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The Maidan Uprising, Separatism and Foreign Intervention

Ukraine’s complex transition

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Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Igor Lyubashenko

The current crisis in Ukraine has revealed a striking lack of background knowledge about Ukraine’s history and politics among West European politicians, journalists, intellectuals and even many academics. In this book, experts from Poland, Ukraine, the US, Russia and Western Europe fill the gap between an omnipresent and easily available narrative about Russia and a scarce, scattered knowledge about Ukraine. They show what history and political science can offer for a better understanding of the crisis and provide insights, which are based on reliable Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Turkish sources and confidential interviews with key actors and advisors. Rather than offering easy answers, the authors present facts and knowledge, which enables the reader to make up his own informed opinion.
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Euromaidan: From the students’ protest to mass uprising

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Causes of the protest

In order to understand the causes of an unprecedented social protest that shook Ukraine in November 2013-February 2014, known as Euromaidan, it is important to take a look at the wider social context, and precisely the problems that drive social protests in contemporary Ukraine.

The Orange Revolution of 2004 had brought about a shift of the political elite in Ukraine, but failed to improve the functioning of the political system in general (see Chapter 2). Ukrainians generally remained pessimistic about developments in the country, with a short exception during the first half of 2005, when more than 50% of respondents believed the country was heading in the right direction (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Ukrainians’ assessment of developments in the country

Source: Razumkov Centre, data of a series of opinion polls conducted between April 2004 and December 2013 (http://razumkov.org.ua/ukr/poll.php?poll_id=66).

This pessimism was additionally reinforced by the general conviction that an ordinary person has no influence on what is happening in the country. It ← 61 | 62 → is noteworthy that this perception of reality remained more or less stable; one cannot point towards any period of relative social optimism (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Ukrainians’ perception of having influence over developments in the country

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