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Memories of the Past and Visions of the Future: Remembering the Soviet Era and its End in Ukraine.



While the fall of the Berlin Wall is positively commemorated in the West, the intervening years have shown that the former Soviet Bloc has a more complicated view of its legacy. In post-communist Eastern Europe, the way people remember state socialism is closely intertwined with the manner in which they envision historical justice. Twenty Years After Communism is concerned with the explosion of a politics of memory triggered by the fall of state socialism in Eastern Europe, and it takes a comparative look at the ways that communism and its demise have been commemorated (or not commemorated) by major political actors across the region. The book is built on three premises. The first is that political actors always strive to come to terms with the history of their communities in order to generate a sense of order in their personal and collective lives. Second, new leaders sometimes find it advantageous to mete out justice on the politicians of abolished regimes, and whether and how they do so depends heavily on their interpretation and assessment of the collective past. Finally, remembering the past, particularly collectively, is always a political process, thus the politics of memory and commemoration needs to be studied as an integral part of the establishment of new collective identities and new principles of political legitimacy. Each chapter takes a detailed look at the commemorative ceremony of a different country of the former Soviet Bloc. Collectively the book looks at patterns of extrication from state socialism, patterns of ethnic and class conflict, the strategies of communist successor parties, and the cultural traditions of a given country that influence the way official collective memory is constructed. Twenty Years After Communism develops a new analytical and explanatory framework that helps readers to understand the utility of historical memory as an important and understudied part of democratization.
Twenty Years after Communism
Edited by Michael Bernhard and JanKubik
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List of Figures and Tables ix
List of Pictures xi
Acknowledgments xiii
About the Contributors xv
Introduction 
Michael Bernhard and JanKubik
. A eory of the Politics of Memory
JanKubik and Michael Bernhard
  |   
. Revolutionary Road: and the Fracturing of Hungarian Historical Memory 
. Roundtable Discord:e Contested Legacy of  in Poland 
Michael Bernhard and JanKubik
. Romania Twenty Years aer :e Bizarre Echoes of a
Contested Revolution 
Grigore Pop-Eleches
acprof-9780199375134.indd 7 3/19/2014 2:14:47 PM
viii Contents
. I Ignored Your Revolution, but You Forgot My Anniversary:Party Competition
in Slovakia and the Construction of Recollection 
Carol SkalnikLe, Kevin Deegan-Krause, and Sharon L. Wolchik
. Remembering the Revolution:Contested Pasts in the Baltic Countries 
Daina S. Eglitis and LauraArdava
. Memories of the Past and Visions of the Future:Remembering the Soviet
Era and Its End in Ukraine 
  |   
. Remembering, Not Commemorating, :e Twenty-Year Anniversary of the
Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic 
Conor O’Dwyer
  |   
. Making Room for November , ? e Fall of the Berlin Wall in German
Politics and Memory 
. e Inescapable Past:e Politics of Memory in Post-communist Bulgaria 
Venelin I.Ganev
. It Happened Elsewhere:Remembering  in the Former Yugoslavia 
Aida A.Hozić
  | 
. e Politics and Culture of Memory Regimes:AComparative Analysis 
Michael Bernhard and JanKubik
 
 
 
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7 Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
Independence in 1991:Gained, Gifted, or a Bit ofBoth?
August  marked the twentieth anniversary of the historic vote for state inde-
pendence in the parliament of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
On August , , days aer the failure of the conservative coup in Moscow, the
Ukrainian republic’s legislature voted  to  for the Declaration of Independence.
A referendum to conrm the vote for national independence took place on
December , , when a hugely impressive .percent voted “yes” with a high
turnout of percent. Every region (oblast) of Ukraine voted “yes,” even a majority
in the ethnically Russian Crimean peninsula (percent). On the basis of these
gures alone, one might conclude that the  independence was overwhelm-
ingly supported by both the Ukrainian political elite and the citizenry, and that the
twentieth anniversary of this event therefore must have been a broadly celebrated
national holiday marking the historical realization of popular will. In reality, how-
ever, the events of  were a more complicated story, and commemoration of these
events twenty years later could therefore range from celebration, to mourning, to
various reactions in between.
Several contentious issues surrounded the attainment of state independence
and the end of the communist era in Ukraine. From the time the Soviet regime
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
was consolidated across Ukraine aer World War II, following the suppression of
pro-independence and anti-communist armed insurrection in western Ukraine by
the late s to early s, and until Gorbachev came to power and introduced
the new electoral politics in –, only a small group of Ukrainian dissidents
dared to dream of Ukrainian state independence. Even within the dissident move-
ment, the main preoccupation was Ukrainian cultural and linguistic preservation
and survival in the face of the increasing predominance of the Russian language
and the Soviet-Russian culture, especially in large cities in central and southeastern
Ukraine. e mainstream of Ukrainian dissent in the s and the s pursued a
“legalistic approach”—working within the system (rather than seeking to overthrow
it), with the goal of forcing the Soviet state to abide by its declared commitments to
individual and national rights (Kuzio and Wilson , –).
e rise of Mikhail Gorbachev to the post of general secretary of the Soviet
Communist Party in  brought fundamental changes to the power and politics
at the center and in the republics, changing the realm of the possible, especially
between  and , when events accelerated enormously and Ukrainian state
independence ultimately became a reality. As Gorbachev slowly loosened the con-
straints on political discourse, the notoriously conservative Ukrainian Communist
Party found itself challenged by the national opposition movement, Rukh. Rukh, or
the Ukrainian Popular Movement in Support of Perestroika, was formed in  by
former dissidents and Kyiv-based Ukrainian cultural elites. Conceived originally as
a popular movement in support of Gorbachev’s perestroika, in  Rukh dropped
the words “in Support of Perestroika” from its name and became the main social and
political force advocating the independence of the Ukrainian state. In the March
 elections to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet pro-independence candidates won
between  and percent of the seats; for the rst time, the Ukrainian Supreme
Soviet became a real parliament where the Communist majority had to contend
with a small but not inconsequential, and increasingly vocal, “national-democratic”
Until the end of the Soviet era, attitudes toward Soviet rule and Ukraine’s politi-
cal status (continued membership in the union or independence) remained ambigu-
ous, and Ukraine in general lacked the clear trajectory of the Baltic republics toward
separation from the USSR. Rukh’s base of support was regionally skewed. In the
 elections Rukh-supported candidates won almost every seat in Galicia in west-
ern Ukraine, and did well in another western region with a shorter history of Soviet
rule, Volhynia. It also had strong showing in the capital, Kyiv, and in some other
urban centers in central Ukraine, but not in the south or in the east. e ambigu-
ity of popular attitudes toward independence was also evident during the March
 referendum called by Gorbachev to help gather support for his proposed new
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
version of a union treaty to preserve the USSR. In this referendum, Ukrainian vot-
ers declared themselves to be in favor of both Ukrainian sovereignty and continued
membership in the Soviet Union.
e overwhelming votes for independence just a few months later—legislative
in August  (Picture .) and popular in December —was not caused by a
dramatic growth of “national” sentiment in the population or the growth of politi-
cal power of national-democrats in the Ukrainian parliament. Rukh did not have
the strength to win independence on its own, and the Ukrainian communist elite
remained entrenched. However, responding to the new electoral politics intro-
duced by the  elections, by the end of , the Ukrainian communist elite
eectively split into Soviet loyalists and national communists. As many scholars of
Ukraine observed, it was the collapse of central authority in Moscow, following the
abortive August  coup, and the subsequent decision of the national commu-
nists (such as the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk) to cast their lot
with pro-independence forces that made Ukrainian state independence a reality
(D’Anieri ; Wilson ). Popular vote for independence during a referen-
dum on December , , was massive, with .percent in favor and .percent
turnout, but for many, if not most, the main motivation was hope for economic
improvement, not national or cultural rebirth. Rukh skillfully campaigned with the
message that Ukraine was economically exploited by the union center and would
 . Kyiv, Ukraine, August . Ukrainians cheer the declaration of independence by the
parliament (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine).
