Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is Ukraine divided?

By Yegor Grygorenko (independent observer, Kiev) 

One of the old beaten truths on the ongoing Ukrainian crisis is that it is, among other things, a clash of cultures, languages and ethnicities. The proponents of this view say that Ukraine is deeply and visibly divided into the predominantly Ukrainian speaking West that tends to identify itself with Europe and the Russian speaking East that culturally and politically leans to Russia. The recent protests and events that followed are then portrayed as just another chapter in the long lasting dispute between the two closely related but distinct ethnical groups on where their country should go.
Well respected media and honorable commentators illustrate this view with the colorful maps of Ukraine that purportedly establish correlation between the native language of a particular region and its electoral preferences. The whole crisis then boils down to a handful of simple dichotomies: East versus West, Russian speakers versus Ukrainian speakers, Greek Orthodox versus Greek Catholics and so on. An unbiased observer cannot resist a tempting question: should not those two different Ukraines just part their ways once and for all?