SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP/WMOT) — A mid-state researcher who specializes in the former Soviet States is not optimistic about Ukraine’s chances of forming a stable democracy in the short-term.
Professor Andrei Korobkov directs the Russian Studies program at Middle Tennessee State University. He notes that Ukraine is badly fractured along ethnic lines.
“Ukraine right now has about 47 million population. More than 10 million of those are ethnic Russians, and the remainder is divided between Easterners and Westerners.”
Ethnic Russians dominate the eastern half of the country and want closer ties with Russia, while Western Ukrainians identify more closely with Europe. Dr. Korobkov says that, so far, the two groups have shown little interest in compromise.
“At this point, neither the East nor the West - which has won recently - is showing any desire to take into account the other half of the country.
An incident earlier today illustrates the divide. The Associated Press says at least 20 people were injured in clashes between pro- and anti-Russian protesters in Ukraine's Crimea region.
About 20,000 people rallied in support of Ukraine's interim government, while a smaller pro-Russian group called for stronger ties with Russia. The protesters shouted and attacked each other with stones, bottles and punches.