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
become “asecond France” once it was free to decide its own aairs, and transmitted
this message, backed by economic statistics, in its campaign leaets (Picture.).
Polls conducted one month before the referendum found that percent of vot-
ers saw “escape from economic crisis” as the top priority, percent “stabilization
of the economy and better standards of living,” while only percent listed “the
cultural rebirth of Ukraine” and percent “the securing of political sovereignty of
the republic.
Given the messy combination of factors behind the attainment of independence
in , coupled with the economic collapse that followed independence and the
continued poverty, social inequality, and corruption, it is hardly surprising that a
number of dierent narratives of the independence of  have been constructed.
Was Ukrainian state independence, gained in , a culmination of decades (or
even centuries) of a “national-liberation” struggle by Ukrainian patriots? Or was it
merely a present to Ukraine granted by largely external events and persons? Was it
liberation from the Soviet-Russian yoke and the attainment of “natural” nation-state
status for an objectively existing distinct Ukrainian nation, or was it a historical
tragedy, “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the th century,” to quote Russias
President Putin (Kuchins ), because it separated not just a single communist
 . Ukraine, February . “No to the Union Treaty!” Rukh leaet against Gorbachev’s
referendum on preservation of theUSSR .
Source:Photo/Vakhtang Kipiani.
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
state but tore apart an “authentic” Slavic nation composed of Russians, Ukrainians,
and Belarussians? Are Ukrainians better o now, in an independent but poor and
corrupt state, or were they better o during the “golden age” of Brezhnev-era stagna-
tion and state-guaranteed social protections? In no small part the politics of memory
in Ukraine centers on such alternative interpretations of the Soviet past, and there
is no consensus either at the societal or the elite level on these issues. Alternative
interpretations of the Soviet era—and by extension dierent attitudes to the events
of  (is it an anniversary to be celebrated or to be mourned?)—were evident in
the  commemorations.
The Twentieth Anniversary of Independence:Celebration or Mourning?
e twentieth anniversary of independence was celebrated in August , shortly
aer a tectonic political shi in Ukraine—the victory of Viktor Yanukovych in the
 presidential elections. Aer losing his bid for presidency in  following
the Orange revolution, he narrowly defeated Yulia Tymoshenko, the former ally
(turned bitter rival) of outgoing president Viktor Yushchenko. In September ,
the Constitutional Court had boosted the powers of the president and had turned
Ukraine back into a presidential republic by reversing a reform introduced in 
that curbed presidential powers in favor of parliament, and Tymoshenko and a num-
ber of other high-ranking government ocials from the “Orange period” were in
jail awaiting trial on politically motivated charges of corruption and abuse of oce.
e political climate of power grab by president Yanukovych and the oppositions
scrambling to resist it directly aected the twentieth anniversary of independence
celebrations. While the government arranged for street festivities and concerts to
mark the anniversary, courts in Kyiv, Donetsk, and other cities banned the opposi-
tion from holding alternative public marches to commemorate independence. In
Kyiv, several thousand supporters of the opposition were barred by police at the
eleventh hour from walking along one of the main streets, and clashes between
police and the marchers ensued. e opposition-organized march was headed by
members of the competitively elected Ukrainian parliament that voted for indepen-
dence in . e fact that the riot police prevented these “fathers” of independence
from peacefully marching through the capital city on the twentieth anniversary of
independence was decried by the opposition as a manifestation of cynicism and the
anti-Ukrainian nature of the Yanukovych government.
In addition to the public festivities and clashes, the marking of the twentieth anni-
versary of independence was also prominent in the media, where assessments were,
not unsurprisingly, mixed. In its issue dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
Ukraine’s independence in August , the lead article in Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (Mirror
Wee kly), the most respected Ukrainian weekly, consisted of nothing but a list of dry
facts:Twenty years since it became an independent state, Ukraine ranked rst in
the world in child alcoholism; rst in Europe in HIV-AIDS infection rate among
adults; second in the world in the amount of debt owed to the IMF; th in the
world in the Human Development Index (HDI); th out of  states in level of
wealth; st out of  in freedom of speech; th out of  in level of corruption;
and the list went on and on (Kotliar b). Another popular news portal, Zahid.
net, illustrated its articles dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of independence
with a picture of rakes under the Ukrainian ag, alluding to a common saying about
repeatedly stepping on a rake ().
Needless to say, the message was pessimistic—there is little to celebrate. Aer
twenty years as an independent state, Ukraine had little to show. To drive the point
home, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia also published a selection of leaets distributed by Rukh
on the eve of the  independence referendum. e leaets promised that inde-
pendence will bring economic prosperity:We produce at the level of European
states, but earn ve to seven times less than the Europeans”; “Ukraine is a European
country on the basis of its capacity, Moscow’s colony in reality”; and “We are poor
because we are not free. To be rich we have to be independent.
Given the unfullled hopes and expectations and grim socioeconomic reality
twenty years aer independence, the twentieth anniversary was more of a somber
milestone than a cause for celebration. is was the message emphasized in many
commentaries in August , but it was not the only message. Commentary in
the media also highlighted some achievements of independence, while sociologists
released opinion polls that showed solid, and by some accounts growing, support
for independence among Ukrainian citizens. Among its achievements as an inde-
pendent state, Ukraine can count the maintenance of interethnic peace in a region-
ally, ethnically, linguistically, and religiously divided society that many expected to
become the second Yugoslavia at the time independence was declared. Preservation
of territorial integrity and state independence itself was another o-cited achieve-
ment, as well as peaceful changes in political leadership. Ukraine was the rst
non-Baltic post-Soviet state where an incumbent president lost and stepped down
in competitive elections in  (Kravchuk); since then, three more elections for
the top oce took place, with two more incumbents, Kuchma and Yushchenko,
peacefully leaving oce (albeit not without a political crisis at the end of Kuchma’s
second term in ). Polls conducted on the eve of the twentieth anniversary regis-
tered substantial support for independence—the highest in twenty years, according
to the Razumkov Center poll, and also an increase in the number of people who
are proud of being Ukrainian and whose main identity is as a citizen of Ukraine.
