Ukraine: The Politics of Protest

The decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to back out of a high profile deal with the European Union immediately prior to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, has prompted wide-scale pro-European Union protests in Kiev, as well as calls for Yanukovych’s resignation. The strong public reaction to Ukraine’s shift away from Europe has elicited comparisons to the 2004 Orange Revolution, and indicates the extent of political unrest in the former Soviet country. Protests and a violent Saturday night crackdown have highlighted the power struggle between the current political leadership and powerful opposing interest groups. These protests run the risk of leading to an ungovernable Ukraine, prolonged instability, and potential conflict.

Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson and Senior Fellow Adrian Karatnycky discussed on a conference call for press the implications of the protests on Ukraine’s economy and political stability and the role of the transatlantic community in pressing for true democratic reform and possible further European Union association.

Related Experts: Adrian Karatnycky, Ian Brzezinski, and Damon Wilson