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Ukrainian nationalism since the outbreak of Euromaidan


Journal abstract

The article traces the evolution of Ukrainian nationalism from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014 under the influence of mass protests against the antidemocratic regime of President Yanukovych (Euromaidan) and Russia’s intervention into Crimea and Donbas. The term “nationalism” is used in the article in a broad sense encompassing elite ideology and politics as well as mass feelings and identities. The analysis of elite “nationalism” is based on a close reading of Facebook posts and other texts of the protest activists, and mass discourse is reconstructed with the help of sociological surveys. The author argues that democratic protest against the Yanukovych regime included a nationalistic element articulated as Ukrainian liberation from Russian dictate. He also shows that the transition from peaceful to violent protest was accompanied by an appropriation of the tradition of armed nationalist resistance to the Soviet occupation of Ukraine after World War II. This appropriation, however, was not limited exclusively to ethnic Ukrainians – it reflected and reinforced a rejection of the Soviet mythology of collaborationism of Ukrainian nationalists of the past with the Nazis. At the same time it made evident the deeply inclusive nature of modern Ukrainian anti-imperial nationalism, the most obvious proof of which is the support it enjoys among Ukrainian Jews or even among Jews who have preserved their ties to the country since leaving Ukraine. Russian aggression further contributed to the rise of inclusivity of Ukrainian nationalism, which now embraces many Russian and Russian-speaking citizens. Being alienated from Russia as a state and even as a people by Russia’s aggressive politics, these citizens nevertheless do not exhibit a similar alienation from the Russian language. Hence the new border between Ukrainians and Russians is political rather than linguistic. In the author’s view, this fact confirms the inclusive nature of Ukrainian identity and the nationalism that contributes to its formation.

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