According to the Ukrainian-American political scientist Alexander Motyl, the Russian journalists, as well as "the Kremlin's propaganda machine", depict the Russian-speaking population in the Donbas region and Crimea as the aggrieved ethnic minority, who simply wanted greater autonomy and the right to their own culture and language, Joinfo.ua reports with reference to Huffington Post. In this light, the expert continues, "Kiev and ethnic Ukrainians are the victimizers, and the Donbas and its Russians are the victims." However, the analogy is absolutely false, the author says.
According to the analyst, Crimea has enjoyed the status of an autonomous republic since 1991. Kiev rarely interfered in the affairs of the peninsula and even "neglected the physical needs and civil and cultural rights of the peninsula's Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians." In addition, Donetsk and Luhansk "have also had de facto autonomy from Kiev" because "since the 1930s, they've been the bastions of Ukraine's Stalinist Communist Party, which remained highly influential until the revolution and war of 2013-2014."
Consequently, both Crimea and the Donbas "witnessed the absolute hegemony of Russian language and culture," Motyl writes. According to him, schools instruction and the media was largely in Russian. "Most residents viewed Ukrainian as a "foreign" tongue and viewed the hegemony of Russian as a perfectly natural state of affairs. A supremacist minority detested all things Ukrainian," Motyl says.
To understand the essence of Russo-Ukrainian relations, the author of Huffington Post suggests using the analogy of the civil war between North and South in the United States. Motyl believes that in the current conflict Russians are the white racists and reactionaries, and Ukrainians are the blacks.
During Viktor Yanukovych"s reign from 2010 to 2014 "Jim Crow's South" captured Kiev and began to extend its own norms to all of Ukraine. "Black" Ukrainians began to protest on Maidan. Then Yanukovych fought back – "with violence, intimidation and the equivalent of its Ku Klux Klan, the armed fanatics that eventually formed the core of the separatist armies," Motyl writes.
However, as the political scientist notes, the analogy with the United States breaks because of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine. "Russia"s presence in these regions ensures that they will remain as reactionary, intolerant and illiberal as they have always been," the journalist writes. Motyl mentions that if the Donbas retains the autonomy it has always had, it will remain a Jim Crow bastion that will prevent Ukraine from becoming a liberal democracy. "If Ukraine attempts to spread liberal values to the Donbas Deep South, the region's "white" elites and Ku Klux Klan will, once again, rebel. Moscow will claim that their rights are being violated by the Ukrainian racists and fascists in Kiev," the author sums up.