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Signs in Ukraine Point to Democratic Revolution

Released: 25-Feb-2014 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Indiana University
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Is this a revolution going on in Ukraine? And if so, is that a good thing? Those are the questions that come to mind for Padraic Kenney, professor of history and director of the Russian and East European Institute at IU Bloomington.

"All signs are that Ukraine is in fact undergoing a democratic revolution," he said. "The demands of protesters have changed over the last three months but have included political and economic change in line with what Ukrainians believe a closer integration with Europe would give them. Ethnic hatred and extreme populism have remained on the margins. Attempts by leading politicians to co-opt the occupied Maidan have failed.

"And just as in the revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, the leadership has left peacefully," said Kenney, who has written extensively about the uprisings in Eastern Europe and elsewhere in those years and who writes about Ukraine for the blog of a political weekly in Poland.

But the question of whether the revolution has a good outcome may take time to answer, he said.

"The next few months will be crucial, as Ukrainians try for the third time in 25 years to build democracy," Kenney said. "Are they more prepared than in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapsed, or in 2004, the time of the Orange Revolution? Or will the temptations of extreme nationalism and the frustration of ongoing economic hardship derail change again?"

Kenney may be reached at pjkenney@indiana.edu or 812-855-1923. For insights from other Indiana University experts, see this media tip sheet from IU News.

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