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February 27, 2014

Crimeans split over support for new Ukrainian government

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Following the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych after weeks of violent protest in Kiev, proposed new Ukrainian leaders were introduced to demonstrators yesterday. However, that was overshadowed by mounting concerns over Russian military moves across the border.

The protests started after the Ukrainian president rejected a deal that would have created closer ties with the European Union. Instead, President Viktor Yanukovych strengthened its relationship with Russia, angering those within the country who think Ukraine should break ties with its old Soviet partners and take steps to end rampant corruption in all levels of society.

While the protests may be over in Kiev, the repercussions are still being felt across Ukraine. On the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, ethnic Tatars are delighted about the new authorities, but the majority ethnic Russians are spoiling for a fight. Many of them would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine altogether.

In Crimea, the Tatars were determined to stop a parliamentary debate on secession. Scuffles broke out between the pro-Russian supporters and anti-Russian Tatars.

Across the border, the Russians announced emergency military exercises. They made no mention of Ukraine, but didn’t need to. The drills were in the region nearest their embattled neighbor. And the message to the new government in Kiev was clear: Don’t mess with Russia.

In Kiev, they gathered in the central square, scene of three months of protests, to talk about the new government, a new future. But here in Crimea, the trouble has only just begun.


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Ukraine?
  2. What do you know about what’s going on in Ukraine right now?
  3. What kinds of difficulties may arise between ethnicities and political factions that disagree but live closely together?
Discussion questions
  1. Outline the important events that have taken place in the last month in Kiev, Ukraine.
  2. Who are the key players in the events and what goals do they want to achieve?
  3. How might the events in Kiev have influenced the new protests in Crimea?
  4. What message do you think Russia is trying to send by practicing military exercises so close to Ukraine?
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