Mapping Ukraine’s identity crisis

by February 27, 2014 8:21PM ET
Ousted President Yanukovich enjoys the most support in the largely Russian-speaking southern and eastern regions
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International
Ukraine
Ukraine Crisis

As Ukraine struggles to rebuild after removing President Viktor Yanukovich from power, some regions of the country are still trying to make sense of the aftermath.

In the eastern and southern areas of Ukraine, Russian has been adopted as the official language of some regions, supplanting Ukrainian.

Although loyalties in those areas are nuanced, the pro-Russia Yanukovich is popular with many, which helped him win the 2010 presidential elections.

Of all the regions of Ukraine, Crimea and the city of Sevastopol have the largest Russian-speaking populations — 77 percent of residents there identified their native language as Russian, following closely by Donetsk at 74.9 percent and Luhansk at 68.8 percent. Yet both Donetsk and Luhansk are less than 39 percent ethnically Russian. Russian is least spoken in the western region of Ternopil, where only 1.2 percent said that it was their native language.

During the second round of the 2010 presidential elections, Yanukovich's rival Yulia Tymoshenko took a majority of the votes in 16 of the 26 provinces, coming in at 45.47 percent of the votes. The region of Lviv contributed the most to that total, providing Tymoshenko with 5.15 percent of the votes. The region in which she received the least votes — only 0.09 percent — was in the city of Sevastopol, one of the areas comprising the vanguard of Yanukovich's power base.

Though Yanukovich received more votes than Tymoshenko in only 10 of the 26 regions, those regions tended to be more populous. Out of the 48.95 percent total votes that elected him to the presidency, the region of Donetsk provided nearly 10 percent of that total, where over 90 percent of the population supported him. Yanukovich received the least support in Ivano-Frankivsk, where only 7 percent voted for him.