Saturday, August 27, 2016


In Ukraine, Protests Highlight 'Generational Rift'

Students take part in a rally to support EU integration in Kyiv on November 26.
Students take part in a rally to support EU integration in Kyiv on November 26.
By Claire Bigg
Rallies against Kyiv's decision to shelve a landmark pact with the European Union are gaining momentum in Ukraine, with students emerging as the backbone of the protests.

Students have been skipping classes to protest President Viktor Yanukovych's abrupt policy U-turn away from Europe in favor of closer ties with Russia. The decision came just days before he was expected to sign the pact at a summit in Vilnius on November 29.

Tens of thousands of students across the country rallied on November 27 for a seventh consecutive day, banging on drums, chanting pro-European slogans, and calling on Yanukovych to reverse course and sign the pact.

In the western city of Lviv, a center of the protests, as many as 30,000 students took to the streets on November 26.

Borys Poshivak, a 23-year-old agriculture student and one of the leaders of the Lviv rallies, said that students feel European. "They want Ukraine to become a full-fledged member of the European family. They simply want to live with dignity."

No Memory Of The Soviet Union

The demonstrations have brought to the forefront a new generation of protesters that grew up in an independent Ukraine and have faint -- if any -- memories of the Soviet Union. They see themselves as Europeans, they are disillusioned with politics as usual, and they feel increasingly at odds with establishment opposition figures.


"We are now witnessing a generational rift in Ukraine," says Yaroslav Hrytsak, a Lviv-based historian. "Young Ukrainians resemble young Italians, Czech, Poles, or Germans more than they resemble Ukrainians who are 50 and older. This generation has a stronger desire for European integration and fewer regional divides than their seniors."
The western city of Lviv has emerged a center of the student-led pro-EU rallies.
The western city of Lviv has emerged a center of the student-led pro-EU rallies.

The rallies in the Ukrainian capital have seen the largest turnout since the 2004 Orange Revolution that ousted Yanukovych after an electoral victory denounced as rigged.

They are particularly poignant since they are taking place on the anniversary of the Orange Revolution and on the same Independence Square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where the events unfolded nine years ago.

The fresh wave of protests has been dubbed "EuroMaidan."

Agree On The Goals, Disagree On The Methods

But while the demonstrators are united by a common desire for European integration, they are deeply divided over the methods.

On the one side, students and other mostly young demonstrators are conducting a civic protest that they don't want to see hijacked by political parties. On the other side, older opposition activists describe the rallies as political and have brandished party banners and flags.

So far, most of the opposition leaders have refused to heed the students' requests to get rid of party symbols.

Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the ultranationalist All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda party, said he thought it was very much in the authorities' interest to stage a protest with no political banners. "They just want to discourage people," he said. "Those who have no banners have no political demands. But isn't the demand that the Association Agreement be signed a political demand?"

ALSO READ: Ukraine's East-West Dilemma Evokes Century-Old Memories

The divide is most visible in Kyiv, where both camps have been holding geographically separate rallies in spite of a joint statement proclaiming their unity.

Despite subzero temperatures, students have vowed to remain camped out on squares at least until the Vilnius summit ends on November 29. They have formed their own security patrol tasked with preventing clashes and making sure no political banners are unfurled. 

Coordinating committees have been set up, with volunteers distributing blankets, food, and warm clothes donated by supporters. In Kyiv, the coordinating committee also organizes private accommodation for demonstrators travelling from other cities.

Question image

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Ukraine?

Situated right in the heart of Europe, Ukraine's rich and varied history has left an indelible mark on the old continent.

The protest has drawn comparison to the international Occupy movement, with its strong social-media base, its denunciation of social and economic inequality, and its distrust of traditional politics.

"This year's Maidan looks more like the Occupy movement than like the 2004 Maidan," historian Hrytsak says. "It's largely apolitical due to a strong mistrust toward politicians, and its driving force is creative youth, people who currently are studying or who graduated from university in the past 10 years. What they are talking about is the European choice, not the victory of this or that political force in Ukraine."

