Saturday 25 March 2017, 03:51

Ukrainian Institute
of Research of Extremism

Summary of the study “Extremism in Ukraine 2015- 2016″


Please, be aware that it is only summary of the study “Extremism in Ukraine 2015- 2016″ full version see in Ukrainian.

The situation in the Ukrainian society still remains vulnerable to external influence: among the main impulses is the direct threat of military intervention as well as the end to financial and other assistance from the West. Indirect threats include moving of the Ukrainian problems to the background on the world agenda and the appearing of new “hot spots” on the Ukrainian border. The last ones (in particular, the potential reelections in Moldova) allow Russia indirectly influence the internal situation in Ukraine (especially it refers to a safe environment in the Odessa region) without the threat of sanction prolongation for an aggressor-country.

New issues of confrontation in the world are inevitable because:

a) violence as a means of solving problems is being nowadays popularized;

b) some global actors remain interested in provoking new conflicts as well as in getting other countries to be involved in those.

Regarding the internal situation in Ukraine, the global attention is attracted by the changing tendency to spreading violence. When in 2014 there was diffusion (spreading violence), then the year 2015 changed its tendency to systematization (consolidation). It is predicted that in 2016 the number of terrorist acts may partially decline. On the other hand, the resonance from committing terrorism may increase, – hybrid wars require that in the first place: the need of further fragmentation (atomization) of a society, the evolving inability to its mobilization and spreading of panic disorder and distrust (to all: starting from a neighbor to the government) in public opinion.

It is important that through such actions “Normalization of fear” is imposed on the whole society. But if for passive majority such normalization stimulates inactivity, then for minority it is more like a challenge, motivation for even more violent actions in order to defend their rights.

The main objects of terrorist attacks, due to the conception of a hybrid war, are pro-Russian politicians, Russian economic structures on the Ukrainian territory, other organizations and formations that do not have support in Ukrainian society (for example, representatives of different kinds of minorities). Such crimes will not unite a society to increase the role of police, they rather create a “picture” for the Russian media and at the same time they strengthen the panic mood in public opinion.

Thus, the threat of terrorist and subversive acts continues to be the leading phobia and the first issue on the agenda in a society.

Public opinion also doesn`t allow to integrate state policy. As a rule, none of the prospective government decisions is supported by the majority of the population. And in a similar way there is no clear answer for solving the most important and relevant issues, like the strategies to return the annexed Crimean Peninsula and the occupied territory of Donbas. Thus, more than two-fifths prefer peace negotiations, whereas there is no widely accepted method for regulating these issues for the most people. It proves that the Russian separatist military intervention that lasts more than a year and a half couldn`t create the long-term effect of unity in a society. Considering the impact of public opinion on politicians and widespread rumors about the off-year elections, the lack of common public opinion will affect the behavior of the state leaders. That is why a strategic choice between war and peace will not be probably made soon. So there is a high probability that the situation in the Donbas region will be frozen exactly because of prevailing uncertainty in the population. Moreover, even at the regulatory level Ukraine and Russia admit that military actions in Donbas are more a strategic problem. In other words, the solution of it will require long-term program.

In order to prevent this situation Strategy of reconstruction of the territorial integrity should be presented. It should become a roadmap not only for politicians but also for widespread tendencies in a public opinion (that means support of a majority). Furthermore, this strategy will be a signal to the citizens of Ukraine who are forced to live on the occupied territories. They have to understand what to expect after the returning of the Ukrainian government. This will evoke not only patriotic feelings, but also a sense of confidence in their own state.

Currently the polarity of public opinion just encourages government officials and deputies to make populist decisions that can only deepen the crisis in the country and in a society.

The popularization of violent methods to stimulate political decisions as well as the systematization of the aggressive acts will contribute, in our opinion, to the fact that not only some politicians will create their image using the concept “violence for the public good”, but it can also lead to the formation of deideologized (centrist) political force which will focus on the voters with aggressive intentions.

During 2016 Russia will intentionally create other collision issues that would distract the public attention in Russia from the failure to establish the so-called “Russian peace” in Ukraine and from economic problems within the Russian Federation. Moreover, such hot spots would distract the attention of an international community from other problems in the Russia`s area of interests. Solving the problems that were artificially made up by Russia itself would lead to increasing its influence while decreasing its demonization.

A further full-scale Russian intervention in Ukraine is nowadays hardly probable. Firstly, it is economically weak, secondly its attention is also turned to a number of “symbolic enemies”: Turkey, IS and Syrian rebels, NATO enlargement, and thirdly particularly because of aggression towards Ukraine, Russia received these sanctions. At the same time the potential risk of intervention is kept, but to open new fronts is dangerous for any country, especially for one economically weak.

Moreover, special services within Russia can be activated to search for internal enemies, to intimidate the population and to demobilize its protest moods. It is a big threat to Ukraine, which will result in the ever-increasing flow of refugees from Russia, from the occupied parts of Donbas and Crimea.