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
Growing nationwide acceptance of state symbols, in particular the blue and yellow
national ag demonized in the Soviet period as a symbol of anti-Soviet Ukrainian
nationalism, is also an important trend. As one commentator remarked, “not only
in Lviv, but also in Donetsk and Crimea people are cheering for the national team
with the blue and yellow ag. At the beginning of the s this would have been
nonsense” (Fesenko).
e twentieth anniversary commemorations show clearly that the Soviet period
and its end in Ukraine were remembered very ambiguously. is is due not only
to the mixed record of twenty years of independence but also to historically
formed regional divisions, with the Russian-speaking southeast of the country and
Ukrainian-speaking center-west diverging in attitude on a number of issues, includ-
ing the Soviet past. is arguably makes creation of a national mnemonic eld more
complicated in Ukraine than in many other post-communist states. Memory poli-
tics is particularly contentious in Ukraine due to the fact that many of the compet-
ing mnemonic actors at the elite level t the denition of mnemonic warriors (to use
Kubik and Bernhards typology from Chapter) who see the content of collective
memory as non-negotiable, and who see themselves as the proprietors of the “true”
vision of thepast.
Given that mnemonic actors among the political elite construct visions of the past
to legitimize their eorts to gain and hold power, the response of the public to elite
oerings is a fundamental component of the memory regime. is chapter will thus
analyze memory politics and the menmonic eld in Ukraine at two levels—the state
level, where political elites engage in memory construction, and the societal level,
where the public reacts to the elites’ mnemonic proposals. In democratic societies,
social organizations oen oer alternatives to the constructs of the state-sponsored
memory regimes on a variety of issues. In Ukraine to date, the public has been largely
on the receiving end, although in the years following the  Orange revolution a
group of Ukrainian historians did organize and oer an alternative vision of history
that will be discussed later in this chapter.
At the state level, mnemonic warriors dominate the political action in the eld
of memory regimes construction, and each group of warriors is striving to establish
a unied mnemonic eld where their view of the past will be the hegemonic one.
However, given the attitudes to the past displayed by the Ukrainian citizens, the
eorts of mnemonic warriors cannot be characterized as successful. Instead of a uni-
ed/hegemonic mnemonic eld that each group of mnemonic warriors has aspired to
create, the mnemonic eld in post-independence Ukraine has instead been actured
and contentious, with each version of history oered by the elites resonating with
some but being rejected by other Ukrainian citizens. Examination of popular atti-
tudes suggests, however, that pillarized memory regimes may be possible in Ukraine,
acprof-9780199375134.indd 152 3/19/2014 2:15:05 PM
Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
even on the most contentious issues. As will be discussed later, public attitudes may
support the emergence of a mnemonic eld where dierent views of the past and
visions of history are perceived as legitimate, and holders of views opposite to one’s
own are not demonized and delegitimized in the public space but by contrast are
engaged in dialogue. According to Kubik and Bernhard, mnemonic pluralists are the
type of (usually elite) political actors who foster this kind of mnemonic eld, but in
Ukraine such actors are largely absent. At the same time, opinion polls show that a
substantial part of the population is ambivalent about the contested historical past
(rather than siding up rmly with one or another camp of mnemonic warriors). e
last section of this chapter will discuss how this state of popular mnemonic ambiva-
lence oers possibilities for the potential future emergence of pillarized memory
Mnemonic Actors and Elite-Level Memory Politics
As Kubik and Bernhard point out, memory regimes around particular historical
events are products of struggles between politically relevant actors who formulate
and propagate a specic vision of the past. In democracies the key politically relevant
actors are political parties, but in the post-Soviet context, where parties are weak
and the party system highly uid, scholars have conceptualized politically relevant
actors in terms of political camps rather than political parties as such. In Ukraine,
the three main political camps have been the Le, dominated by the unreformed
communists; the nationalist and national-democratic Right; and the amorphous
Center, dominated by former apparatchiks and the succession of parties of power
they have formed. e constructed views of the Soviet past in general, and of the
independence in particular, by these actors could not be more dierent.
e main political actor within the Ukrainian Le has been the orthodox
Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU). e KPU has not evolved much ideologically
since the Soviet era and continues to oppose market capitalism and Western-oriented
foreign policy. Amonograph on the Ukrainian Le published in  concluded
that “KPU evolution in the ideological sphere is not very noticeable” (Haran and
Maiboroda , ). Another analysis has noted how KPU “has remained com-
pletely loyal to the Soviet past” (Wilson , ), has shown “precious little loyalty
to the new Ukraine” (ibid., ). Its leaders also describe themselves as “Soviet patri-
ots.” Seeing the Ukrainian nation as constituent members of the “Slavic-Orthodox
civilization” and/or a component of the single “Soviet people,” the KPU laments
both the collapse of the unied Soviet state and of state socialism. e KPU thus
juxtaposes the Soviet era as an unambiguously positive period and Ukrainian
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independence as an unambiguously negative period. is attitude is clearly evident
in statements by Petro Symonenko, the KPU leader. Symonenko has argued that
the real independence day for Ukraine is not August ,  when the Ukrainian
parliament declared independence, but November , , the day of the Bolshevik
revolution. November , Symonenko contends, is “the main holiday” for Ukraine,
“essentially the independence day,” and that “there is no other day that marks the
beginning of Ukrainian state independence” (No ). By contrast,
August , the ocial Independence Day, can be celebrated, according to the leader
of the Ukrainian communists, “only by representatives of big oligarchic capital and
their lobbyists in government organs for whom these two decades [since indepen-
dence] were marked by successful appropriation (prykhvatyzatsia) of people’s prop-
erty,” as well as by “national-fascist clowns of dierent varieties” who “for twenty
years are slobbering essentially a fascist slogan—‘Ukraine for the Ukrainians,’ and
under this slogan robbing the motherland and sowing antagonism and xenophobia
(Komunist ). e message of the Le is clear and unambiguous—thumbs up for
the Soviet era, thumbs down for independence. is message could not be more dif-
ferent from the one expressed by theRight.
Within the Ukrainian Right, the political party Rukh, the successor of the
perestroika-era pro-independence popular movement, was the main actor in the
s. Its breakup led to the emergence of several Right and Center-Right parties,
of which the Our Ukraine party has been most signicant in the second decade
of independence. Ideologically, the Ukrainian Right has been the polar opposite
of the Ukrainian Le on virtually every issue, from economic reforms to foreign
policy, and this opposition is reected in its position toward the Soviet past. At
the heart of the Right’s view on the Ukrainian nation and the Ukrainian state is,
rst and foremost, the emphasis on the distinctiveness of Ukraine and Ukrainians
from Russia and the Russians. Russia is presented as the main “other” against which
Ukrainian identity is dened, an occupying empire (Tsarist and later Soviet) from
which Ukraine’s independence was nally regained in . e Right’s vision of
Ukrainian history is that of a centuries-old national-liberation struggle from various
occupiers (Poles, Tatars, and above all, Russians) that brought only brief periods of
independence in the past (the Kievan Rus’, the Cossack republic of the seventeenth
century, the Ukrainian Republic of –). In  the dream of independent
statehood was eventually realized.
