Discussing State Violence and Social Movements With Mustafa Nayyem, Catalyst of Ukraine's Maidan Revolution
One of the things we cover on Worldview is social movements at home and abroad. In the last decade, our world has witnessed calls for deep social change. In recent years, those calls have come to our shores too. To some Americans, calls for social change has to do with their very dignity: how they’re treated when they walk down the street, sleep in a dorm, hold a picnic, or visit the pool.The same year as the Ferguson protests, a similar movement swept Ukraine. It was called “the Revolution of Dignity.” For months, several high-profile cases of police brutality raised tensions and fear of police. Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem made his career covering social movements. For him, widespread apathy and corruption undermines human dignity
On November 21st, 2013, Nayyem suggested his thousands of Facebook followers meet on Kyiv’s Central Square, the Maidan. Mustafa wanted to discuss President Yanukovych’s decision to back out of a European Union association agreement after Russian trade pressure. Many of Mustafa’s followers hoped the EU agreement would be a check on Ukraine’s bad human rights practices. Since independence in 1991, the country had slipped into deep corruption and police misconduct. In the four months following Mustafa’s Facebook post, peaceful assemblies transformed into deadly government crackdowns.
After the government was impeached, a new government was formed by the revolutionaries. Nayyem went from being a journalist, to a leading member of parliament. As a Russian-speaking immigrant from Afghanistan, Mustafa dismisses Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine on the basis of Russian and minority discrimination. Worldview Producer Julian Hayda was in Ukraine as most of the revolution transpired. He spoke with Mustafa while he visited Chicago. They discussed what’s happened in the four years since.