The sudden refusal by President Viktor Yanukovych on Nov. 21 to sign a far-reaching association agreement with the European Union, and his subsequent turn towards Russia, was the spark
that ignited the massive protests. All
polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of the Ukrainian people want a
European direction for the future.
Students and the young
educated generation erupted in protest first. Yanukovych does not understand
that this generation is different from previous ones. This generation is the
product of an education that provided access to the world’s knowledge, and
opportunities to study and travel abroad. This generation is integrated with
the freedom and open communication offered by technology and social media, one
that brings Ukraine into the world community.
This generation identifies
with the West more than they do with Russia. This is critical to understand.
Not only did the students react to the loss of political and economic opportunities
when Yanukovych refused to sign the association agreement, but they also reject
the claim that Russia is closer to them. They do not identify with Russia. They identify with an integrated world