Olga Onuch

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Kyiv, June 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / Reuters

Russia’s war against Ukraine has transformed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s image. Before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, many regarded him as an untested figure whose former career as an actor and comedian did not inspire much confidence. After it began, however, he became—in former U.S. President George W. Bush’s judgment—“the Winston Churchill of our time”.

In the war’s first days, many Western observers assumed that Zelensky would buckle, flee, surrender, or die. Instead, he stayed in Kyiv and led Ukraine with resolve. His popularity skyrocketed. A July 2022 poll conducted by the authors and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found that 65 percent of people in unoccupied Ukraine believed Zelensky to be the best man to lead the country to victory.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. troops deploy for Europe from Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Thursday. (Allison Joyce/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration sent additional U.S. troops to Eastern Europe this week, amid concerns that Russia — with more than 100,000 soldiers stationed along Ukraine’s border — is preparing to extend a possible invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Moscow would be forced into conflict with NATO if the alliance extends membership to Ukraine.

Since the 2000s, Ukrainian policymakers were well aware that if Ukrainians supported NATO membership at rates similar to those of their neighbors like Poland, Ukraine might have a clearer path to membership. Our team has followed Ukrainian public opinion in a series of 11 surveys over eight years (as part of the UCEPS, IBIF and MOBILISE projects, based in part at the University of Manchester).…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman with her child watches in Minsk on Sept. 8, 2020, as police officers detain protesters during a rally for the detained Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the opposition Coordination Council that is seeking talks with President Alexander Lukashenko on a transition of power in Belarus. (AP) (AP)

For the past month, since the Aug. 9 election, Belarusians have engaged in daily protests and strikes across the entire country. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s president since 1994, claimed a reelection victory with 80 percent of the vote, but his critics in Belarus — along with foreign governments, the European Union and independent organizations — say the election was rigged.

Lukashenko blocked the Internet for several days after the election, and riot police arrested some 7,000 people. Reports quickly emerged that security forces were beating and torturing these (mostly young) men and women, and there were allegations of rape. Hundreds of thousands in Belarus are demanding that Lukashenko “leave.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters hold the Ukraine flag and anti-government placards at a rally in Kiev, Ukraine. (Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The journal Post-Soviet Affairs recently published a special issue on politics and identity in Ukraine. The question of Russian vs. Ukrainian identity has been central to the study of Ukrainian politics for decades now, but especially so since the “Euromaidan” protests of 2014, Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, and continued violent conflict among Ukraine, Ukrainian separatists, and Russia-supported forces in the southeast. With this in mind, I spoke to one of the guest editors of the special issue, Olga Onuch, associate professor in politics at the University of Manchester and author of “Mapping Mass Mobilizations: Understanding Revolutionary Moments in Argentina and Ukraine” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).…  Seguir leyendo »

Government supporters rally near a relocated polling center on Oct. 15, 2017, in Caracas ahead of state-governor elections in Venezuela’s 23 states. The results are in dispute. (Wil Riera/Bloomberg News)

On Oct. 15, Venezuelans went to the polls to elect state governors, amid a desperate economic crisis, manipulation of democratic institutions (including packing the supreme court and dissolving the legislature), and widespread allegations of electoral fraud. Last year, the country endured four months of massive street protests involving 6 million to 8 million Venezuelans; those protests were finally banned and put down by President Nicolás Maduro’s government, leading to 134 deaths and roughly 4,800 arrests.

Opinion polls had suggested that Maduro’s governing Socialist party would be turned out of office in many states. However, official results announced that the party won 17 of 23 governors’ seats.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators are blocked by Bolivarian National Police agents during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela, May 12, 2017. (EPA/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ)

This weekend, Venezuela entered its 50th day of protests, the death toll rising to 45. And the world is concerned. The U.N. Security Council, President Trump, and other international actors are trying to stop the crisis in which Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro is attempting to seize political power.

In studying protests in Ukraine and Russia, we have identified some common mistakes that observers make in analyzing such events as they occur. Here are five suggestions for better understanding the Venezuelan protests and their likely outcome.

1. The most popular images may not be real

A video of Mariel, a Venezuelan protester, recently went viral on social media.…  Seguir leyendo »