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One Year After Ukraine’s Maidan: No Extremists Here

A common narrative propagated by Russia is that it is fighting a scourge of Ukrainian fascists in Ukraine.  It is unclear precisely how Russia defines these fascists, however, primarily they are far-right nationalists who threaten others living in the country.  Among other stories, Russian television reported that the fascists crucified a boy in Sloviansk, (which has yet to be in any way substantiated).  Russia and its militants in eastern Ukraine warn that they are preventing the annihilation of Russian-speakers in Ukraine. 

Voters get their ballots during the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Since the start of the Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan one year ago, Ukrainians have undergone a tumultuous and harrowing period; from the shock of their own government beating students and using snipers against them to Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine.  According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 Ukrainain civilians and soldiers have been killed. 

It is difficult to predict how a people would react to such traumatic events, however, elections could be viewed as a barometer of public sentiment.  In this way then, the October 26 parliamentary elections, which IRI observed, illustrate that despite the tremendously difficult circumstances of the last year, the vast majority of Ukrainians do not support extremism in any manifestation.  Far-right parties such as the Right Sector and others portrayed by Russia as the majority of Ukrainians, received less than two percent of the vote.  

In addition, for almost one hundred years, Ukraine’s parliament had included the Communist party.  In October, the Communist far left was not able to cross the five percent threshold.  In contrast, Ukrainians voted for centrist and moderate parties represented by the top three winning parties of; the People’s Front (led by the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk), the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko (the Presidemt’s party) and Samopomich, a small grassroots party of mainly civic activists.  The governing coalition, currently being formed contains five parties with the priority of NATO membership.

Ukrainians have endured unspeakable horrors in the past year.  Instead of bring radicalized by these events, they chose moderate options.  Illustrating a maturity of the average Ukrainain voter, Ukrainians rejected both extremes of the political spectrum; shutting out the far left and the far right.  The president and new parliament must now reciprocate by implementing key reforms necessary to further move Ukraine along its part of European integration.  Contrary to Russian propaganda, this is what the Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity was about, making Ukraine a truly democratic county.

Posted by

Motria Chaban

Program Officer, Eurasia Division