Looking at maps and election results, being aware of geography, and taking a look at history allow us to capture multiple political and identity shades in any given country. This is what should have been done when analyzing recent developments in Ukraine since the start of Euromaidan protests, but I feel it has not been the case. Had that been done, a better understanding of the country’s many political and identity accents would have arisen, the west-east division oversimplification could have been avoided… and stupor as regards to events in Crimea might be lower.
Simplifying divisions… For weeks , if not months or even years, we have been hammered by the supposed fundamental division that Ukraine suffers: a Russian-speaking, Russophile eastern half, and a Ukrainian-speaker, pro-European (it would be more accurate to say “pro- EU”) western half. But that is a botched simplification: there is no clear boundary between one section and the other, however much maps be painted in two opposing, solid colors (one for the pro-European side, where Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko used to win elections during the 2000s, and another one for the pro-Russian side, where ousted President Viktor Yanukovych had the most votes). Those maps omit that, in many regions, the victory of either candidate could depend on 10 or 15 percentage points , not 40 or 50. Some examples do not fit the west-east clear cut divide theory: in regions where most people have Ukrainian as their mother tongue, Yanukovych was the winner; in regions located just on the border with Russia, Tymoshenko was the most voted candidate; and, vice versa, Ukrainian nationalist candidates did not enjoy great results in Transcarpathia, even though that region lies in westernmost Ukraine. Continue reading