With Ukrainian state independence being a sacred value for the Right, the twen-
tieth anniversary of this independence was indisputably a milestone to welcome and
to celebrate. e holiday, however, was bittersweet, since the realities of indepen-
dent Ukraine turned out to be quite dierent from what the Right had desired when
Rukh spearheaded the drive for independence and eventually autonomy in the late
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
s and the early s. is mix of celebration and disappointment is evident in
the statements issued by political actors of the Right on the occasion of the twen-
tieth anniversary of August . For example, a letter signed by the leaders of a
number of right of center political groups and parties lauds the fact that indepen-
dence declared on August , , lasted, and that “Ukraine has been recognized
by the world community as an independent state with borders, national symbols,
its own body of laws, Constitution, and armed forces” (Vol yn ). At the same
time, the statement qualied those sentiments. Ukrainian independence, for which
the signatories, including Rukhs founders, had fought, was meant to be “Ukrainian
in substance, socially just, and democratic, with the subordination in practice of
the members of parliament, the Presidents, and the government as a whole to the
Ukrainian voters.” is, however, did not happen, and the reason for this, as far as
the Right is concerned, is the continued dominance by Soviet-era elites who have
controlled the top echelons of Ukraine’s leadership during the post-independence
period. ese “products of the Soviet party-nomenklatura system . . . only manipu-
lated the principles of statehood, without any intention to implement them. Instead,
they robbed and appropriated communal property and created a clan-oligarchic sys-
tem” (Vol yn).
e above quotes make it clear that in the early twenty-rst century the Le and
the Right in Ukraine are antagonists who hold diametrically opposed positions on
the Soviet past and who advocate diametrically opposite versions of historical mem-
ory. Each sees history in black and white terms, and each sees itself as the proprietor
of the “true” vision of the past that needs to be transmitted and accepted by others.
As such, the Le and the Right are clearly mnemonic warriors.
e third group of political elites in Ukraine is the amorphous centrists, domi-
nated by the former apparatchiks, oen referred to as the party of power. Aden-
ing feature of the “party of power” is ideological amorphousness. As Wilson put it,
“the center . . . never had much of an identity of its own, [and] has been occupied
by virtual politics, a shiing kaleidoscope of clan groups, shadowy business and old
nomenklatura interests” (Wilson ,).
In terms of Kubik and Bernhards typology, Ukrainian centrist elites are mnemonic
abnegators—actors who avoid memory politics either because they are uninterested
or see no advantage in engaging in them. Ukrainian “centrists” t this denition
because the old apparatchiks and the new businessmen who dominate political par-
ties comprising the center are indeed uninterested in thinking in terms of mythical
time and instead focus on the present. As mnemonic abnegators, the centrist elites
have never oered any original approach to historical memory or its own vision of
the country’s past. Nevertheless, the centrists participate in cultural and mnemonic
wars instrumentally. In their approach to historical memory, the centrist elites lean
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
toward either the Le’s or the Right’s versions of history, depending on the politi-
cal and electoral environment at the time. e Center could not aord to act as a
true mnemonic abnegator in the post-independence period because, even though
the party of power has been a dominant force in the political arena, it was not quite
strong enough to command a parliamentary majority on its own. e centrist elites
therefore had to make alliances either with the communists and the Le, or with
national-democrats and the Right. In electoral terms, it was equivalent to seek-
ing voter support either in the southeast or the center-west of the country. Given
that among the centrist political parties there has never been much dierentiation
on programmatic issues—all claim to support a market economy with high social
standards, democracy, European values, and constructive friendly relations with
Russia—centrist political elites had no qualms about using and abusing historical
and cultural hot button issues to mobilize supporters and reap political and elec-
toral prots. In sum, in their view of the Soviet past, the centrists tend to avoid con-
troversy when they can and act instrumentally when they cannot. us, President
Yanukovych’s article in the issue of Mirror Weekly on the eve of the twentieth anni-
versary of Ukrainian independence was full of clichés, self-praise, and attempts to
convey optimism. Pretentiously titled “Ukraine Is  Years Old:Our Path Is Just
Beginning,” the article is peppered with clichéd references to “European values,
“European choice,” the goal of a “democratic and prosperous Ukraine,” and “the uni-
fying force of the independence idea” (Yanukovych ). It talks about society’s
“ongoing struggle to overcome Soviet legacy,” and asserts that “romantic fascination”
with the fact of independence (presumably by the national-democrats) had to give
way to “concrete steps and pragmatic approach” (with the capable pragmatics being
the centrist elites). ere is neither explicit condemnation of the Soviet past (beyond
a reference to unspecied “legacies” to be overcome), nor praising of the Sovietera.
e wholesale rejection of the Soviet past, its wholesale embrace, and the “cen-
trist” neither-nor position without any coherent message of its own have been and
remain the three main memory regime options for the remembering of the Soviet
era in Ukraine. In the s and the early s, these three options were clearly
associated with, respectively, Rukh, the communist party, and the oligarchic parties
of power. In the subsequent period—from the time of the  Orange revolution
and beyond—the three memory regime oerings have remained unchanged and
continue to be the only three options oered by the political elites, but the associa-
tion of each option with the Right or Le opposition or the power-holding center,
respectively, has changed.
One of the main changes brought about by the Orange revolution and the elec-
tion of Viktor Yushchenko as president in  was that, for the rst time, the
power-holding group in the country was not the ideologically amorphous “centrist”
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
Soviet-era nomenklatura that had only an instrumental interest in the questions
of historical memory. Instead, from  to , much (although not all) of the
ruling elite group—most notably the president himself—subscribed to the version
of the past advocated by the Right, and made historical memory central to their
political agenda. Yushchenko personally saw the inculcation of the nation into the
“proper” version of collective memory as a priority. He remarked in a television
appearance:“What is Ukraine if it has dierent views even on history?” (President.
e mnemonic agenda of Yushchenko’s presidency included a campaign to rec-
ognize the – killer famine unleashed by Stalin on Ukraine as a genocide
of the Ukrainian nation (an interpretation vehemently opposed by Russia and by
the Ukrainian communists), as well as attempts to revise the Soviet-era interpre-
tations of World War II, in particular the assessment of the Ukrainian nationalist
organizations such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its
military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). In what was arguably the
most controversial decision of his presidency, during its nal weeks, Yushchenko
awarded posthumously the Hero of Ukraine title, the highest state honor, to the
leader of the OUN, Stepan Bandera. Earlier he had conferred the same honor on
the UPA commander-in-chief Roman Shukhevych. e OUN and UPA fought for
an independent Ukrainian state against the Soviet forces well into the s, and the
award was conferred for “defending national ideas and battling for an independent
Ukrainian state.” e move was controversial and drew condemnation internation-
ally because many members of the OUN and the UPA were also implicated in the
Holocaust and the murder of Polish and Ukrainian civilians in western Ukraine.
Within Ukraine, anger at Yushchenko’s decrees and rejection of the OUN and the
UPA generally had rather dierent roots. In the Soviet era, the Jewish victims of the
Holocaust were subsumed in the category of “peaceful Soviet citizens” in the ocial
discourse, and the Ukrainian-Polish conict of the war period and UPA’s role in it
was also a blank spot in the ocial narrative of the war. Instead, it was the OUN
and the UPAs ght against Soviet forces and history of violent resistance to Soviet
control of Ukraine in the s and s that alienated those attached to the Soviet
narrative of the war, concentrated in the south and east of the country. Yushchenko
did little to integrate these regions into his vision of Ukrainian identity on this and
many other issues as well.
e embrace of the Right’s position by those in power following the 
Orange revolution was something new in Ukraine. Moreover, the new mnemonic
position of the president and pro-presidential political elites played a role in the
collapse of the “Orange” coalition and the bitter rivalry that emerged between
president Yushchenko and his one-time ally and former prime minister Yulia
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
Tymoshenko. While their rivalry revolved around a struggle for political power,
memory issues were also salient, as Yushchenko and his supporters on the Right
viewed Tymoshenko and her party as not “pro-Ukrainian” enough on national
and cultural issues (which in part also explains her narrow loss to Yanukovych in
the  presidential race). Tymoshenko and those around her, however, never
articulated any alternative conception of the past. Instead, for her, just as for the
quasi-centrists of the Kuchma era, historical memory issues were of secondary
importance—something to be mindful of only inasmuch as they aected their
electoral fortunes and the rst-order concerns of maintaining and increasing politi-
cal and economicpower.
