Media across the world have expressed outrage and concern over violence in Ukraine. University of Oklahoma political scientist Paul Goode says competing narratives in the Western and Russian press don’t accurately capture what has been happening on the ground not just in Kiev, but throughout all of Ukraine.
“The Western media is very captured by the notion that this is a protest between Ukraine leaning towards Russia or leaning towards the EU,” Goode says. “It sort of fits within this Cold War-trope that has been persistent for the last 20 years.”
But Goode says the Russian media and government are framing current events as radical attempts to overthrow a legitimate government, evoking Russia’s memory of the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Goode says Russian intervention is unlikely unless stability in the Crimea, located in eastern Ukraine, is threatened.
Although the media’s attention remains focused on Kiev, Goode says waves of protests have been occurring through Western and Central Ukraine as citizen protesters, mayors, and even elite special services forces defer to oppose the ruling party under current president Viktor Yanukovych.
As Ukraine begins to reach an agreement that limits presidential powers, grants amnesty to protesters, and calls for new presidential elections, Goode says any agreements and concessions “will be greeted with a great deal of distrust” and require external mediation.
Despite the recent agreement, protesters angry over police violence show no signs of abandoning their camp in central Kiev and the mood remains tense.
“There will be arguments over who should be the external mediators, the degree to which Russia will be involved… the degree to which the European Union will be involved,” Goode says. “Once you get beyond the common platform of opposing Yanukovych, accommodating diverse agendas is going to be extremely difficult. It definitely does not end soon.”
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