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service correspondent Natalya Sedletska contributed to this report

Claire Bigg

Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 07:06
Protests "are gaining momentum in Ukraine" :-)). Nothing but empty US talk - the same as it was the case in respect to Edward Snowden who was going to be "extradited" to the US "to face the music" there, the same as it was the case in respect to "bombing the Syrian regime" in order to "remove Bashar al-Assad from the presidency".
Edward Snowden got an asylum in Russia and is living a normal life there, Bashar al-Assad continues systematically killing US-backed al-Qaeda terrorists and the Ukrainian govt will never be as crazy as to sign any sort of deals with the European Community of Bankrupt States - why would Yanoukowitsch turn Ukraine into one more Greece, Italy or antoher nation ruined by the EU and why would he be as stupid as to let the Germans make of him another Berlusconi or Khaddafi?
The EU delegates will leave Vilnius just as bankrupt and empty-handed as ever. Hopefully the Chinese lend them enough money to buy a return plane ticket :-)).
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 28, 2013 16:42
ROFL Basahar Al Assad along with his Russian mercinaries and and terrorists Hezbollah and PKK have been "systematically killing "Al-Queda" for the last two years and yet he doesn't control 70% of his own country. secondly, IN light of the fact that the entire Assad dynasty is a russian creation, Im not sure Syria was ever the US's to lose.

Speaking of bankrupt states, those states still have superior living conditions to the Ukraine,Belarus and Armenia. Even to poorest EU nations are far better off then their Russian puppet counter-parts. But hey, maybe Ukraine is better off joining the customs union so that it can be like another Belarus and engage in a trade war with its own partner.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 17:51
Anonymous is saying: "Basahar Al Assad doesn't control 70% of his own country". Bashar controls the USEFUL COASTAL part of the territory of Syria, the one populated by the Alevites, the Christians, the Shia and the Druzes (that are all his constituency), the part on which Russia has its naval base (and Russia is his main supporter, as you mention), while leaving to the US-Saudi backed al-Qaida terrorists the USELESS DESERTIC Eastern part that stricktly speaking is good for nothing from the economic or strategic point of view. So, they can enjoy applying Sharia there :-)).
Anonymous is saying: "Even to poorest EU nations are far better off than" Belarus or Armenia. Aha, having 6 years of economic recession in a row - which is the case of Greece for example - or 25-27 % of the population unemployed - which is the case of Greece and Spain - or having 400.000 families thrown out of their appts to leave on the street - something that has been happening in Spain since 2008 - is defenitely "better" than anything else :-)).
Essentially, a number of EU member states are stuck in a never-ending economic recession which has no perspective of ending EVER as long as those countries are forced by the Germans to remain withing the strong-currency Euro-zone. The only possibility for those countries to start growing economically EVER is to leave this zone and devalute their would-be currencies, which in turn will inevitably lead to them defaulting on their sovereign debts in the short term, again causing severe economic hardship to the population.
So, the EU is in a LOSE-LOSE situation: the choice is between (a) collapsing now and suffering then and (b) suffering now, collapsing afterwards, and then suffering for some time again. Thus getting closer to such a Union of bankrupt losers is SUICIDAL from the economic point of view, which explains why such countries as Ukraine, Armenia or Belarus prefer to stick to a stable and sizeable Russian market. If Moldova and Georgia really enter a free-trade zone with the EU, negative effects on their economies will be felt pretty soon.

by: Jerry from: USA
November 28, 2013 15:30
Why so many young people want to board a sinking ship seems curious to me? Same thing happened here. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 17:55
Exactly, Jerry, you just put your fingure on it: getting closer to the EU is like boarding the Titanic. (Part of) the Ukrainian youth is enthusiastic about this suicidal idea probably due to the dire lack of information on the real state of affairs here in Europe. I regularly have the chance of discovering that those numerous Russian-Ukrainian-Belorussian etc tourists who come to visit Austria have absolutely NO IDEA about the never-ending Euro-crisis and about the societal pain that it causes in many EU member states. Probably it means that the mainstream media is "doing its job" :-)).

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
November 28, 2013 15:33
The students of Ukraine want a secure social and political future. I wish them the best in their European integration.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 17:57
Looking for a "secure social and political future" in the EU is like looking for a radiation-free environment in Fukushima or like looking for oxigen on the Moon, so good luck to those students :-))...

by: Jack from: US
November 28, 2013 16:11
young "Ukrainian students" are eager to fill the ranks of prostitution rings in EU, which is the best they can hope for. Likewise for Moldova and rump republic of Georgia. I wonder why is when a prostitution ring is busted in EU it is always Moldovan and Ukrainian sex slaves who are "freed" ?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 18:03
An interesting VIDEO on what the EU treats people like: UK, Germany, France want to limit free moves within EU for poorer member states -

