Friday, August 26, 2016

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Ukraine's Loyalist Russians

An ethnic Russian or Ukrainian?
An ethnic Russian or Ukrainian?

A country divided between a Ukrainian-speaking west and a Russian-speaking east. An irreconcilable schism forged in history and set in stone. Lviv vs. Luhansk; Orange vs. Blue.

It's long been a truism that Ukraine was hopelessly split. It's a truism repeated endlessly by the Kremlin's propaganda machine -- and one used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify his Novorossiya project.

But it's a truism that the majority of Ukraine's ethnic Russians -- in cities like Odesa and Mariupol in the south to Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia in the east to Kharkiv in the north -- are proving false. Most of Ukraine's ethnic Russians, it turns out, are loyal Ukrainian citizens.

On the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," we take a closer look at Ukraine's loyalist ethnic Russians. Joining me are Andreas Umland, a professor of Ukrainian and Russian history at Kyiv Mohyla University, and Natalya Churikova, senior editor of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and host of the program "European Connect." 


Podcast: Ukraine's Loyalist Russians
Podcast: Ukraine's Loyalist Russiansi
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Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes

Tags: Ukraine,Russia,Power Vertical podcast,Ukraine Crisis

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John from: Canada
October 17, 2014 22:06
According to Ukrainian's Azov Battalion soldier, "We aren’t anti-Russian here. Two-thirds of the guys speak Russian. But we are anti-Putin.”:
- More on the poll:
"Harvard Study Shows Russian-speaking Ukrainians Backing Kyiv":
In Response

by: Max from: Tallinn
October 19, 2014 15:45
So they are killing and torturing their own citizens because they are somehow "anti-putin"?

makes sence, lol..

To get a picture of how "fairly" the Russians are treated in Ukraine one has to merely note how even the name of the Russian city of Lugansk is a "divided" country is written in a ukrainian trascription in the article.

Denying anything connected to the Russian culture even exists is now a common trend is eastern europe for the last 23 years. No wonder the people are revolting when they get the chance.

Oh, and do an article about Ukrainians in the south-east fighting against the Kiev regime next time, thanks.
In Response

by: Irish Celt from: Ireland
October 20, 2014 18:16
But are they "their own citizens" or mercenaries from the Russian Federation? There is plenty of evidence e.g. arrests of fighters, of Chechens, Russian nationals e.g. Vladimir Mukharov the Cossack leader fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Indeed the levels of support from Russia suggests the locals aren't particularly supportive of them.
In Response

by: Bob
October 20, 2014 23:02
It's very clear that many folks in what was the Ukrainian SSR don't support the increased anti-Russian slants that came after Yanukovych's ouster.

There're alos Russian speakers there who aren't so offended. That aspect doesn't disprove the existence of the other
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 19, 2014 19:06
It's a pity the Kyiv government didn't pass anti-Putin laws instead of targetting Russian-speakers and painting Russia black. Had they been wiser none of the crap would have happened. That this quote comes from an "Azov battalion" speaks volumes in describing what happened.
In Response

by: caaps02 from: USA
October 20, 2014 16:25
So in what way is the city of Luhansk/Lugansk "Russian"?
In Response

by: mumba from: USA
October 21, 2014 03:40
Ireland is English-speaking. Even the IRA people are all English speakers. Nobody has ever raised that issue in the UK or anywhere else.

Why is this an issue in Ukraine?
In Response

by: Bob
October 22, 2014 20:15
Because Ukraine has a degree of extreme nationalist wackos.

by: Roman Serbyn from: Montreal
October 17, 2014 23:17
Good discussion, touching on important issues.

I loved Natalya's swipe on the" maturing" of Ukrainian political elites, and some of her other tongue-in-cheek comments.

The danger of the introduction of the Russian language as a second state language was understated. With 17 % ethnic Russians and over 50 % of the Republic's population using Russian in daily life, it is thus evident which language need protection and promotion.

I think the question about consequences for Russi of Ukraine's parting of the ways with Russia and joining Europe has not been adequately addressed. The main long-term effect will be beneficial not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia. After losing their Soviet empire, Russians will finally shed their imperialist mindset, which the Western colonial empires gradually discarded since WWII. It is in this perspective that the Russian language must not become a state language in Ukraine - the habit of the "obshche poniatnyi iazyk" was a powerful an important part of the imperial glue that kept Ukraine bound to Russia.
In Response

by: Mamuka
October 20, 2014 02:54
And if Ukraine is successful in its turn toward the West and away from Moscow, what will it mean for other post-Soviet states which today remain subservient?