When Victor Yanukovych assumed the presidency in , the ideology of the
power-holding class swung sharply to the Le. As far as its attitude toward the
Soviet era, the Yanukovych regime is a return to amorphous centrism, compared to
Yushchenko. Yanukovych’s twentieth anniversary speech discussed earlier is a case
in point. At the same time, rather than returning to Kuchmas role as the main arbi-
ter between clans and groups, including the interpretation of the past, Yanukovch
embraced the “Russian-Soviet-East Slavonic identity” to a greater extent than had
either Kuchma or his predecessor Leonid Kravchuk (Riabchuk , ). While
Yanukovych personally demonstrates much less interest in the politics of memory
than did Yushchenko, instead of striking the familiar “centrist” tune of maintaining
social stability, advancing modernization, and “improving livelihood today,” he occa-
sionally engages in memory politics. For example, he spoke against Yushchenko’s
honoring of Bandera and Shukhevych, and the decrees were repealed in court shortly
aer Yanukovych became president, although the stated rational was juridical rather
than political or moral. Yanukovych also spoke against the interpretation of the
– famine as a genocide of Ukrainians, recasting it instead as a “common
tragedy of the people of the USSR” (BBC, )—this characterization has long
been Russia’s position—and signed a law authorizing the ocial use of the Soviet
ag in Ukraine during Victory Day celebrations (May ). Active revision of the o-
cial history and its teaching in schools has also taken place during Yanukovych’s ten-
ure following the appointment of a notorious Ukrainophobe, Dmytro Tabachnyk,
as Minister of Education (Kapliuk,).
Given that two of the three main elite actors in Ukraine are clearly mnemonic
warriors (the Le and the Right), the memory regimes produced at the elite level
are best characterized as fractured/contentious. is has been the case throughout
the independence period. e period aer the Orange revolution was dierent inas-
much as the governing elites were not “centrists” but a mixture of Right and Center,
but the nature of the mnemonic eld produced by state policies was still divisive and
contentious. Even if one could argue that during Yushchenko’s tenure the national
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
mnemonic eld was particularly contentious, during all periods (pre-Orange revo-
lution, the Orange period, and post-Orange revolution) the mnemonic eld was
fractured and contentious due to the consistent articulation of two distinct, coher-
ent, and contradictory historical narratives by elite actors who saw themselves as
proprietors of the “true” vision of Ukraine’s past. e mnemonic warriors of the
Le and the Right have sought to convince others, including society at large, to
accept their vision of the “true” past, but it has proven dicult to do. e “cen-
trists” have tried to cast themselves as moderates, but their message has been both
muddled and unconvincing. Ultimately, each of the three main actors in memory
politics in Ukraine has been repeatedly criticized by opponents, as well as by more
neutral commentators, for espousing exclusionary versions of the past, and/or for
being downright hypocritical.
For example, the communists’ criticism of the “oligarchs” and praise of the
Soviet system as an embodiment of popular interest does not square with either the
well-known realities of the Soviet system, when the nomenklatura enjoyed perks
and privileges inaccessible to the majority of the people, or the current lavish life-
style of the KPU leaders, or the KPU’s position vis-à-vis the “oligarchic” parties.
KPU leader Petro Symonenko reportedly lives in a luxurious mansion with a marble
balustrade and an underground garage (Gomon ), and his party has been a reli-
able ally of the “oligarchic” parties in the Ukrainian parliament.
e version of the past championed by the Ukrainian Right—demonizing all
things Soviet and stressing Ukrainian/Russian distinction and historical opposi-
tion—is also of limited appeal in contemporary Ukrainian society. Perpetual eco-
nomic crisis and the collapse of living standards and the social safety net following
independence can create nostalgia for the late Soviet era, not only for supporters of
the KPU but for ideologically non-committed citizens as well. is yearning for the
social safety of the Soviet era is indeed shared by many Ukrainians, especially, but
not exclusively, older citizens.
In a society where many are bilingual and bicultural, a weariness of the Right’s
vision of Ukraine and Russia as “others” has set in. e cultural image of Ukraine
espoused by the Right, “a romantic, essentially peasant, and premodern Ukraine—
white cottages, embroidered shirts, ‘beetles buzzing above the cherry trees,’ one
Ukrainian language, etc.” (Dutsyk )has a limited appeal in contemporary soci-
ety, among both the bicultural plurality and Ukraine’s smaller ethnic minorities.
e self-proclaimed centrists have not done much better than the Le and the
Right as far as winning over society with their vision of the “true” past. For one, the
Center has not articulated any distinct image of the past, while the attempts of the
elites from the parties of power to speak of the Soviet past in “centrist” terms have
for the most part rung hollow. In a caustic response to President Yanukovych’s article
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
on the twentieth anniversary of independence, one public intellectual spelled out
just how the ruling elite’s message is unconvincing:
From the president’s article we learn, that “the harsh reality ruined hopes for
the fast improvement of living conditions, and for rapid construction of free
and prosperous society and law-based democratic state.” But the president, nat-
urally, does not mention who was and remains the main creator of this mythi-
cally impersonal “reality.” Moreover, he does not mention that this mysterious
‘reality’ ruined the hopes of his fellow citizens quite selectively:for some rea-
son neither Viktor Fedorovych himself, nor all of his buddies who successively
appropriated Ukraine during the last twenty years, have suered one bit from
this wretched “reality.” uite the opposite in fact—thanks to independence,
all of their “hopes for the fast improvement in living conditions” were realized
to the fullest measure. We also learn from the president’s article that “for sev-
eral decades now our society is struggling to overcome the Soviet legacy.” e
president again is shyly quiet about his own role in the overcoming of this “leg-
acy.” He does not mention either his own signature under the decree returning
the red Soviet ags to the ocial use, or progressive re-Sovietization of school
textbooks by the Ukrainophobic [education] minister, or the remaking of the
so-called “Ukrainian Security Service” into a de-facto KGB, or the continued
existence of numerous monuments to the Bolshevik vampires and places and
streets named aer them. (Riabchuk)
e next section will consider to what extent the memory regimes articulated by
the Ukrainian political elites resonate with the Ukrainian public, and how the elites
failure to impose any one memory regime on the public may in fact enable pillarized
memory regime in Ukraine.
