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In Lviv, Ukraine, the nation's east-west divide is on display | LA Times - May 24, 2014 |

Reporting from Lviv, Ukraine --  If this western Ukrainian city of Baroque fountains and cobblestone squares seems like a different country from the eastern rust belt besieged by pro-Russia separatists, that may be because, for most of its history, it was.

Wooden signs in Lviv's Rynok Square hawk homemade pirogies and stuffed cabbage rolls, tastes imparted by the Poles who ruled here for 400 years. Chestnut-shaded promenades and pastel-painted villas evoke Budapest, Prague and Vienna, sister cities of the Austro-Hungarian era when Lviv was called Lemberg.

The question of what it means to be Ukrainian is central to the dispute that has roiled the country for months, leading to an election Sunday to choose a new president. Peter Poroshenko, who has a commanding lead, is expected to win handily, either by gaining an absolute majority in the first round or in a June runoff.

Despite the region's history, which includes virulent anti-Semitism and collaboration with Nazi occupiers, Lviv residents say they embody a Ukrainian character that includes a Western orientation and respect for human rights. Russian officials and leaders of the separatist movement characterize western Ukraine as a hotbed of unrepentant fascism. And many Russians question whether there is even a separate Ukrainian nationality or language.

These sharply diverging views threaten to cleave Ukraine into a Russian-speaking eastern region that is dominated by Russia and western areas that return to their Central European origins.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Apr 30th, 2023 at 10:56:37 AM EST
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