Ukraine between West and East: The Ethnic Problems of Post-Soviet Space

By Shlapentokh, Dmitry | The World and I, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Ukraine between West and East: The Ethnic Problems of Post-Soviet Space


Shlapentokh, Dmitry, The World and I


I recently visited Ukraine, the country in which I was born but which I had not visited for more than thirty years. I saw a lot of problems in post-Soviet Ukraine; one of the most important is the ethnic/regional split. This problem has two important manifestations: the clear split between East and West, and the issue of ethnic Russians.

The two Ukraines

In discussions, Ukraine (which is approaching elections) is often seen as a unified country that gravitates toward either Russia or the West. But there is another dimension to this problem: the regional differences between the West and the Russified East. The different parts of Ukraine actually imply not just mutually exclusive geopolitical orientations but a possible split of one part of Ukraine from the other. It was clear to me during my visit that the conflict between West and East is not fictitious.

Even if there is no open animosity, a degree of alienation clearly exists. For some residents of Western/Central Ukraine, the Russified Ukrainians of the industrial East are backward folk who still live in the Soviet era, and this backwardness makes them different from the more advanced residents of Central and Western Ukraine. This view of the East, as exemplified by the industrialized and Russified Donbas region, was conveyed to me by a relative who had visited Donbas. According to him, the views of the locals have hardly changed since the Orange Revolution. People still live as if they were under socialism. They do not even know how to engage in trade; the saleswomen at the market were rude and did their best not to attract customers but scare them off. The miners still believe the state should take care of them, so instead of adjusting themselves to the market, they sit down and bang their helmets on the ground. People of this sort, he implied, also believe they would be better off if this area were affiliated with Russia.

According to my relative, all mines and enterprises in this part of Ukraine are controlled by a few oligarchs, with Yanukovich chief. The plans of these oligarchs will not work. No one will put them in prison, but Iushchenko will just proclaim privatization illegal and take over their enterprises In fact, such tactics are quite similar to those of Putin. Deprived of their property, my relative implied, the East Ukrainian oligarchs and their vassals--the proletariat--would stop toying with the idea of separation from Ukraine and joining Russia.

While my relative believed that force could be used against both Ukrainians and ethnic Russians who engaged in troublemaking in the East, other interlocutors thought that force could and should be used selectively. I asked one of the Ukrainians in the archive what the Ukrainian government would do in case of an attempt by Eastern Ukraine to split. He responded that it would be the Russians who would instigate the troubles. Ukrainians should deal harshly with these Russians and deport them. Violence in such a case was quite acceptable. I responded by asking what the central authorities should do if ethnic Ukrainians were among the rebels. Should force be employed in such a case? He hesitated for a moment and then stated that the state should not use force against Ukrainians and should convince them to change their minds.

While the people from the West and Central Ukraine with whom I came in contact looked at people from the East with suspicion and regarded them as harboring separatist feelings, either because of their own propensity or because of Russian plotting, people from the East that I talked with often had the same feeling toward those from West Ukraine.

The women from Donetsk complained that while they themselves had been working, the participants in the Orange Revolution had spent their time in demonstrations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ukraine between West and East: The Ethnic Problems of Post-Soviet Space
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.