Despite the chaos engulfing parts of the country, many of the young Ukrainians who took part in the Euromaidan protests in Kiev are still hopeful for the future. Last week, a team of interviewers from the AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe) European Students’ Forum visited Kiev as part of their Europe on Track project (and you can see their earlier report of discussions with young Spanish people here). The project – which is interviewing hundreds of young people across Europe and the EU – was asking young Ukrainians about their attitudes towards political engagement.
The key message that young Ukrainians wanted to send to their counterparts in the EU was that they should not be afraid of becoming politically active. They also believed that direct action was sometimes needed in order to bring about real change, and that social movements can change society even more than political parties. Ultimately, though, they thought it was important for young people to take part in both the social movements and political parties in their countries.
Despite the media headlines all focusing on the fighting in the east of the country, young Ukrainians in Kiev say they are still committed to bringing about change. Most of the young people that AEGEE spoke to said they were involved in the Euromaidan protests and are still active in many social movements and initiatives. After the revolution, some of them stayed at Maidan while many others say they started their own civil society organisations, businesses or NGOs in order to change Ukrainian society.
AEGEE reports that, despite the commonly accepted view of young people being apathetic and disinterested in politics, in Ukraine the young people are even more active in politics than most older people.
Do YOU think social movements can change society even more than political parties? Are young Europeans too afraid of becoming politically active? Is peaceful direct action (including protests, marches and demonstrations) sometimes needed in order to bring about real change? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.