Very pleased to hear of the demonstrations in Kiev. One thing that always impressed me about former Communist/Eastern/New Europe {as opposed to glazed over, apathetic ABBA- and Boney M-listening Western/Old} is the belief in “people power” — that change from the bottom up is still possible. Count me among those Western Europeans {or Westerners in general} who remain convinced that there is no such thing, and that our systems will remain mired in lethargy for eternity. We {or some of those among us} were not surprised by what has happened in Ukraine over the past month at all. But what is surprising is the tenacity of these EU-friendly parts of Ukraine, these demonstrators who simply do not give up. I do not know what their great ambition is — the common currency, Schengen? — but they are banging at the gates, crying to be let out of post-Soviet limbo land. They want a future. Don’t we all?

13 thoughts on “ukraine/brain”

  1. Why is Ukraine different from , let's say Greece or Ireland. Where political demonstrations take place on a daily basis. It's all about the economy, money in wider meaning… It's not about the ideals or brighter future or other hippie nonsenss. In Ukraine they blame the oligarchs, in Ireland the multinationals, in Greece the Germans. It's the same story all over. If millions of middle class Americans would be put on the breadline, I'm pretty sure they'll take the streets as well.


  2. But I agree with you, Marko, that Justin here draws to sharp a distinction between Ā“New and Old EuropeĀ“. In France or Spain for example, it is not so difficult to organize mass demonstrations if you can get people to support you cause. In Estonia, on the other hand, I havenĀ“t really noticed that people have the idea Ā“that change from the bottom up is still possibleĀ“. Or maybe that is because they think there isnĀ“t so much that should be changed, or they just wait peacefully until the next elections. šŸ™‚
    In Estonia it seems to me, the dominant idea about democracy is that you vote once every four years, and in between you shut op, you just undergo the decisions of the government until the next elections. ThereĀ“s not much of a dialogue in the meantime. I could be wrong.


  3. Ukraine is a true post-Soviet state. France and Greece have weathered centuries of existence, multitudes of external challenges (from the English, from the Turks, etc.). There is, arguably, no *existential* threat to France or Greece today, and so protests within those countries may shake society, but they do not shake its foundations.

    The Baltic Countries, and I am being sincere in this, are not true post-Soviet states. They were foreign states that were annexed 20+ years AFTER the October Revolution. They were annexed AS states. While some extremely short-lived independent countries sprang up after the Revolution, most were brought back under Moscow's orbit within a few years.

    There was no great war that determined the boundaries or identity of the Ukrainian state. It was decided upon by the Communist leadership. Its core identity is therefore forever linked to its relationship with Moscow. The reason that Yanukovich can win an election, is that large parts of “Ukraine” are more or less “Russia.” The resistance to his politics comes strongly from the western, “Ukrainian” part of Ukraine, which is an interesting concept if you think about it {compare, the French part of France, the Greek part of Greece}.

    If Ukraine was to adopt a permanent Euro-Atlantic orientation, it would mean a great departure from the status quo of the past 22 years.


  4. I have read a book about the genesis of contemporary Ukraine's national identity (or rather identies) and it is extremely confusing but very interesting.
    An important reason why the western part of Ukraine is more pro-European and anti-Russian is because it was was only annexed at the start of WW II , just like the Baltic states. Before it was a part of Poland, where there were more opportunities for Ukrainian nationalism (although the Polish state, which was only re-established as an independent country in 1918, tried to suppress the Ukrainian nationalist movement).
    You are also right about France and Greece (although Greece not so long ago had a brutal dictatorship and this issue still polarises society there), but anyway, your post was about Old versus New Europe, and there's also no 'existential' threath to most of the 'New' European states.


  5. Interesting observation, Temetsa. In Edinburgh, we used to have a local MP popping by every once in a while for tea and biscuits. To discuss a wide range of issues from local bus routes, to gay rights, to the situation in Middle East. In Viljandi, however, no one knocked on our door just yet… Just some primitive leaflets in the post, about topics no one really gives a shit about. Hmm, since I'm not in politics myself, that raises one hell of a question. How do they legitimate they're decisions?


  6. Be aware if you deny your Russian speakers citizenship then they will make the area where they live independent of you, they will then give themselves citizenship in their new country.
    You have been warned


  7. Treat all those in your lands as equal whatever language they speak, they are your brothers and sisters, do not discriminate. If your brother is poor do things in your planning to make him equal to you if he is uneducated educate him. This way parts of your country will not go in different ways and will remain a whole.


  8. You imagine yourself Western Europeans, then think like them, in a democratic fashion, no not Defranchise large parts of your population it will come back to haunt you.


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