Popular Reception of Elite Offerings:Ambivalent Society and
theProspects for a Pillarized MnemonicField
With key elite mnemonic actors in Ukraine composed of two sets of mnemonic
warriors (communist and nationalist) and a power-holding Center that prefers
strategic abnegation, a fractured and contentious memory eld has been consis-
tent throughout the twenty years of independence. Because of the more pluralistic
nature of Ukrainian politics (in comparison to Russia and Belarus), its ethnolinguis-
tic and regional diversity, and the presence of strong political opposition (no matter
whether the party of power rules in alliance with the Right or the Le), mnemonic
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
warriors have not been able to establish mnemonic hegemony. e oscillation of
political power has resulted in the rotation of mnemonic warriors, each trying but
ultimately failing to rmly establish their vision of the past throughout the society
Ukraine may not be doomed, however, to perpetual memory wars, but might be
able to move toward a pillarized mnemonic eld where, Kubik and Bernhard assert,
“competing visions of the past ‘peacefully coexist’ ” and where “[m] nemonic actors
either accept this state of aairs or engage in a dialogue whose goal is a compromise
in the form of a mnemonic reconciliation.” Such a mnemonic eld is not only more
conducive to political pluralism and democracy; it is arguably the only sustainable
one in a society such as Ukraine that features multiple historical, ethnic, linguistic,
and cultural experiences and identities. One way for such a pillarized mnemonic
eld to emerge is for mnemonic actors to become mnemonic pluralists who recog-
nize that others can have their own legitimate visions of the past and who believe
that the others are entitled to their visions. At the moment (), none of the
Ukrainian political actors active in memory politics is a mnemonic pluralist. Still, at
the level of society there are foundations for a pillarized mnemonic eld—an envi-
ronment where a large share of the population is not committed to a singular vision
of the “true” past and thus is potentially open to a dialogue to discover “the areas of
overlap among the competing visions and to articulate a set of common mnemonic
fundamentals”—de facto already exists.
e share of mnemonic pluralists in the society can be estimated from opinion
polls on contested historical events and personalities. Studies of Ukraine usually
emphasize the east-west divide, which is a real, important, and persistent feature
of the country (Arel ; Katchanovski ). At the same time, many scholars
have cautioned against the oversimplied image of Ukraine divided in two mono-
lithic opposing camps—Russian-speaking pro-Russian east and Ukrainina-speaking
pro-Western west—by drawing attention to fractured and multilayered local,
regional, and borderline identities that exist within each of the two camps (Hrytsak
; Portnov ; Richardson ; Zakharchenko ; Zhurzhenko ).
Furthermore, even if the east and the west have strong and oen opposite opinions
on a variety of issues, there is also a sizable center of the country that is distinct from
both the east and the west by its ambivalent attitudes and that is oen overlooked by
analysts of Ukraine. As opinion polls show, on virtually any hot-button contentious
issue, a trifold rather than a twofold division exists in Ukraine, with the extreme
west and east of the country holding for the most part opposite opinions, while the
numerically large and strategically important center of the country remains ambiva-
lent on many issues, including historical memory and the Sovietpast.
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
One good illustration of this trifold division and ambiguity in attitudes in the
geographical center is a poll that asked Ukrainians whether they support granting
the ghters of the UPA the status of participants in the national-liberation struggle.
e “correct” way to remember the UPA may be the single most contested issue in
memory politics in post-independence Ukraine. As a nationalist anti-Soviet resis-
tance movement, the UPA and the OUN were demonized during the Soviet period
as an embodiment of anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalism and traitors from the point
of view of “Soviet motherland.” Since independence, the Right has wanted to elevate
the UPA and the OUN and their leaders into the pantheon of Ukrainian heroes for
ghting for Ukraine’s independence.
e narratives of the “OUN-UPA” issue advanced by the political elites do not give
Ukrainians a choice other than “heroes and freedom ghters” or “traitors and murder-
ers” when it comes to remembering these groups. At the same time, even on this argu-
ably most divisive historical issue in today’s Ukraine, there appears to be some room
for compromise in society. ADecember  poll asking Ukrainians if they support
granting the UPA ghters the status of participants in the national-liberation struggle
showed, predictably, that the east and the west sharply disagreed on the matter:in
the western regions, percent supported the idea, while in Donetsk and Crimea
just percent did. e center, however, was not nearly as polarized. According to
the poll, voters in central Ukraine were equally divided, with percent opposing
recognition while percent supporting it partly orfully.
e poll gave an option not only to express support or opposition to the UPA
veteran status, but to answer “dicult to say” or to answer “I support recognition
[of UPA ghters as veterans] as long as the government does not impose its view
on the citizens and everyone can decide whether or not to honor UPA ghters.
Nationwide, these two responses gathered percent and percent, respectively,
which can be interpreted to mean that over one-third of the population was (in
)potentially open to a compromised solution to the “OUN-UPA problem”
and accepted the existence and the legitimacy of dierent memories of the OUN
and the UPA. Central Ukraine again stood out as the region most open to a mem-
ory compromise, given that it had the largest share of undecided (percent, com-
pared to percent in Ukraine as a whole).
More research needs to be done to tap into versions of popular memory on divi-
sive historical topics to ascertain the presence and the size of the reservoir of popular
receptivity to pluralistic ways of remembering the past, how this reservoir has varied
by region and perhaps by age, education, or other criteria, and what kinds of pil-
larized memory regimes on particular issues the public may be willing to support.
Based on the data discussed in this section and on the growing body of research that
highlights the layered and multidimensional identities held by many Ukrainians,
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Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
even if they are forced (or chose) to embrace more exclusive identities at election
times, a general hypothesis can nevertheless be advanced that just as regional soci-
etal divisions have been shown to enable political “pluralism by default” in Ukraine
and a more competitive politics that would not have existed otherwise (Way ;
Brudny and Finkel ), these divisions also have the potential to lead to pillar-
ized memory regimes on variety of issues. Importantly, popular mnemonic pluralism
exists at the level of society by default—not because of state policies or the actions
of elite actors. Whether “ocial” pillarized memory regimes will emerge in Ukraine
remains to be seen. For such regimes to emerge, one of the two things would need
to happen. First, elite action:the Ukrainian elites would have to start acting as mne-
monic pluralists—something they were unable and unwilling to do so far, not least
because manipulating “memory wars” is a quick shortcut to electoral mobilization
when political parties are unable to dierentiate themselves on other programmatic
issues. Yet, if the political elites were to start acting like mnemonic pluralists, they
would meet a rather receptive audience at the popular level, especially in the geo-
graphic center of the country.
As of  there is no indication that any elite group is prepared to act as mne-
monic pluralists. Moreover, the situation arguably became more pessimistic at the
end of , when in the October  legislative elections, the rst national-level
elections since Yanukovych ascended to presidency, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda
(Freedom) party had a surprisingly strong showing and became one of the two new
parties in the Ukrainian parliament, capturing  out of  seats. e Euromaidan
protests that began in November  further polarized Ukrainian society and
raised the prole of Svoboda as one of the key forces of the protest movement. e
outcome of the Euromaidan protests are unknown, but it is likely that in the next
election cycle historical memory will again be manipulated by political elites eager
to mobilize theirbase.
