Panelists Weigh Ukraine’s Political Crisis, Uncertain Future

Why is Kyiv Burning?
Olga Onuch of the Ukrainian Research Institute speaks at "Why is Kyiv Burning? The Turn to Violence in Ukraine’s Protest Movement and Its Political and Geostrategic Implications" on Jan 24. Onuch argued that "the EuroMaidan... is a significant departure of social activism in Ukraine" using a timeline of the EuroMaidan and the various protest cycles. She ensured, "I can not stress this enough".

Though the protests in Ukraine have waned over the past few days, Harvard scholars said during a panel on Monday that the country still has some work to be done in order to repair its democracy.

“The activists need to keep pushing, and the new government shouldn’t go on a Miss World tour first either,” Olga Onuch, a fellow at the Ukrainian Research Center, said.

The title of the event, “Why Is Kyiv Burning? The Turn to Violence in Ukraine’s Protest Movement and Its Political and Geostrategic Implications,” underwent three name changes as the crisis in Ukraine fluctuated, according to Lubomyr Hajda, the associate director of the Ukrainian Research Center.

However, Hajda added that even by the time of the seminar the title was still not an accurate reflection of rapidly-changing crisis.

Political turmoil has raged in the country since now former President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign the country’s association agreement with the European Union. Currently, their parliament has deposed the president, and a transitional government is being formed.

In addition to Onuch and Hajda, the seminar also included discussion from Timothy J. Colton, the chair of the government department and a scholar of Russian politics, Jaroslaw M. Domanski, a fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Nadiya V. Kravets, a fellow at the Ukrainian Research Institute.

Many of the panelists focused on dispelling myths about the crisis that they said were propagated in Western media. Onuch, who conducted numerous interviews and polls during the protests, said statistics showed that the protesting population was not made up of mostly young people from western regions of the country, contrary to what much of the mass media reported.

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