Centre-periphery Cleavage in Ukraine
Once the former USSR collapsed, countries like Ukraine have construed their own collective identity aiming to differentiate them from internal and external “others” in a nation building process. New territorial boundaries have been established over the mental ones, founding myths and heroes have been recovered or reinstated. This process looked successful for a while until a census unveiled a center-periphery cleavage formation. Meanwhile, Kiev’s centralizing policy had to face upheaval in the eastern part, and conflict is ongoing. Scholars have speculated mostly over ethnic and historical factors as well as Russia’s active involvement as main reasons for the shift in identity self-referencing of Donbas region’s inhabitants. This paper aims at examining this center-periphery cleavage formation from another standpoint: an internal political struggle between two regional clans that are still controlling the resources and hence hold political power in the so-called Donbas region from Eastern Ukraine. Without minimizing the influence of historical and ethnic factors, we posit that many eastern Ukrainians’ choice for identity self-referencing had shifted when their region started to decrease in terms of economic and political power on the central level. And the Donbas clans losing the central power control over fighting each other is along with historical and ethnic factors one of the main reasons for that.
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