Challenges and Hopes
Edited By Viktor Stepanenko and Yaroslav Pylynskyi
Ukraine’s Third Attempt
Shaking off the shackles in post-Soviet countries has proved extremely troublesome. Responding to the failures of societies in the former Soviet Union has presented challenges that few, apart from the Baltic States and Georgia, have had the courage to address head-on. Ukraine has been struggling to break free from the chains of colonial subjugation since independence. For many Westerners, especially those increasingly skeptical of the EU, the mere fact that thousands of young Ukrainians took to the streets in the bitter winter of 2013 to defend an agreement with the EU that did not promise any immediate gains may look somewhat incongruous. Timothy Snyder, in his New York Review of Books blog,1 put it straight: “Would anyone anywhere in the world be willing to take a truncheon in the head for the sake of a trade agreement with the United States?” Certainly not, and Snyder clearly knew the answer to his rhetorical question: it was not the Agreement per se that mobilized the protesters but their hope for a “normal life in a normal country” which the Agreement had symbolized and envisaged. “If this is a revolution,” he wrote, “it must be one of the most common-sense revolutions in history.”
In November, when the unscrupulous Yanukovych government stole people’s hope for a “normal life,” they felt deceived not solely about this shameless act but about all their lives, with the state of development of their country stuck for 22 years in a grey zone between...
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