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2013 18:13
Aha, and here is even the President of the Europarliament Martin Schultz admitting that the EU "underestimated the complexity of the political and economic situation in the Ukraine". And then he goes on to admit that "if we look at the offers from Russia, the Ukraine is getting <from the latter> that short-term economic help that the Europeans CANNOT provide in this form..." ("die Ukraine bekommt, wenn Sie mal die Angebote aus Moskau ansehen, kurzfristige Hilfe, die wir als Europäer in dieser Form nicht leisten können...").
So, basically, the most outspoken Eurocrats stricktly speaking openly admit that what the EU can offer the Ukraine is NO MATCH to what the economic cooperation with Russia can offer, which obviously further explains the decision of the Ukrainian govt to decline signing any deals with the European Community of Bankrupt States.

by: American Troll
November 29, 2013 01:04
Individual Ukrainians willing to lose the booze, reject Orthodox Slav supremacy, respect the notion of rule-of-law, stop beating gays on the orders of bearded old men dressed like Gandalf, and basically stop behaving like Russians-in-training should be welcomed in the West as wayward friends. But that's an impossibly tall order for the country as a whole. Between nostalgic Stalinists in its east and nostalgic fascists in its west, Little Russia makes even Golden Dawn's Greece seem like a civilized, law-abiding, profitable asset to the EU. By rights, Brussels should thank Yanukovich in his prefered manner: an envelope full of nonsequential Western cash.

But this is also a wake-up call to the handful of civilized, sober, decent people in the ex-Soviet core. Gays, Tatars, liberals, non-fanatics, anyone with even a residual trace of a human heart: lose your fantasies of the West rescuing your dying societies and instead rescue yourselves. Emigrate. Emigrate to Europe, to America, to Africa, to Alpha Centauri, to anywhere except Putin's Orthodox Slavic Fourth Reich or its imminent victims of Anschluss like Ukraine. Emigrate before you're "resettled in the East", because that is precisely the trajectory Russia and Ukraine are both taking. Lilliputin is actually an all-too-brief delay in this process; the fool actually thinks he can control the neofascist genie he's uncorked, but his legacy will be a post-civilized society whose worst epithet is "tolerast" (surely the most Russian word since "pogrom"), and the regime after his will make his seem cultured and tolerast by comparison. And seeking safety anywhere else in the CIS has the same naive optimism of Otto Frank thinking his family would be safe from the Nazis next door in Holland. Leave the region (you will not be missed, putting it mildly), allow it to finish its demographic implosion, and by late-century it will yours to reclaim if you wish. But you have no short-term future there as anything but victims.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 29, 2013 11:11
Troll is saying: "Emigrate. Emigrate to Europe, to America, to Africa, to Alpha Centauri..." Thank you for being so outspoken, because forcing people to leave their country by destroying their domestic industry WAS exactly the purpose of the proposed Association Agreement with the EU. But the people of Ukraine are not stupid, you know: why would they open up their borders to German products and destroy their industry by means of free trade? And this is why the deal was REJECTED - congratulations, Ukraine, you will NOT become another Germany colony!
In Response

by: American Troll
November 29, 2013 23:08
Just to clarify... You actively prefer if Muslims, gays, liberals, non-Slavs, non-Orthodox Christians, and all other non-Herrenvolk remain in the Russreich? May I ask why?
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 02, 2013 13:38
Stricktly speaking, I personally do not happen to give a damn as to where "Muslims, gays, liberals, non-Slavs, non-Orthodox Christians, and all other non-Herrenvolk remain" - as far as I am concerned, they may remain whereever they please.
But as the far as the identification of an inevitable result of the failed free-trade deal between the EU and the UA is concerned, I agree with you: the result of such a deal would be the destruction of the Ukrainian economy with the consequent forced outflow of population from this country that will be caused by reduced levels of economic activity and higher levels of unemployment.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 29, 2013 09:36
And finally today (Friday) the Association Agreement became what it was always going to be: a FLOP of the year. No, guys, the people of Ukraine are not as stupid as to volutarily surrender their SOVEREIGNTY and become one more German colony, like Greece, Portugal or Spain. Congratulations to the people of Ukraine!

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 29, 2013 18:34
VIDEO: CrossTalk: Winning Ukraine? -

by: Andrey from: Ukraine
December 02, 2013 02:46
Hello everyone. Thank you very much, announced a fundraiser for the protesters in the square in Ukraine. Do you need money for medicines, clothing, food and more. Thank you for your help.

Donations accepted on account paypal ""

PS Sorry for machine translation
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 02, 2013 13:38
Aha, just charge my credit card :-))

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