Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Tuesday 28 January 2014

Via Sullivan, Washington Post staffer Max Fisher explains how Ukraine's divisions are about more than one politician:

Ukrainian is the majority and official language of Ukraine. But, as a legacy of of the country's subjugation by Russia, many Ukrainians speak Russian, which is the native language for about one-third of the population. The Russian speakers are clustered in the south and east. A significant chunk of them are ethnic Russian, as well. In some regions, more than three-quarters of the population speaks Russian as their primary language.

Heavily Russian-speaking regions can tend to be more sympathetic (or at least less hostile) to policies that bring their country closer to Russia, as Yanukovych has been doing. But the Ukrainian-speaking regions have historically sought a Ukrainian national identity that is less Russia-facing and more European. So this is about politics, yes, but it's also about identity, about the question of what it means to be Ukrainian.

I visited Kyiv (Kiev) in 2009, a few months before Yanukovich's return to power. My host and I didn't talk about politics much, but she did show me where the protests that unseated him in 2004 had happened.

Kyiv has roughly equal populations of Ukrainian and Russian speakers, being the capital and all, though it's pretty firmly within the Ukrainian-speaking part of the country. I got the sense, from the few people I talked to, that Russia made everyone a little nervous. But it was spring, the weather was perfect, and I was really only there to see things like this:

My Ukrainian friends here and in Europe are scared for their country. Remember, it's only been independent for 23 years, after centuries of subjugation by others. (Sound familiar?) We'll see. There are a lot of angry people there right now.

Tuesday 28 January 2014 11:37:33 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | World#
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