Ukraine's Political Violence Spurred by Cultural Divide
NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY

Ukraine's Political Violence Spurred by Cultural Divide


Nicolai Petro: Violence persists between opposition and security forces, as opponents use culture to divide strongly nationalistic Ukrainian groups and factions identifying with Russia -   October 3, 14
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



The Real News is a vital answer to The New York Times, the house organ of the oligarchs. - Al Salzman
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

Bio

Nicolai N. Petro is professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island. During the collapse of the Soviet Union he served as special assistant for policy in the U.S. State Department. He has published widely on Russian and international politics, and is currently in Ukraine on a Fulbright research fellowship. His web site iswww.npetro.net.

The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the Fulbright program or the U.S. Department of State.

Transcript

Ukraine's Political Violence Spurred by Cultural DivideJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

On Tuesday, several protesters in Ukraine died in clashes with security forces in the capital of Kiev. This came after negotiations broke down between opposition leaders and the government.

The uprisings in Ukraine began in November after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal that would forge closer economic ties with the E.U.

Now joining us to discuss all this is Nicolai Petro. Nicolai is a professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island. He has been in the Ukraine since August as a visiting scholar and has observed the current crisis firsthand.

Thank you for joining us, Nicolai.

NICOLAI PETRO, PROF. POLITICS, URI (VISITING SCHOLAR IN UKRAINE): Good evening.

DESVARIEUX: So, Nicolai, first off, just break down for us who these groups are. Who's actually protesting? And what are they demanding?

PETRO: It's a variety of individuals and groups. There are the political opposition, that is to say, the representatives of three major political parties that are the united opposition. And then there are sundry individuals who occasionally join the protests from Kiev, residents in the city. That's when the protests get largest in terms of numbers. And increasingly there seem to be a group of radical nationalists who seek to take the fight, as they see it, for a national revolution directly to the parliament and to the police.

They each want different things. Some demand just new elections--that's new elections for Parliament and new elections of the president. Others demand a new constitution, or, rather, a restoration of the constitution of 2004. And the third group, the last group I was talking about, want a new order for the country that will allow them to conduct a cleansing of the country that will allow a national rebirth.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. I want to talk about your recent article titled "Ukraine's Culture War". You say that Ukrainian cultural identity and "… Russian culture has been a stumbling block to civic cooperation and national unity." Can you please explain how cultural issues have been a driving element, really, in this months-long political struggle that's happening in the country?

PETRO: Well, underlying all of the various issues are two fundamentally different understandings of Ukrainian identity and Ukrainian history.

For one group, primarily located in the far western provinces, it is a matter of restoring Ukrainian identity as one that is distinct from and often anti-Russian, against Russian influence. So they insist on things like only speaking Ukrainian, mandating the use of Ukrainian throughout the country, and having a particular vision of Ukrainian history which emphasizes what they call the liberation struggle during World War II, in which certain Ukrainian groups fought alongside the Nazis.

In the east, they have a very different conception of Ukrainian identity, one that has much closer ties with Russia, is comfortable with those historical ties, with the use of the language, and they really see World War II as a national struggle against foreign invaders, namely, the Nazis. So it goes back at least that far, and that's one of the crucial issues. But it could even--there are even precedents to that in earlier periods of history.

DESVARIEUX: Where do the ruling elites self-identify?

PETRO: Well, they are split along the same lines. So when you see someone on television here who is a national figure speaking in Ukrainian, one inevitably gets the sense that they are speaking to their constituents, Ukrainian-speaking constituency, which is largely in the western segments of the country. When you see their opponents, they're speaking Russian, and they likewise are talking to their constituencies, which are in the eastern half and the southern portion of the country. So they don't literally--they try to avoid speaking the same language in a literal sense.

DESVARIEUX: Most of the coverage that's coming out of mass media here when we talk about Ukraine is really revolved around whether or not the country will move closer to Russia or the E.U. Do you think Ukrainians sort of face this either/or choice?

PETRO: I don't think it is an either/or choice. I think if the E.U. and Russia stopped trying to pull Ukraine one way or the other and could actually sit down and agree that there's a common European heritage involved, then Ukraine would very easily fit into that heritage, because it is indeed split in its own identity.

But, unfortunately, we have a situation where the E.U. in particular seems to be pursuing a policy of pulling the Ukraine out of Russia's orbit, which basically leaves roughly 60 percent of the country--trying to cut it off, those Russian-speaking portions, from its emotional, cultural, and historical ties with its closest neighbor.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Nicolai Petro, thank you so much for joining us.

PETRO: Thank you.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

Comments


Latest Stories


First Canadian Officer Convicted for Mass Arrests at 2010 G-20 Toronto Summit
What Would Happen to the Eurozone if Greece Leaves?
Katrina Victims Were Forced into Exile
National Day of Action Pushes Democratic Senators to Support Iran Deal
International Law and "The Responsibility to Protect" - Vijay Prashad on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
The Sky Is Not Falling? China's Stock Market Impact
Why is Saudi Arabia Now Supporting the Iran Deal?
The PLO's "Game of Musical Chairs"
GRITtv with Laura Flanders: New Orleans and the Economics of Recovery
Chelsea Manning, the Nuremberg Charter and Refusing to Collaborate with War Crimes - Vijay Prashad on Reality Asserts Itself (3/4)
A Fire In My Soul
Smoke and Mirrors of Corporate Buybacks Behind the Market Crash
Days of Revolt: State Violence and Counter Violence
Computer Voting and Stealing Democracy
Questioning the Underlying Structures of Property and Power is "Off the Table" - Vijay Prashad on Reality Asserts Itself (2/4)
AIPAC Spending Millions to Defeat Iran Deal, But Efforts Are Falling Flat
Sanders: Great White Hope or Hype?
Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
Decades of Relentless Austerity in Canada Could Defeat the Conservatives
Chicago Parents Launch Hunger-Strike for Community Input in School's Future
Athlete Turned Artist & Movement for Black Lives Conference
Marx and Tolstoy Helped Me See the Limits of Liberalism - Vijay Prashad on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
Greek Left Platform Creates New Popular Unity Party
Macedonian Police Clash With Refugees at Greek Border
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tenders His Resignation
Former IAEA Inspector: Iranian "Self-Inspection" Won't Undermine Deal
ACLU: Illegal Pocomoke Meeting Should Void Chief's Firing
Typhoid Outbreak Latest Catastrophe for Palestinians in Besieged Yarmouk Refugee Camp
Clinton Takes Soft Swipe at "Shortermism"
The Dragon Has Come! George Jackson: A Video Mixtape

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting