Philip S. Gillette


This paper tackles three questions. First, is Russian-oriented political mobilization, such as that which has already appeared in the Crimea1, likely to spread to other areas of Ukraine, and if so, in which areas will this occur? Secondly, what demands will such a political movement be likely to make and what are the probable outcomes of these demands? Finally, what polisy measures exist that, if adopted in Ukraine, could increase the probability of peaceful settlement of differences among the directly concerned groups?

In attempting any analysis, it is desirable (though not always practical) to employ existing concepts of social and political science. In this care, one should attempt this cautiously, for Ukraine fits completely neither "developing nation-bulding state" (most examples are of Third World coutries) nor the category "developed old state" (most examples are from western Europe).

Nevertheless, Russian-oriented political mobilization in Ukraine can be conceptualized as a type of "ethnoregionalism". The latter term may be defined an increase in political activity of a regionally-based minority ethnic group within a state in pursuit of goals that may change over time and typically range from minimalist goals like greater opportunities for cultural expression to maximalist goals like political separatism.2 Moreover, one must make choices working within the vocabulary of social science. Thus, "ethnoregionalism" with its stress on regionalism is chosen over "ethnolinguistic movement"3 with its emphasis on linguistic aspects. Similarly, ethnoregionalism is employed rather that "national-separatist movement",4 with its stress on the demand for political separation, which usually implies the ultimate goal of achieving political independence (e.g., Slovenia from Yugoslavia) or political union with another state (e.g., Moldovians with Romania) or with peoples and territories belonging to one or more other states (e.g., Kurds). As a result, in this paper linguistic characterise tics and separatist demands are treated as attributes of ethnoregionalism that may vary in their incidence and significance.

As for the probability of the spread in Ukraine of Russian ethnoregionalism, one may begin with an analysis of objective factors revealed in demographic data. Using the 1989 USSR census, one can isolate three key factors: spatial concentration, Russian ethnicity (narodnisf), and Russian language. An assumption generally supported in scholarly literature is that ethnoregionalism is more likely to be strong when minority ethnic or ethnolinguistic groups are settled compactly on a territory. The oblast is basic territorial unit of spatial concentration employed in this study, although Ukraine's oblasts may be further grouped into regions using AreaPs5 unconventional definition of regions (see Table 1 and Fig. 1-5).

A look at the distribution of the Russian ethnic population as a proportion of the total population (Fig. 3) shows that this population group is most prominent in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions [in this paper Kyiv City is ignored due to its special features]6. Incidentally, the eastern and southern regions are also the most populous (Fig. 1) and urbanized (Fig, 2). Basing oneself solely on the spatial concentration of the Russian ethnic population, the above results suggest that the probability of Russian ethnoregionalism in Ukraine is highest in these two regions. Furthermore, in the southern region, the leading candidate would be the Crimean Republic (67% ethnic Russian), which is also characterized by unique features. Outstanding in the eastern region are the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, where the ethnic Russians are 44 and 45 percent, respectively (Table 3).

It is also worth looking at the spatial concentration of the population using the Russian language, a factor considered by some scholars to be even more important than ethnicity'. As a surrogate for the population whose primary language of communication is Russian, this study uses the population claiming in the 1989 census that their mother tongue was Russian. Although controversial, the author knows of no more reliable or recent data. The census reveals, not surprisingly, that athnic Russians overwhelmingly claim Russian as their mother tongue (Table 1). Furthermore, the proportion of non-Russians speaking Rus sian as their primary language of communication is highest in the eastern and southern regions (Fig. 4 ). As a consequence, the percentage of the population using Russian as their primary language of communication is also greatest in the eastern (54%) and southern regions (38%) — see Table 1 and Figure 5. On the basis of linguistic concentra tion alone, one might hypothesize that Russian ethnoregionalism would be most likely to occur in Ukraine in these two regions. Moreover, one would look especially in the southern region at the Crimean Republic (81%) and in the eastern region at Donetsk (67%) and Luhansk (63%) oblasts.

Insofar as primary language of communication may be an important indicator of potential for Russian ethnoregionalism in Ukraine, it is worthwhile noting that the above pattern of spatial concentration is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, barring massive population migration. The proportion of day school pupils attending Russian-language schools during 1991-92 supports this conclusion. The ' proportion of pupils in Russian-language schools in southern and eastern Ukrainian oblasts was generally from 20 to 30% higher than the proportion of the population speaking Russian as their primary language.Furthermore, in the Crimean Republic 99.96% of all pupils were in Russian schools, while in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts the proportions were 93 and 97%, respectively (Table 1).

By the time this analysis is published the question of the probability of the spread of ethnoregionalism may have become moot. For example, in September 1992 the Coordinating Council of the Republican Movement of the Crimea [CRM] dissolved the CRM in light of the recent adoption of a new constitution for the Crimean Republic, but announced the planned creation of a society called the "Russian-Speaking Movement of the Crimea", whose aim would be to receive citizenship of the Russian Federation for residents of the Crimea8. Also that month, the Independent Trade Union of Donetsk Mineworkers put forward demands for a federative structure in Ukraine9. In October 1992 a meeting in Donetsk of the Civic Congress of Ukraine attended by representatives of 18 oblasts adopted resolutions including demands for a federative set-up and the introduction of two official languages, Russian and Ukrainian10. Later that month the Liberal Party, also meeting in Donetsk, declared that it was seeking a federal "land" structure for Ukraine11. The ultimate strength of Russian ethnoregionalism, the nature of its demands, and the outcome of these demands will depend on many other factors, both objective and subjective, about which one may hazard a few statements. The fact that many Russians know Ukrainian as a second language and the fact that Ukraine's laws prohibit regional political parties probably will not prevent Russian ethnoregionalism from developing. Factors primarily located within Ukraine that could influence the incidence and course of this phenomenon may include: economic performance (improving or worsening), degree of democratization (elitist or popular), discrimination according to ethnicity (non-discriminatory or discriminatory practices), and discrimination based on language (facilitating or restricting Russian).

In addition, an important factor outside Ukraine is what policies Russia will adopt toward Ukraine. The recent Ukraine-Russian "cold war" over the Crimea demonstrated that elements in the Russian federation might support maximalist forms of Russian ethnoregionalism in Ukraine in the future12. Under the circumstances, it? would seem advisable for Ukraine to vigorously seek ways to bring about the peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes with Russia while, at the same time, making it clear that any manifestations of Russian imperialism against Ukraine will not be tolerated.

Experience with other instances of ethnoregionalism argues that its demands tend to vary over time, and the emergence of ethnoregionalism does not inevitable lead to political separation, massive authoritarian repression, or bloody civil war.13 In avoiding these outcomes, a key element will be attempts on the part of Ukrainian leaders to build a sense of common citizenship through a process of nation-building not based on languare or ethnicity. A variable that deserves research over time is the extent to which the Russian ethnic population and the

Russian-speaking population of Ukraine consider themselves to be Ukrainians first. Significantly, in successful multi-ethnic and multilingual countries like Switzerland, the proportion of the French and German ethnic population considering themselves Swiss first has risen recent years.14

Roman Szporluk, who puts forward the concept of "social contract" to buttress an inclusive concept of Ukrainian citizenship, emphasizes in a recent article the importance of policies permitting Russians to continue to use the Russian language.15 However, scholarship suggests that peaceful resolution of problems associated with Russian ethnore-gionalism will require efforts by Ukrainian leaders going far beyond the adoption of correct policies.

What might have a chance of success is the adoption by Ukraine of a consociation structure of government. The conditions for consociation include: (1) the existence of a number of insulated groups in society with relatively few crosscutting cleavages, and authority within the state segmented in relation to such groups; (2) the state is dominated by a "cartel of elites" whereby major decisions are the product of agreements and coalitions among the members of that cartel; (3) all political elites have the right of veto over decisions of which they disapprove (i.e., the majoritarian principle is suspended in favor of the requirement of consensus), and (4) there is a law of proportionality involving proportionate representation of various segments in the population among the major institutions, the bureaucracy, and legal systems, etc.16 Such a system, characteristic of segmented societies like Switzerland and the Netherlands, is to be distinguished from culturally uniform federal systems operating under the majoritarian principle like the United States and Germany. It took Switzerland centuries to achieve consociationalism. Nevertheless, Ukraine might profit from adopting consociationalism in its new constitution.


1 For a discussion of the ethnoregional Republican Movement of the Crimea, see Roman Solchanyk, "The Crimean Imbroglio: Kiev and Simferopol, " RFE/ RL Research Report, vol. 1, no. 33 (21 Aug. 1992): pp. 13-16.

2 Definition adapted from Margaret Levi and Michael Hechter, "A Rational Choice Approach to the Rise and Decline of Ethnoregional Political Parties," in New Nationalisms of the Developed West, ed. Edward A. Tiryakian and Ronald Rogowski (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1985), pp. 128-46.

3 Bud B. Khleif, "Issues of Theory and Methodology in the Study of Eth-nolinguistic Movements," in New Nationalisms, ed. Tiryakian and Rogowski, pp. 176-99.

4 National-separatist movements are treated as a specific type of nationalist movement in John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).

5 Dominique Arel, "The Parliamentary Blocs in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet: Who and What Do They Represent? Journal of Soviet Nationalities vol. 1, no. 4 (Winterl990-1991), pp. 108-54.

6 This treatment of Kyyiv City follows Arel. Ibid.

7 See John Edwards, Lanquage, Society and Identity (Oxford: Basil Black-well, 1985), pp. 23,37.

8 INTERFAX, Moscow, 27 Sept. 1992, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service [FBIS), Daily Report, 29 Sept. 1992, p. 33.

9 Nezavisimaya gazeta, Moscow, 16 Sept. 1992, in FBIS, Daily Report, 16 Sept. 1992, p. 36.

10 INTERFAX, Moscow, 5 Oct. 1992, in FBIS, Daily Report, 6 Oct. 1992, p. 43.

11 Ostankino Television First Program, Moscow, 17 Oct. 1992, in FBIS, Daily Report, 19 Oct. 1992, p. 19.

12 Roman Solchanyk, "The Crimean Imbroglio: Kiev and Moscow", RFE/ RL Research Report, vol. 1, no. 40 (9 Oct. 1992), pp. 6-10.

13 See cases in New Nationalisms, ed. Tiryakian and Rogowski.

14 Jurg Steiner, Amicable Agreement versus Majority Rule: Conflict Resolution in Switzerland (rev. and enlarged ed.; Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1974).

15 Roman Szporluk, "Ukraine's Independence and the New Social Covenant," The Ukrainian Weekly, 23 Aug. 1992, pp. 3, 14.

16 Recapitulated in Paul Taylor, "The European Community and the State: Assumptions, Theories, and Propositions," Review of International Studies (London), 1991, pp. 109-33.