The cowardly collapse of Viktor Yanukovych's legitimate government and the triumph of the violent, bloodthirsty neo-nazi-dominated revolutionaries may spell the last throes of modern Ukraine. After all, it is an artificial, amorphous country, created by Lenin, Stalin, and Khruschev and doomed to failure and fragmentation.
As I've described at length exactly four years ago, after Yanukovych's victory in the presidential elections (a victory recognized as fair and legitimate by the EU, OSCE, and the State Department), Ukraine is essentially three countries. The Western part is roughly equivalent to Galicia and Volhynia. Western Ukrainians (known as zapadentzi) are the main force behind the Brown Revolution and the neo-nazi "Svoboda" party of Oleh Tyahnybok draws its main support from the west Ukrainian areas around Lviv (Lemberg/Lvov) and Ivano-Frankivsk.
The eastern part of the country is where Yanukovych hails from and draws his support (or whatever is left of it). Although many eastern Ukrainians don't consider themselves Russian (largely as a result of the brutal Ukrainization policies of the Soviet communists), they all speak the Russian language and clamor for closer ties with Russia. The Bolsheviks forcibly joined southeastern Ukraine, including the coal/industrial powerhouse of Donbass (Yanukovych's home region) to the newly-founded Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Other swathes of today's Ukraine were taken from Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Finally, there's the Crimean Peninsula—an area that is majority ethnic Russian and was snatched away from Russia by the bumbling Nikita Khrushchev and joined to communist Ukraine in 1954. Home to both the strategically important Sevastopol naval base and a sizable Crimean Tatar Muslim minority, Crimea seems to be taking serious steps on the road to secession. And who can blame them: from Kiev westwards, Ukraine is dominated by the bloodthirsty skinheads of "Svoboda" and various related groupings.
The most brutal and effective of the west Ukrainian skinhead bands is "Right Sector". Its militants, some of whom spilled Russian blood in Chechnya fighting alongside Islamic terrorists, were at the forefront of the street battles in Kiev that resulted in the ignoble collapse of the hapless Yanukovych. A member of "Right Sector" gave a candid interview to a Russian journalist. The skinhead called for a forcible Ukrainization, the summary execution of all corrupt officials (read: all eastern Ukrainian officials who are allies of Yanukovych), and the "liberation of Ukrainian lands". And what are these "Ukrainian lands"? The Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod, and Kuban regions of Russia! Finally, the "Right Sector" activist had this to say about Russians: "Let them go the f*** back to Russia! And if they don't want to, we can help them. Russians are not even Slavs, but Tatars and Ugro-Finns". The rabid radicals of "Right Sector" were approvingly written up by the NYT and fawned over by Steve Sailer.
Ironically, the militants who are the driving force behind the Brown Revolution, come from regions which are the most poor and rural in all of Ukraine. The west of the country has for decades depended on the hated "Muscovites" and the eastern Ukrainians for natural resources and industry. Thousands of Galicians and Volhynians also travel abroad as gastarbeiters. One wonders how many of the brown revolutionaries came back from jobs as construction workers and janitors in Poland and the Czech Republic in order to overthrow Yanukovych. Shooting police officers and torching buildings is after all, more exciting than cleaning toilets in Prague and Warsaw.
Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.