Maidan and After

State of the Ukrainian Left

In the two years since Maidan, Ukraine’s nonparliamentary left has gone from infantilism to confusion to disarray to, finally, an attempt to research and analyze the current situation.

I work at the Center for Social and Labor Research in Kyiv, a small, nonprofit research center founded by a group of sociologists, economists, and political scientists in early 2013 to investigate socioeconomic problems in Ukraine. On the morning of November 21, 2013, when Viktor Yanukovych’s prime minister, Nikolai Azarov, announced that his government was not going to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, I sent out a press release about our findings that worker protests and strikes were on the rise in Ukraine. We are a small organization, well outside the political mainstream, and we do not expect our press releases to garner national attention, but this one drew even less attention than usual. The news cycle for the next few days focused on the protesters on Maidan and their demands that the government sign the Association Agreement with the EU.

At the time, we at the center were just beginning to analyze the conditions of the agreement. We were, overall, more critical than not of the agreement’s demands for changes in Ukraine’s labor and industry protections. At the same time, we more than welcomed the Maidan protesters’ demands for an end to corruption and oligarchic rule.

That evening I went out into the square. I brought with me a poster I had made at home: I had painted the gold stars of the EU on a red background, to say that the only European union I wanted to join was a socialist one—one that offered membership on less humiliating terms than those currently being proposed to my country.

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