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Ukraine’s current potential for social protests is highest in past decade — expert

April 10, 2015, 20:21 UTC+3 KIEV
Despite the worsening social situation Ukrainians are not taking to streets because there is no real leader
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Protesters in Kiev

Protesters in Kiev

© Roman Schukin/TASS

KIEV, April 10. /TASS/. The number of Ukrainians ready to take to streets in protest against social deterioration is now the biggest in the past decade, a Ukrainian political expert said on Friday.

"Today, the potential for protest is much higher than it was before the ‘maidan’ [Maidan is the name for Kiev's downtown Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests that started when President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in November 2013 - TASS]: about ten to fifteen percent are ready to take to streets to express their protests," Ruslan Bortnik, the director of the Ukrainian Policy Analysis and Management Institute, said at a news conference answering TASS’ question about perspectives of social protests in Ukraine over the sharp deterioration of living standards. In his words, this is the highest percentage in the past ten years.

At the same time, he noted that despite the worsening social situation Ukrainians are not taking to streets because there is no real leader. "There is no leader who would enjoy confidence of these potential protesters" because of the actions of the current Ukrainian authorities, Bortnik said. "Any person who might potentially be a leader of these protest movements immediately falls under information, administrative and other kinds of pressure from the authorities and hence cannot take a position maidam leaders enjoyed during the Viktor Yanukovich regime."

Konstantin Bondarenko, the director of the Ukrainian Politics Fund, noted that social tensions in Ukrainian society might trigger a Haiti-type scenario of developments. "The situation in Ukraine might follow the Haiti scenario, when the semi-totalitarian authorities use a special stratum which bullies any manifestations of opposition thought and keeps a lid on any manifestations of social discontent," he said.

Consumer prices in Ukraine have hiked by 45.8% on March 2014, while real wages dropped by 6.5% According to the Fund of Mandatory State Insurance against Unemployment, the number of people who have no permanent jobs nears five million.

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