Ishchenko: The positive side of Zelensky is that he has offset the political contradictions between pro-Russian and pro-Europe

PONARS Eurasia
25 Jul 2019

(FP) Ukraine—“Things here often start with great hopes and end in great disappointments. But this time, I get the impression things could change,” said Nikolai Savitsky, a 54-year-old businessman, outside a polling station in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday evening. A few hours later, at the campaign headquarters of the Servant of the People party, the first exit polls from parliamentary elections were greeted with popping champagne corks. This young party won well over half the 424 seats up for grabs in the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament. It now forms Ukraine’s first-ever ruling majority. [...]

“These are contradictory people. There are militant patriots who categorically oppose any reconciliation with Russia, and there are soft pro-Russians who support reconciliation with Moscow. As a friend of mine put it, there are people who will defend a monument to Gen. [Georgy] Zhukov in Kharkiv, and there are those who will attend LGBT parades,” Fesenko said, referring to the Soviet marshal who commanded Red Army forces in World War II. Zelensky and the party have kept a distance from any controversies about the role of Soviet history or the Ukrainian language in public life, two old sticking points in Ukrainian politics. “The positive side of Zelensky is that he has offset the political contradictions between pro-Russian and pro-Europe, between Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking,” the sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko said. [...]

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