But these ethnic considerations wouldn’t be as significant if there were not a social divide between the Maidan and the south east, Kazarin argues. If those backing the Maidan would benefit from an opening to Europe, those in the south east with its aging industry almost certainly would be among the losers by being cut off from the Russian market and forced to compete with European one.
“No one has told the south east how it is supposed to live after the victory of the Maidan and the shift of the country toward the European Union,” the commentator continues. Nor has anyone said how will that region’s industries survive and how will its people survive. Certainly no one among the leaders of the Maidan has done so.
And that is the problem: “No one is speaking with [the south east] – except however strange it may seem the Party of the Regions,” whose leaders like President Viktor Yanukovich utter “the important words: ‘We are concerned about you.’”
It is not the case that the south east is condemned to follow Yanukovich’s party, Kazarin says. It is that no one else is addressing the concerns of the people there. “There is a demand [for such concen] but there are no proposals.” And there aren’t any “because no one in the opposition wants to understand the reality in which this part of Ukraine exists.”
Those in the Maidan and its supporters are younger, more educated, and less dependent on the state budget. They want the opportunities that change will bring: they are not afraid of what those changes will do to the. But those in the south east are afraid because they see that change will not, at least immediately, work to their benefit.
“Instead of cursing the southeast,” Kazarin suggests, those in the Maidan should be “trying to offer answers” to the questions of the residents of the south east. The main one of these is “What will happen with us?” If the Maidan offers only the program that works for its supporters, it will not succeed in winning them over.
Worse, Kazarin says, the Maidan “will be condemned to a repetition of the situation of the last 20 years.”