Young Eastern Europeans disillusioned with the West

2017/4/20 22:44:30

First Crimea, then eastern Ukraine — who’s next?

By Lili Bayer for Ozy’s Daily Dose, Feb 16, 2017


In a noisy café in central Kyiv, where anti-Putin stickers adorn the doors and young people from across Ukraine’s busy capital like to relax after work, the Lebediev brothers — Vitalii, 24, and Oleksii, 23 — worry about the impact of developments in Britain and the U.S. on their futures. “Before Brexit, I didn’t think there were such big problems” in the European Union, says Vitalii over a cup of tea. But now, “we have to think twice … if this is our future.” Oleksii also is concerned “Russia will make its move for sure once we don’t have as much support from the U.S. and European Union.”


The brothers are far from alone in their fears. Ukrainian millennials, like their counterparts in other Central and Eastern European countries, once saw the West in a very positive light. A 2014 study by the European Youth Parliament found that more than 60 percent of Poles ages 15 to 28 wanted more European integration. Last spring a Pew Research Center poll of Ukrainians ages 18 to 29 showed that nearly 80 percent of respondents had favorable views of the West. However, recent conversations with young people and experts from six countries — Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — reveal that 25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the region’s youth are disillusioned with both the EU and the U.S.


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