Meanwhile, the hybrid war against Ukraine will continue with the purpose of provoking further internal conflicts in Ukraine (in political, economic and humanitarian spheres). At the same time such complicated social and economic situation will bring to conflicts in other areas of life, including increase of the crimes and domestic conflicts.

An important risk for further conflicts in Ukraine is the lack of the system cooperation with the demobilized fighters. A bloody war life definitely changes people`s values ​​and attitudes. On the one hand, ex-soldiers have to feel that they are in demand in post-war Ukraine (effective employment system, social protection). On the other hand, the long-term state program of psychological rehabilitation should be worked out, which would eradicate aggressive intentions of ex-soldiers. In other words, the life of demobilized people must be filled with positive sense.

Another important conclusion: the decrease of aggression rate in society depends on the effectiveness in overcoming polarized thinking. First of all, it is about myths that divide the population on both sides of this conflict. Those about gangster Donbas, about the complete support of the separatists among the local people, on the one hand, and those about fascists, junta and the radical nationalism and the pursuit of Russian-speaking population in Ukraine – on the other hand. Exactly these myths, which are enforced by bloody war events, divide the population.

In any case, the return of the territories implies the open dialogue with civilians, who were systematically kept under the manipulative influence of myths. This dialogue will take place under any circumstances: whether a military approach to the return of territories is applied, or through a peaceful way of reintegration. Even the “Croatian variant “, which is now popular among the” hawks “of Ukrainian politicians, implied compromises with the Serbian population on the liberated territories in Croatia.

An important task for the government in 2016 and for the upcoming years will be the seizing of the illegal firearms in population. This will be one of the most significant steps to form a secure environment. If no real measures from the government are taken in the nearest future, a lot of weapons, especially those ones that are now in the hands of passive majority will get soon in the hands of criminal gangs and “private armies” (active minority). Therefore, the threats of taking extreme measures to chaotic acts of violence are increasingly getting intentional and resonant meaning (quantity transforms into quality).

During the increase of the aggression a society is sensitive to the facts of irresponsibility and, of course, on a psychological level it needs satisfaction. Therefore, bringing to responsibility of those who are guilty for the state and public security violations, – is also among the first issues on the agenda.

It is worth mentioning several events that will be crucial for the internal situation in Ukraine.

 1. Potential elections on the occupied territories of Donbas. According to the latest data, the elections are to be held in April 2016. Because of the certain protests that are now taking place on the territory of the DIR and the LIR, the separatist support rating is steadily reducing. Therefore, there is a high probability that not only zombieing of local people with myths about Ukrainian threat will be continued for internal total consumption. But also for the ensuring of making the “right” choice armed provocations against the Armed Forces of Ukraine will increase, even active hostilities might start again, and there might be further terrorist acts both on free and on the occupied territory of Ukraine (for the last ones pro-Ukrainian forces will be probably accused).

 2. There is a risk of escalation in the internal politics of Ukraine (there is the threat of terrorist attacks as well) and before a consultative referendum in the Netherlands that will take place on 6 April. These escalations will not be related to the situation in Donbas, they will rather refer to an internal political situation – sharpening conflicts among the elites, between population and government.

 3. On September 18, 2016 elections to the State Duma of Russia will be held. Taking into account the lack of economic prospects as well as the failure of improving of the social conditions of Russians, “hate speech” is likely to be intensified against those nations, who are  negatively taken in a society. It might be as well that victories on the external front should be needed to increase the rating of the ruling party. Among the risks – the further military escalation in Donbas and the “liberation from the junta” of a number of communities. In this sense there might be the escalation of the protests on the territories controlled by Ukraine. The highest risks exist there for such cities like Kharkiv, Odesa, Kyiv and Mariupol.

 4. In November 2016 US presidential elections will take place, the results of which will be very important for Ukraine. Firstly, Republicans are more radical than the Democrats in the issue of assistance to Ukraine (including providing Ukraine with the lethal weapons) and tougher in measures towards Russia. In its turn Democrats support the reorientation of the foreign policy from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region. Secondly, during the election campaign Democrats and Republicans might support various competing political parties in Ukraine. In this context the internal political conflicts in our country may even increase, the public manifestations of which had been already observed at the end of 2015.

 5. It is difficult to predict the possibility of early parliamentary election in Ukraine. It should be emphasized, however, that any political activity involving great masses of population stimulates also the increase of extremism in a society. Especially when it comes to forming state authorities.

 6. Meetings of the international format to implement the Minsk agreements.

Traditionally, before such meetings the Russian separatist forces increase their activity, including the number of provocations.

Difficult for domestic politics is the total demonization of the enemy and the attributing the blame for all problems to a “hand of Moscow”. This demobilize the political leadership during the process of implementing reforms in Ukraine – as any drawback can always be attributed to an impact of Russian agents. Thus the implementation of any reforms is complicated. The lack of effectiveness of policies is often replaced with their efficiency. This in turn creates reasons for conflicts between “fighters against corruption,” “heroes,” “hopes of the nation.” In the same way the public distrust to the most authorities is increased.