language of Ukraine, and that a close political alliance be maintained with Russia.

These demands kept falling on the deaf years in Kyiv regime, no matter who was the President.

So Donbas residents took the initiative in the spring of 2014, inspired by the popular mobilizations of Euromaidan.

This popular mobilization of Donbas activists occupied administrative buildings and led to the proclamation of the People's Republic of Donetsk (PRD) in April.

Thus was born the Donetsk region insurgency. It was a grassroots movement which reacted to the anti-Russian ideology and actions of the new Ukrainian political rulers who had seized power in Kiev.

They refused Donbas a right to hold a referendum, so it went ahead and organized its own, in May.

The PRD is an attempt at a new political and social project which reflects the ideas and aspirations of a great part of Donetsk region residents - a socialist welfare state with traditionalist values where all citizens are respected, regardless of their national or religious belonging, and where two official languages – Russian and Ukrainian – are recognized.

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