Still, even if elites do not start acting as mnemonic pluralists, a pillarized memory
regime conducive to dialogue and mutual tolerance could still emerge. is would
be a second conceivable path:the elites acting as abnegators, staying o the topic
of memory politics, and letting the society sort it out. If this were to happen, the
benets of a pillarized memory regime could accrue spontaneously. Without elites
engaging in memory wars, the east and the west may feel less threatened that the
current or prospective government will assail their “historical truth” with state
power and institutions. In the absence of siege mentality in the east and the west,
the live-and-let-live attitude currently characteristic of the center may begin to radi-
ate out, as it were. Such a memory regime would not end east-west disagreements
overnight, but it will enable a search for common “mnemonic fundamentals” in the
society through discovering the areas of overlap among the competing visions.
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 Twenty Years aer Communism
So far there have not been any discernible initiatives from civil society organiza-
tions to solve memory disputes via compromise, although research in anthropology
and sociology shows that at the societal level such a search for compromise is oen
going on spontaneously, and/or is guided by individuals such as schoolteachers.
at said, there has been one societal-level initiative worth mentioning. From 
through , twelve professional historians from dierent regions of Ukraine held
a series of meetings in which they reviewed the history textbooks used to teach his-
tory in grades seven through twelve and proposed a radically new concept for a basic
history textbook. e commission put forth a detailed proposal for the content
of history textbooks that was nalized in March , just aer Yanukovych was
elected president. e proposal centered on the idea that to present a version of
historical memory, which can form the basis of national unity, a textbook needs
to take a fundamentally dierent approach to history. It needs to be narrated not
through the prism of historic ethnic nations but through the prism of individuals
and groups inhabiting the territory of today’s states. Interestingly, this new con-
ception of history teaching would eectively deconstruct both the “Soviet” and the
“national” approaches to the country’s past. e project was sponsored and paid for
by the state under the guise of the National Memory Institute during the tenure of
President Yushchenko, who personally embraced a much dierent view of Ukraine’s
past. Yushchenko departed from oce before the historians nished their work,
and under Yanukovych the commission, in the words of its head Natalia Yakovenko,
“died a quiet death.
e historians’ initiative is now defunct, but even if it is resurrected in the future
and provokes a nationwide discussion about how to approach the past in a way that
serves to unite rather than to divide, the process is sure to be lengthy and tortur-
ous. Nevertheless, it would be preferable to constant memory wars that have accom-
panied Ukrainian independence. Ukrainian political elites of all persuasions may
eventually come to see it as preferable to the evidently futile struggle to establish
a hegemonic mnemonic eld in Ukraine. If this were to happen, Ukraine could
become a (rare) example of a state with weak democratic traditions and divided
society that nevertheless establishes a pillarized rather than fractured/contentious
. Results of the referendum vote by region are reproduced in Kuzio and Wilson (,).
. e dissident movement arose during the Khrushchev’s “thaw” and became known as shesty-
desiatnyky (the generation of the s).
. e Brezhnev-era Ukrainian dissident movement was not large in absolute terms (one survey
put the number at exactly  in the early s [Krawchenko and Carter ,]), but it was
acprof-9780199375134.indd 164 3/19/2014 2:15:06 PM
Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
probably the largest in the USSR and also the most severely repressed by the KGB. According
to the Moscow Helsinki Group, by the early s Ukrainian dissidents constituted the largest
single group of political prisoners in the USSR, while another study estimated that Ukrainians
accounted for between  and percent of political prisoners in the Gulag camps of Mordovia
(estimates as cited in Kuzio and Wilson , ). For a comprehensive analysis of the Ukrainian
dissident movement in the last two decades of the Soviet period, see Kasianov ().
. By comparison, similar popular fronts in the Baltic republics, Transcaucasia and Moldova
won up to percent of seats in the same elections.
. Regional variations in the  vote for Rukh-supported candidates are reproduced and
analyzed in Kuzio and Wilson (, –).
. e Gorbachev’s ballot question was “Do you consider it necessary to preserve the USSR as
a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, in which human rights and the freedom of all
nationalities will be fully guaranteed,” to which .percent of Ukrainians voted “yes.” Leonid
Kravchuk, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, inserted an additional question on the ballot
throughout Ukraine:“Do you agree that Ukraine should be a part of the Union of Sovereign
States on the basis of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine [passed in July]”, to
which .percent said “yes.” March  referendum results for Ukraine, including breakdown
by region, in Kuzio and Wilson (,).
. Rukh campaign leaets from the  referendum are reproduced in Ukrains’ka Pravda
. Poll results in November , , issue of Holos Ukrainy, as reproduced in Kuzio and Wilson
. See the commentary of opposition leaders on the events of August , , in Radio
Svoboda ().
. e Razumkov Center poll showed that .percent of respondents supported indepen-
dence. While this is substantially lower than the  referendum results, when over percent of
Ukrainians voted for independence, it is an increase from previous years and the highest support
recorded since  (Razumkov Center).
. In , percent of respondents chose “citizen of Ukraine” as their primary identity;
in  this percentage rose to percent. At the same time, the percentage of those primarily
self-identifying as citizens of the former USSR dropped from percent in  to percent in
. Polling data by the Institute of Sociology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, as reported
in Fesenko ().
. On this threefold division of the political spectrum in Ukraine, see Wilson (), espe-
cially chapter.
. Communist member of parliament Yurii Solomatin, as quoted in Wilson (,).
. e communist position on Ukrainian national and state independence as articulated by
the party head, Petro Symomenko, can be found in Symonenko (). It is also analyzed in
Haran’ and Maiboroda (, –), and in Wilson (). ese studies note how, by the late
s, Ukrainian communists began to supplement their nostalgic Soviet nationalism with East
Slavic nationalism that emphasizes the unity of Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians in particu-
lar, rather than all Soviet nationalities in general.
. It was the Bolsheviks and Lenin personally, Symonenko reasoned, who enabled Ukrainian
independence, since in , following the fall of tsarism, the Bolsheviks in the Russian State Duma
supported the rst Universal of the Central Council of Ukraine (Ukrains’ka Tsentral’na Rada)
acprof-9780199375134.indd 165 3/19/2014 2:15:06 PM
 Twenty Years aer Communism
that proclaimed the autonomy of Ukraine within the Russian empire. Lenin’s nationality policies
in the Soviet period also enabled Ukrainian state independence, according to Symonenko.
. For the history of Rukh and its ideology, see Honcharuk and Shanovs’ka (); also
Kulyk ().
. In the post-independence period, the center controlled about percent of parliamentary
seats most of the time. For the share of seats held by the Le, Right, and Center in the Ukrainian
parliament (Verkhovna Rada) by convocation since , see Shevel (, Table.).
. On this lack of programmatic dierentiation, see, for example, Osipian and Osipian ().
. is was not the rst time the “OUN-UPA” question was put on the government agenda, as
back in  President Leonid Kuchma created a government commission to study the activities
of the OUN and the UPA. However, it was during Yushchenkos presidency that the government
began to push for a legal recognition of the OUN and the UPA members as war veterans in ear-
nest. e rst government legislative initiative to this eect was sent to the parliament in 
(, ). All in all during , the rst year of Yushchenkos presidency, seven
dra laws to this eect were registered in the parliament by pro-presidential deputies (Shevel
, Table,).
. e many aspects of the controversial past and the memory of Bandera specically and of
the OUN and the UPA generally are covered in Amar etal. (). For a summary of Bandera’s
political past, Yushchenko’s decision to grant him hero status, and international condemnation of
this decision, see also Snyder ().
