EURONEWS: Ukrainian independence at 30: is the building of a national identity the country's biggest achievement?

Three decades after the Soviet collapse, today's Ukrainians are now more in touch with their national identity than ever before

Emil Filtenborg and Stefan Weichert
Thursday, 26 August 2021 16:37

Wearing traditional embroidered shirts, Pavlo Shykin, 27, and Dana Vitkovska, 26, were all smiles on Tuesday as their nation, Ukraine, celebrated 30 years of independence.

Thousands of Ukrainians flocked to Kreshatyk Street, the main vein of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as the country celebrated the landmark date with an impressive parade of soldiers, vehicles, planes and strike drones.

Shykin and Vitkovska are about to change their own independent status by getting married but gave Euronews a sense of how the nation is seen by people born shortly after the independence of 1991.

The soon-to-be-married couple lived through the economic and social turmoil of the 90s when Ukraine was trying to form a new nation out of a former Soviet republic. They were teenagers at the beginning of this millennium, just as Ukraine started to see economic growth, and they were both university students when the 'Revolution of Dignity' ousted former president Viktor Yanukovich in 2013-2014.

“There's been a lot of different times. When we were born, they were very hard times for Ukraine. Our parents tell us that it was a very hard period. But the economic situation improved, we had growth, and the situation became much better. I don’t remember the bad times, only the good ones,” says Shykin, who, as an economist, is very much aware of the peaks and troughs of the nation's fiscal history. But his girlfriend Dana Vitkovksa sees a more psychological phenomenon at work.

“People didn’t feel like Ukrainians," she tells Euronews.

"They didn’t have their own identity, but this situation is changing. You can see that people are becoming aware of the fact, that they are one nation. Maybe the war in the East is the reason that they embraced their identity. I think that it is becoming better every year.”


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