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Changing identities in Ukraine? Lviv and Donetsk: 1994–2015


Ever since Ukraine gained independence in 1991, there have been reports as to whether its people have become more identified as Ukrainians. This only became more evident with the Orange Revolution in 2004 and again with the events following the Euromaidan in 2013, namely the war with Russia. Is Ukraine more Ukrainian than ever as one might expect from these seismic events? Theanswer depends on how you define identity and where and how you look for it. This research reveals identification levels in mostly Lviv and Donetsk from 1994 to 2015, years which cover the periods before and after both revolutions (Maidan in 2004 and Euromaidan in 2013) and the war with Russia. We find heightened identification over that period primarily in Lviv, but multiple identifications with Ukrainians and Russians in Donetsk. Including six major cities in 2015 indicates that Lviv is an anomaly in its strong Ukrainian identification and Donetsk likewise in its multiple identities. The other four cities (Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Dnipro) are much more moderate in their commitment to Ukraine and in some cases have stronger city identities. Social identity theory provides a framework for understanding these different responses as based in reactions to realistic and symbolic threat.

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