What you need to know:
✓ Yuriy Yakimenko began his study about Ukrainian identity after the Orange Revolution
✓ He witnessed several changes in the population’s conception of national identity.
✓ The question became even more important with the beginning of the war and the study had to take into account different people goals.
✓ “Patriotism depends on civic understanding.”
Yuriy Yakimenko is the Director of political programs at Razumkov Center. He has been researching the question of Ukrainian identity, which has gained importance since 2013 with the beginning on the Maidan revolution and the war in Ukraine. He began his study in 2005, right after the Orange Revolution. From there to now, people’s conception of Ukrainian identity has undergone several changes, what he explains through a series of polls conducted on the Ukrainian population.
“With participation in the conflict, people show more patriotism,” he explains. Indeed, the actual conflict is raising many questions about the topic, concerning Ukrainian aspirations : political, with the Maidan Revolution; and geopolitical, with their sense of belonging to Europe and to the EU and NATO. The study also takes into account the goals of people from the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, because they are unique parts of the population. Since 2014, they claim their particular status. It allows to keep a very interesting track record of their intentions.
The study also shows how the revolution affected traditional components of national identity such as language and culture. For Yuriy Yakimenko, Ukrainian identity depends more ‘’on civic understanding’’ than on those factors. Ultimately, in a country divided such as Ukraine, he tries to define national identity through the way people see their homeland and their relation with it.
Hromadske’s Josh Kovensky spoke to Yuriy Yakimenko, Director of Political Programs at the Razumkov Center on June 16th, 2016 in Kyiv.