Volodymyr Ishchenko is a sociologist studying social protests in Ukraine. He is the deputy director of the Center for Social and Labor Research, a member of the editorial board of Commons: Journal for Social Criticism and the LeftEast web-magazine, and a lecturer at the Department of Sociology at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. His is the author of the report The Ukrainian Left During and After the Maidan Protests.
Music: Public Enemy, “Welcome to the Terrordome,” Fear of a Black Planet, 1990.
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- By Sean — 4 years ago
In my post on Ukraine’s refugees, I anticipated some questioning about the numbers of Ukrainians fleeing to Russia. I cited a MChS estimate of 30,000. It’s hard to pin down just how many people have packed up whatever they could and crossed the border. The Russians have presented various figures. Valentina Matvienko, Russia’s Federal Council speaker, gave an obviously exaggerated number of 500,000 refugees inside Russia! Another news report states that 80,000 have arrived in Rostov province in the last two weeks! Last week Russia’s migration service gave a figure of 80,000.I’ve also read that there are only 25,000 refugees inside Russia. These widely divergent figures are not surprising. After all, presenting the crisis in Ukraine as a humanitarian disaster is in Russia’s interest, as it’s in the interest of Kyiv and its supporters to low ball the numbers to Russia but inflate the number of refugees from Crimea. How much are the Russian figures an exaggeration? Matvinenko figure is preposterous, of course. But the Russian official figure of 80,000 turns out to be closer to the UNHCR’s count.
According to the UNHCR press release:
In Ukraine, UNHCR is seeing a rise in displacement. We now estimate that 54,400 people are internally displaced – 12,000 from Crimea and the rest from the Eastern region. Over the past week, the number of internally displaced increased by over 16,400.
Increases are also being seen in the numbers of Ukrainians in Russia and other countries, although so far only a relatively small number have applied for refugee status. Since the start of the year around 110,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Russia, and 750 have requested asylum in Poland, Belarus, Czech Republic and Romania. Of those in Russia only 9,600 have requested asylum. Most people are seeking other forms of legal stay, often we are told because of concerns about complications or reprisals in case of return to Ukraine.
Arrivals of the past few days are mainly clustered in Rostov-On-Don (12,900 people, including 5,000 children) and Byransk (6,500 people). In Rostov, people are being accommodated in public buildings and some tented camps. In Bryansk the majority are staying with relatives and friends. We have also seen unconfirmed reports of other recent arrivals from the east of Ukraine to Crimea.
110,000! I was taken aback by that number. Granted the vast majority of these people aren’t in refugee camps, but are staying with friends and relatives in Russia. Ukraine’s refugee crisis, both inside Ukraine and Russia is masked by the personal ties many Ukrainian citizens within and outside the country. Nevertheless, the UNHCR’s estimates illustrates that the refugee crisis is real and it’s getting worse.
- By Sean — 11 years ago
A street brawl broke out near Slavyanskaya Ploshchad in Moscow on Friday night when Russian nationalist youth “armed with metal poles and broken bottles” attacked Caucasians reports the Moscow Times. One Armenian youth was hospitalized with stab wounds and 42 persons were arrested. Estimates suggest that 50 Russian nationalists, some of which are members of Alexandr Belov’s Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) participated in the fight. In a statement Belov denied that DPNI did not have any kind of relations with organizers of the brawl. Further, Belov was quoted in the Moscow Times that DPNI members were there “peacefully guarding Moscow from gay prostitutes when groups of people from the Caucasus approached and provoked a reaction.”
In a statement to the press, Yuri Luzhkov, who Putin recently renominated as mayor of Moscow, said “Any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down in our capital, on the basis of the Constitution … and on the basis of the law.”
Belov cracked back at Luzhkov in the Associated Press, saying that “[he] has been sitting in his chair too long. He has lost control of the city.”Tags: Movement Against Illegal Immigration|immigration|human rights|Putin|Russia|democracy|nationalism|Alexander Belov
- By Sean — 5 years ago
Guest post by William Risch
Last week January 1 marked more than the start of a new year in Ukraine. It marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, onetime leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). About 15,000 people in Kyiv took part in a torch-lit demonstration led by the far right-wing Freedom (Svoboda) Party. Similar demonstrations happened in provincial cities.
Bandera (1909-59) is a polarizing figure in Ukraine. For Ukrainians from central, eastern, and southern Ukraine, he represents collaboration with the Nazis during World War II and the mass murder of Soviet civilians. Bandera’s OUN fraction had collaborated with Nazi Germany before World War II, and on June 30, 1941, it tried to set up an independent Ukrainian state under Nazi protection in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Bandera’s subsequent arrest and imprisonment in the Saxenhausen concentration camp did little to dispel this image of Bandera and the “Banderites.” The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), organized by Bandera’s followers, was responsible for killing 40,000 – 60,000 Poles in the Volhynia Region in 1943. Early UPA recruits included former members of police battalions involved in the mass killing of the region’s Jews.
However, for Ukrainians from the western regions annexed by the Soviet Union in World War II – Western Ukraine – the OUN and the UPA were the only organized political resistance to Soviet rule after the Soviets decapitated their prewar Ukrainian political elite. The UPA carried out guerrilla warfare that lasted until as late as 1950. Yet even here, local Ukrainians suspected of collaborating with the Soviets wound up being the main victims of “Banderite” violence.
As noted by political scientist Andreas Umland, the Svoboda Party, whose origins are in Lviv, has come to play a major role in the Euromaidan protest events, despite being politically marginal (enjoying only 3-5 percent support nationwide). OUN slogans, such as “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Glory to the heroes!,” have become standard chants at Kyiv Euromaidan events. Will the ghost of Svoboda’s hero, Bandera, fragment opposition to the Yanukovych regime? Labeling opponents “Banderites” had been an effective means of isolating national dissent in Soviet Ukraine and dividing opponents of the regime in independent Ukraine.
So far, Euromaidan participants themselves are speaking out. One Kyivan, Andrey Plakhonin, an early participant in Euromaidan protests, on January 2 posted news on Facebook that he and at least four other people went out to protest Svoboda’s torch-lit procession. “Don’t burn Ukraine instead of Mezhyhir’ia!” read Plakhonin’s poster, referring to Yanukovych’s illegally acquired estate. A friend of mine on Facebook on the eve of the torch-lit procession passed on a joke that all of these demonstrators should be lured into “Banderite” hideouts on the Maidan and locked up there until the Revolution is over. Even one of the most adamant defenders of Bandera, historian Volodymyr Viatrovych, expressed reservations about Svoboda’s commemoration plans. Bandera’s ghost may wind up enlivening, rather than paralyzing, the Euromaidan protest movement.