. According to one study that tracked Yushchenkos visits, statements, and participations in
commemorative events, during the entire period of his presidency he took part in ocial histori-
cal and cultural commemorations only in the “Orange” regions of the country (the center and
the west of Ukraine), essentially “ignoring the places of memory of the south-east” (Osipian and
Osipian , –).
. Yushchenko and a number of prominent Ukrainian cultural intelligentsia gures called for
an “against all” vote in the second round, on the argument that Tymoshenko and Yanukovych
are equally unsuitable to represent a pro-Ukrainian position in the cultural and foreign policy
spheres in particular.
. In April , a court in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk ruled that Yushchenkos
decrees granting Bandera and Shukhevych the Hero of Ukraine awards were illegal, not because
of Bandera’s and Shukhevych’s actions, but because neither was a citizen of Ukraine (Ukrains’ka
Pravda, ). e rationale behind the court’s reasoning has been questioned given that a dozen
other holders of the Hero of Ukraine status also died before  when the Ukrainian citizen-
ship law entered into force, and therefore are also not citizens of Ukraine, but there has been no
motion to annul these awards as well (Hudyma).
. As Portnov puts it, “the presence of several regional centers with their versions of history
contributes to the preservation of pluralism in public sphere and does not allow any one narrative
to become dominant on the whole territory of Ukraine” (Portnov ,).
. Kubik and Bernhard, “A eory of the Politics of Memory,” Chapter of this volume.
. Poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation conducted in December , results as
reported in Ukrainska Pravda ().
. Hrytsak (), Portnov (), Richardson (), Zakharchenko (), and
Zhurzhenko () are all examples of such studies.
acprof-9780199375134.indd 166 3/19/2014 2:15:06 PM
Memories of the Past and Visions of theFuture
. For example, social anthropologist Tanya Richardson, who studied how history is taught
and received by high school students in dierent regions of Ukraine, questioned the eectiveness
of history education in inculcating ideas about the nation and its history contained in history
textbooks. Instead, Richardson observed that “personal and family memoirs, Ukrainian histori-
cal narratives, and Soviet ocial history all contest each other in the classroom, oen leading to
ambivalence among young people” (Richardson ,).
. For details on the historians’ proposal and justications, see lecture by Natalia Yakovenko,
the head of the historians’ working group ( ). All documents produced by the work-
ing group are available at the website of the National Memory Institute (Ukrains’kyi instytut
natsional’noi pamiati).
. Although, as Ihave discussed elsewhere, the initiative came from historians rather than
from the state and the approval of the historians nal proposal by Yushchenko’s government was
also not certain (Shevel , –, especially fn.).
. Yakovenko as quoted in Trehub ().
. In January , for example, a group of  historians from dierent regions of Ukraine
launched a civic movement to promote historical reconciliation. e historians warned against
deepening memory wars and political elites’ use of historical memory as an instrument of elec-
toral mobilization, and argued that historical reconciliation has to be based on European demo-
cratic principles in the eld of history teaching and that societal initiatives from below, rather
than elite and state level policies, need to play “important, if not the leading role in task of histori-
cal reconciliation” (Ukrains’ka Pravda).
acprof-9780199375134.indd 167 3/19/2014 2:15:06 PM
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Studio Radio. . “Berlinski zid i Stari most:Šta se izgradilo a šta srušilo u mom životu?”
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Adamson, Kevin, and Dejan Jovic. . “e Macedonian-Albanian Political Frontier:e
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... The process of coming to terms with the Soviet past provided scholars of the region with a quarter of a century worth of material to examine the normative and legal dimensions of renaming (e.g. Kasianov 2018;Liubarets 2016;Marples 2007) and its implications for the progress of changing relations to the past (Shevel 2014;Jilge 2014;Rjabtschuk 2005). Cross-regional comparison of the various forms how history can be reinterpreted have been repeatedly undertaken and have inspired attempts to classify different types of memory policies (Fedor, Lewis, and Zhurzhenko 2017;Kubik and Bernhard 2014;Troebst 2006). ...
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This article examines practices of tour guiding in Kyiv in the context of an ideologically disciplined commemorative culture. Responding to calls for more critical engagement with changing place names, we show how tour guides use them to walk the fine line between entertaining their guests and positioning themselves in memory debates.
... For more information on Ukraine's divided memories and the concept of two Ukraines, seeRiabchuk (2003Riabchuk ( , 2015,Hrytsak (2004),Portnov (2010),Shevel (2014),Zaharchenko (2013) andZhurzhenko (2014). ...
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I examine how social media and historical memory were used for the social construction of security issues during the Euromaidan protests in January–February 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine in May–June 2014. Using a large sample of multi-lingual data, I investigate how securitizing speech-acts were produced on Twitter, what their audience was at different stages of the Ukraine crisis, and in which ways historical memories were employed by pro- and anti-Maidan groups for framing the events in Ukraine as a matter of existential threat. My findings suggest that historical memory, in particular of World War II, served as a facilitating condition for the securitization of the Ukraine crisis and contributed to its discursive escalation.
Using the example of the so called “Polish refugees” (pol’perebezhchiki), the paper discusses a research problem of the “blind spots” of historical memory. By the technical term pol’perebezhchiki the NKVD investigators denoted a special social group of the former citizens of the interwar Poland – mainly ethnic Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Jews, – who escaped to the Soviet Union in the 1920s – 1930s, and, according to the order № 00485 from 11.08.1937 issued by Nicholas Ezhov, were almost totally exterminated during the 1937–38 ‘NKVD Polish operation’. “Polish refugees” do not exist, as the objects of commemoration, neither in traditions of national remembrance (Polish, Jewish, Belarusian, Ukrainian or Russian ones), because they cannot be introduced into the heroic or lacrimous national narratives; nor in the memory of their families: as young men, they were not married and did not have children. They are ignored by scholars as well. Based on the materials of the NKVD archives in Perm, the author tries to reconstruct the main features of the standard procedure of the treatment of “Polish refugees” elaborated by the NKVD up to 1931: (1) several months of imprisonment near the Polish-Soviet border, (2) transferring to the “Sarov concentration camp” organized especially for such refugees, (3) several years of labour in one of the GULAG camp, (4) and finally, liberation from the camp and accepting of Soviet citizenship. The object of special interest are the series of biographies of the group of “Polish refugees” who were, at the moment of their arrest, the students of Perm educational institutes.
Stalin’s collectivization campaigns and the associated famine killed millions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, yet the two countries commemorate the events quite differently. In Ukraine, the Holodomor (death by hunger) occupies a prominent place in the public sphere and is remembered most frequently as a genocidal policy against the Ukrainian nation. In Kazakhstan, the famine takes up little space in the public arena, and officials remain reluctant to call it a genocide. This article explores these differences using two models explaining variation in the politics of memory: one emphasizing the instrumental calculations of political elites and the other emphasizing the historical and cultural constraints that frame contemporary debates. These two models complement each other rather than compete. The contest over the famine in Ukraine was in part a consequence of eastern and western Ukraine’s differing histories, but it intensified when governing politicians deployed the memory of the famine instrumentally in the 2000s. In Kazakhstan, political calculations led the regime to emphasize unity and stability over divisive debates about the past, but historical factors made depoliticizing the famine feasible.