With Russia offering $10 billion in funds to the troubled nation this morning, and Ukrainian capital markets in disarray over the anti-anti-Europe protests and ongoing riots, Stefan Karlsson offers an alternative take on the "people vs dictator" meme - especially in light of the fact that Yanuckovich is supported by a large part of the population (specifically in the eastern and southern parts of the country).
Submitted by Stefan Karlsson of Stefan Karlsson's blog,
Ukraine, particularly the capital Kiev, continues to be tormented with clashes between protesters and the police.
These protests started after Ukraine's government decided to reject an agreement with the EU and instead seek closer ties with Russia.
In most Western media outlets, this is portrayed as a struggle between the people and a dictator allied with Vladimir Putin. However, what they forget is that while, President Yanukovich somewhat authoritarian, he is supported by a large part of the population.
More specifically, Yanukovich is very popular in the eastern and southern parts of the country, but very unpopular in the western and north central parts of Ukraine. This geographic divide is illustrated by this map showing his support in different parts of Ukraine (for a larger version of the image click on it) in the latest presidential election.
Yanukovich is supported by a majority in blue areas, and the darker the blue color is the larger the majority is while his opponent was supported by a majority in yellow and red areas, with the strongest majority being in the dark red areas.
The pro-Yanukovich areas are essentially the pro-Russian parts of Ukraine. Here the Russian language is largely prevalent with a significant part of the population considered to be "ethnic Russian". These regions also have strong trade ties with Russia.
The anti-Yanukovich areas are thus more or less anti-Russian. They speak only the Ukrainan language and have little or no ties with Russia-and wants to keep it that way,
If Yanukovich prevails, the pro-Russian parts of Ukraine will be pleased and the anti-Russian will feel oppressed. If the protesters wins, the anti-Russian parts will be pleased and the pro-Russian parts will feel oppressed.
The only sensible solution for this dilemma is to divide Ukraine. The western and north central parts will then be able to create a Western oriented state which is linguistically entirely Ukrainian while the southern and eastern parts can either merge with Russia or create a linguistically Russian state allied with Russia.
This solution isn't entirely unproblematic as there are areas which are themselves divided between anti- and pro-Russian supporters and as many Ukrainian nationalists insists that the country shouldn't be divided. But the current structure which will leave one half of the country feeling oppressed by the other half will continue to be a disaster.
Of course, the real question is... where are the natural resources?