This blog is hosted on Ideas on EuropeIdeas on Europe Avatar

Ukraine's Europe

Inter-European dialogue, EU-Ukrainian relations

Latest

Regional application of the (in)security concept: a case study of Ukraine´s Transcarpathia region

Apart from protection from hostile forces, security also refers to a wide range of other issues, such as the absence of harm, the presence of an essential good, quality or conditions in which equitable and sustainable relationships can develop within political systems, institutions and states.

 

There are various hazards, faced by the Ukrainian state in the region of Transcarpathia (Zakarpattya), rich in cultures, ethnicities, political preferences and bordering Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The challenges of insuring constitutional order, prevention of separatism by co-opting and locking-in, surprisingly, could be done by promotion of neopatrimonial ties, clientalism, patronage and policies of controlled corruption and other informal mechanisms.

 

In the December 1991 referendum 78% of the region´s voters approved a proposal for Transcarpathian autonomy. Rather than employing force, the Ukrainian state exerted other kinds of control on local officials. Regional movements were defused through co-opting and brokeraging mechanisms, in which local politicians were included into the political networks with the center, whereby the voices demanding autonomy were stifled.

 

Dissatisfaction and high aspirations for separate identity recognition and redistribution of resources and power present obstacles for stability internationally and successful nation-building/consolidation domestically. Various political groups thus tend to vigorously compete for their right to influence the level of societal (in)security. Since 1991 Ukraine demonstrated an easily identifiable polarization along regional and cultural lines. These cleavages attained political dimension through regionally based political parties. This polarization often led the country to the brink of political confrontation. An examination of this regional case shows the importance of the actual control means in the ability to defuse separatist movements.

 

Regionalism is the constant factor in Ukrainian political life, and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. The country’s principal regional cleavages are result of a historically separate political development under heavy foreign domination. In this context, unconstitutional establishment of autonomy structures may inflame tensions and raise various hazards, as groups may mobilize different ethnicities around the issue. Furthermore, once an autonomous structure has been established, it can easily serve as an institutional foundation for separatist movements and inflate claims. Region´s elites advancing their own political careers may use autonomy as a vehicle for the mobilization of ethnicity, thus producing violent conflict.

 

Authoritarian governments often view autonomy claims as a zero-sum game, responding harshly and provoking further resistance. Violent conflict may also be more likely under authoritarian regimes because minority groups often fear that extreme action will be the only way to produce a response from such a government. More democratic regimes, however, are more likely to deal with demands more pragmatically, with a strategy resulting in non-violent compromise. In the state hierarchy, based on the Weberian legacy, the center is stronger than the periphery and commands the local agents, who entertain control on the exercise of power in the region. The exceptions to this model may include the situation, where local actors hold stronger de facto control, often by informal means.

 

Ukraine´ state leadership successfully exercised informal mechanisms of control in relation to the periphery. It allowed and even encouraged corruption by local elites. But the state also collected information on illicit activities of local elites and carefully stored it. When directives from the center were given to local elites for implementation, the locals had nothing but to comply in order to avoid criminal prosecution.  Another means of control was the promise of jobs and positions to individuals who support central policies of elites. These types of patronage control are quite effective and inexpensive, compared to direct coercion.

 

Hub-and-spoke pattern of a network with little connection between subunits is a more effective way of control, compared with other. This type of structure balanced the power in favour of the center, as regional actors had to go through the center in order to communicate with each other, and “blackmail state” could effectively forbid collusion between regional actors.

 

The elite that emerged in independent Ukraine came out of the old Soviet-era nomenklatura bred in a neo-patrimonial culture. Thus in Ukraine emerged the system of party of power, characterised by dependence on state, rather formal ideology, barely realized in practice, and strong linkage to specific interest groups, who increasingly took control of political power. The parties were not meant to become autonomous political forces in their own right, but were utilised by the center. They also served the regime in upholding a network of patronage relationships with the major socio-political, economic and administrative actors.  At the same time Ukraine has not managed to achieve a level of national consolidation where regional and national identities could be complementary rather than competitive.

Alexander Svetlov

 

Comments Off on Regional application of the (in)security concept: a case study of Ukraine´s Transcarpathia region

Recent Articles

The Berlin Wall put in context

Published on by | Comments Off on The Berlin Wall put in context

The Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961 to separate East and West Berlin during the Cold War, is a cause and consequence of a plethora of historical events and processes. It is also a symbol for artificial separation of peoples and ideas behind artificially created borders. In this respect it can serve as a perfect proxy, which allows […]

The East-West history discourses in the Berlin´s context

Published on by | Comments Off on The East-West history discourses in the Berlin´s context

Berlin, as a site and a backdrop of many epochal events, used to play a central role during the East-West confrontations in the 20th century. Nowadays the city turned into coulisse for many historical events, commemorations and discourses. As the past conditions our present, Berlin as a spot is also seen pertinent to the generally and […]

Euromaidan as EU-popularizer II

Published on by | Comments Off on Euromaidan as EU-popularizer II

Quest for Europe and street art.   “I am here because I do care” “Your choice makes the difference!”     A barricade on the avenue down to Maidan, on which some weeks later dozens of unarmed activists were shot dead from small distance.     A symbolic barricade against the backdrop of the hotel […]

Euromaidan as EU-popularizer

Published on by | Comments Off on Euromaidan as EU-popularizer

The main ideological impulse, indeed, a driver for public protest on Kyiv´s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in late 2013 – early 2014 was the idea that Ukraine should be part of Europe, as opposed to the Russia-led Customs Union. Preceded by the Revolution on Granite of 1990 and the Orange Revolution of 2004, it rightfully […]

Transitional Justice: some thoughts

Published on by | Comments Off on Transitional Justice: some thoughts

The case of Ukraine suggests that the post-conflict tensions have not been alleviated after numerous political fractures, moreover, they were aggravated by the absence of concerted measures aimed at general and specific features of this post-totalitarian country. As a result, the perpetration of further crimes could not be deterred after gaining independence. The absence of […]

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as an agent of national emancipation? Some directions for future inquiry.

Published on by | Comments Off on The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as an agent of national emancipation? Some directions for future inquiry.

The interplay between political and religious spheres before and after 1918 in electoral processes of nowadays Western Ukraine, which was a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire, is a fascinating topic. The relationships between religious and legal-political institutions, as well as important societal cleavages, based on region, ethnicity and political preferences in Galicia were not sufficiently attended […]

The post – Crimean world: Russia´s annexation and its consequences.

Published on by | Comments Off on The post – Crimean world: Russia´s annexation and its consequences.

I would like to take a look at the factual and legal aspects of Russia´s aggression against Ukraine´s territorial integrity in early 2014. Indeed, to what extent has the international law been violated and what are the consequences?   In February 2014 Russian authorities used the internal political conflict in Ukraine to deprive the Ukrainian […]

International relations reconsidered: Accession of the EU to Ukraine – a 2030 scenario?

Published on by | Comments Off on International relations reconsidered: Accession of the EU to Ukraine – a 2030 scenario?

This fictional story, which can potentially materialize, is to be pondered about, given the current oncoming of apparently uncertain times in the global politics. This is a scenario of how, for the sake of progress and stability, the EU should avoid the political and territorial division of the European continent and ongoing divisions into the […]

UACES and Ideas on Europe do not take responsibility for opinions expressed in articles on blogs hosted on Ideas on Europe. All opinions are those of the contributing authors.