As for language, I was surprised a few years ago to see that in Kyiv, all the street signs were in Ukrainian (as in Soviet times) and all the slick professionally produced ads were in Ukrainian (definitely NOT as in Soviet times) but all the little stickers on the metro advertising the usual post-soviet vitamins and preparaty were in Russian, the newspapers being given away as you came off the metro were in Russian, and most people seemed to be speaking Russian. And this was Kyiv, not Kharkiv or Donetsk. But somebody noted this on the podcast, that Maidan was as much po-russki as it was in Ukrainska mova.
In Response

by: Mamuka
October 20, 2014 02:56
PS the new Power Vertical Feed is great! I may finally have to get "on the twitter" as Brian might say.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 18, 2014 16:03
Totally agree, most Russians intermarried or just like it there.
Unlike under Russian Tyranny, which is millions square
Miles Treblinka type populated areas, watched by
Traditional Varag-Prussak evil "Stervyatniks",
Crushing base of pyramid, Ru-"kuryatnik",
Stealing-enslaving from top, Ru-bitches,
Through the streets, sucking as leaches.

Most of Russians for Ru-"Independentce"
Ru-Army, KGB-GRU and its dependents.
Also local Russian "mafia" that collecting
Since Russian Empire and USSR, spying
and enforcing "taxes" from Ukraine nation.
In Response

by: baldurdasche from: botswana
October 19, 2014 19:08
Enlighted EUkrainia isn't much of an improvement. It has all the same 'organs of state' plus a violent 'youth league', all enforcing a paranoid scheme of nationality.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 20, 2014 14:14
The same can be told about all E. Europe and Central Asia
Independent countries, chain of former Russia-occupation
still control many their leaders and 5th column still there.
It is more so for E. Ukraine, where Russian versus of
"Folks-Germans", Folks-Russians, under pressure
be loyal to Nazi Russia, or called traitors, as the
terrorist leaders already publicly called locals.

On one hand, controlling E. Ukraine terrorists
are enemies of Ukraine, terrorizing for Russia.
On another hand, the silent majority about 2/3
Ukrainians, thought badly damaged by Russia,
and good half of Russian-speaking population,
including intermarried and just local Russians,
for peace and for living in democratic Ukraine,
if only 'organs of state' of terror run to Russia.

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
October 18, 2014 16:18
Enjoyed the podcast; again much food for thought. I spend a considerable amount of time monitoring the major Russian media (primarily TV and radio) and the difference in perceptions portrayed on these Russian programs and your podcast is day/night. The Kremlin-sponsored media has been hammering home the assertion that the majority of residents in SE Ukraine would prefer to be a part of Russia. These Russian programs go on to assert that this desire is partially predicated upon the Ukrainian government remaining dysfunctional, and that the only organized structures remain the private armies of the corrupt oligarchs and various ultra-nationalist groups. These Russian media outlets would loudly argue that the disillusioned Ukrainian populace is on the verge of turning their backs on the empty promises from the EU/US, and that the demands of winter and economic collapse will bring them back into the Kremlin’s warm embrace. My guess is that the truth of Ukraine’s future is somewhere in the middle, and I think your program might benefit by including a guest who can share the Russian point of view.

by: Julian from: USA
October 18, 2014 18:06
For all his actions Putin is forging the national/geographic identity of Ukraine a multi-ethnic state. Put is selling Russia's economic birthright to China and the poor sod's in the Moscow do not even see it coming.

by: Aidan from: Australia
October 19, 2014 17:02
Ukraine is bankrupt.

If the EU wants another debt-ridden country then they will have to get German/French/UK and the IMF to bail them out, provide them with discounted gas, etc... in return for opening up Ukrainian markets and flooding them with EU goods.

Ukraine have already lost Crimea (and the $25 billion they would've profited from leasing the Black Sea fleet to Russia) and the future looks VERY bleak for them if they can not pay their debts. A future Greece?

Russia, on the other hand, have just entered into a $350-400 billion gas deal with China and have just discovered a $1 trillion gas reserve on the northern shores of Siberia.

And now it looks as if Ukraine won't even have enough gas to heat its citizens this winter without foreign (read EU) aid.

