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To help us understand the current situation in Ukraine, lets look back at its modern history.
As the dust settled after World War I, Ukraine was defeated and divided and the Soviets controlled much of the country.
In 1922 Ukraine, along with Russia, became the founding members of the Soviet Union.
Fast-forward to 1932 when the great famine began, up to 10 million Ukrainians starved to death.
Part of the reason why it got so bad was because of the policies of the new head of the communist party, Joseph Stalin.
Then came the Great Terror: Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution
resulted in the killing of some 681,000 people; including 80 percent of the Ukrainian cultural elite
and three-quarters of all the Ukrainian Red Army's higher-ranking officers.
Then came the outbreak of WWII.
German armies invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941,
beginning four straight years of non-stop total war. In the battle of Kiev,
Axis troops encircled and laid siege to the capital city. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers
were killed or taken captive there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian
population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half
a million Jews killed by Nazi death squads, sometimes with the help of local collaborators.
The republic was heavily damaged by the war. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000
villages were destroyed. Material losses comprised an estimated 40 percent of Ukraine's national
wealth. But Ukraine bounces back with its economy boomed.
Industrial output doubled from 1940 to 1955. Before long Ukraine was a
European leader in industrial production, and an important center of the Soviet arms
and high-tech research industries. Ukraine produced many prominent Soviet sports
players, scientists, and artists over this period as well as much of the Soviet leadership,
including Leonid Brezhnev, who ousted Khrushchev and became the Soviet leader from 1964 to
1982. Then, on 26 April 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl
Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the worst nuclear reactor accident in history.
The Soviet Union began to break apart under the weight of the “War of Laws,” which
was the constant conflict between the Soviet Federal Government and its various republics,
who were each seeking greater autonomy. On 24 August 1991, the Ukrainian parliament officially
declared independence. But then the economy immediately sank into
depression and lost 60 percent of its GDP from 1991 to 1999.
A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. The economy was stabilized by the
end of the 1990’s. Corruption under Ukraine’s second president
set the stage for the 2004 ascendence of then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to the Presidency
in elections that the Ukrainian Supreme Court ruled were rigged.
Yanukovych was then thrown out of power in the peaceful Orange Revolution in favor of
opposition leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, who became President and Prime
Minister. Yanukovych then regained the Prime Ministership in 2006, but lost a snap election
just a year later that saw Tymoshenko become Prime Minister again. This map of those 2007
election results shows just how divided Ukraine is politically.
Then came the January 2009 natural gas crisis in which Russia stopped supplying gas to Ukraine
in the middle of winter. Since Ukraine is itself the main supply route to much of Europe,
this was a pretty big problem. Tymoshenko eventually signed an agreement to reopen the
pipes, but not before Ukraine incurred major economic losses.
As a result of the political fallout, Yanukovych - who just does not go away - was elected
President again in 2010. And in October, 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in
prison for abuse of office because she signed the natural gas deal with Russian President
Vladimir Putin. In 2012 the European Union and Ukraine began
negotiations for it to join the 28-nation group. President Viktor Yanukovych urged the
parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU's criteria.
But Russia does not want this to happen, and responded by starting a trade war that resulted
in a 10% decline in Ukrainian export revenue from the previous year, or $1.5 billion in
losses. Bringing us to the 3-month old Euromaidan
protests which began at the end of 2013 when Yanukovych - who was feeling the economic
pressure - abruptly suspended efforts to join the EU. He then turned around and signed an
agreement with Putin, who offered $15 billion in financial aid and a 33% discount on Russian
natural gas. As a result, the protests have escalated and
become more violent, with many now calling for the ouster of Yanukovych and a rejection
of the Russian deal in favor of a complete embrace of Europe.
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烏克蘭歷史:從一戰到2014 (Ukrainian History: WWI to 2014 Revolution)

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姚易辰 發佈於 2014 年 4 月 11 日    Ted Kuo 翻譯    Amber 審核
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