Poroshenko's decision to remove Russian as a state language was stupid. This led to the Crimean uprising and angered millions of Russian speaking East Ukrainians. It is nice to want to emphasize the national language and culture, but not through repression of Russia as an important minority language, especially in favor of English - a language which has no historical bearing on the country, simply an attempt to become 'Westernized' and to move away from Eastern influences in every day life.

Unfortunately, this article only shows ONE side of the story. Such articles are typical for pro-Western or pro-Russian articles. It's hard to find neutral articles when there's so much shameless propaganda and verbal attacks from both sides.

In Response

by: Bob
October 20, 2014 12:46
To be expected from RFE/RL as well Ray Finch and Roman Serbyn, who doesn't see much if any fault with such propaganda.

The segment in question grossly underrepresents the increased anti-Russian activity in Ukraine since Yanukovych's overthrow.
In Response

by: Aidan from: Australia
October 20, 2014 20:52
Well, this was my first comment on this blog and all their content appears to be heavily anti-Russian in nature. The problem with this is that it doesn't give an accurate representation of the events occurring in Ukraine. They should script and name their next segment 'Russia's Loyalist Ukrainians' and discuss Natalya Poklonskaya. But we both know they won't do such a thing because that's not what they're PAID to do.

Needless to say, it definitely looks as if the U.S.' $5 billion that went into supporting 'democracy' in Ukraine since the Western-backed and failed 2004 Orange Revolution worked this time around. And yes, I'm also familiar with the social scene of current Ukrainian events, radio and media (Poroshenko, Kolomoiskyy owned) is even worse than here. They're saying and doing anything to reignite the hatreds of the past. That's identity politics for us onlookers.

In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 20, 2014 14:32
"Aidan", like devil's name in reverse, is Russian "Nadia".
Threatening like invading Poland Hitler, "Tvoy dyadya".
Sure invaded country by Nazi Russia is in bad shape.
Sure it is Global energy problem, staffed by evil pipe,
Treachery of evilly gassing Nazi Russia till "Pobeda".

But as than, before the WW2 started, Humanity must
Defend itself for any price from expanding Nazi's trust.
Russia forge energy blockade, lure some oil countries,
Invading-cleansing other nation's lands and properties.
It's long overdue stop Russia, World conquering waste.
In Response

by: caaps02 from: USA
October 20, 2014 16:45
"Poroshenko's decision to remove Russian as a state language was stupid."????? Uh....Poroshenko never made any decision to "remove Russian as a state language".

As for the Crimean "uprising", there was never any such thing. There was an armed take over of Crimea by Russian speznaz who started their operation with the armed pre-dawn take-over of the Crimean parliament and who handed power over to Aksionov, the leader of a political party which had gained 4% of the populatr vote (and 3 seats out of 100) in the last election.
In Response

by: Aidan from: Australia
October 20, 2014 21:02
caaps02, get with the times. The decision was made in late July. And in early October he stated his desire to remove Russian in favor of English as the secondary language taught in school. I'm not going to cite media/government sources, you can find the information yourself.

In Response

by: Bob
October 20, 2014 23:09
The coupsters against Yanukovych initially accepted a Svoboda desire to scrap the language law which provided some paper safeguarding of the Russian and some other languages. Shortly thereafter, that move was stopped in a lax way. Mind you that law didn't even have Russian as an official language. Note the other countries with more than one official language.

Yes, there's intolerance exhibited in Kiev regime territory.

Crimea en masse has understandably not accepted what happened in Kiev. Russia looks a lot better than Ukraine, in addition to not having a noticeable anti-Russian influence.

by: Anonymous
October 20, 2014 09:00
The whole world starts using the payment system tinege, but you still have to suffer with credits. Especially because you can get it for free on their website of the same name. Tinege, it's money and payment system at the same time by connecting to the payment system, you become a bank, and you can produce tinege on the Internet by your own, the program is called mining. Soon, all the banks will be closed, and then there will be no need to return credits.

by: Roman Solchanyk from: California
October 22, 2014 18:36
False equivalence. The fact that many of Ukraine's Russian-speakers are patriots of Ukraine or even "nationalists" has little or nothing to do with the fact that the country is divided. That is a question, among other things, of regionalism.

The existence Russian-speaking Ukrainian patriots does not call into question the truism.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or