Victims to villains: Internal displacement and nation-building in Ukraine



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University of Tartu Press


The war in Donbas has created large-scale displacement within Ukraine, an issue the impoverished state has struggled to manage. Internally displaced people (IDPs) have suffered from prejudice at the hands of host communities and from legal ambiguities caused by the state’s incoherent attempts at limiting the threat of mass displacement. This paper examines how the Ukrainian government-owned newspaper Uriadovyi Kurier represents the IDPs from Donbas and analyses what the publication’s attitudes towards internal displacement mean. Over time, a distinction appears in the newspaper’s reporting between real IDPs in need of help, and people posing as IDPs, guilty of siphoning Ukrainian tax payers’ money to the rebel-held areas. Also, the paper eagerly discusses how the European Union (EU) and foreign states can be engaged in providing support for the IDPs, relieving pressure from regional budgets and simultaneously binding Ukraine to the West. These tropes serve to construct Ukrainian national unity by excluding politically suspicious migrants from Donbas. They also excuse the state from making any structural adjustments or battling corruption as inadequate social protection can be replaced with foreign aid.



Ukraine, internally displaced persons, nation-building, ideological discourse analysis, Ukraina, Ukraina sisepagulased, rahvuslik enesekonstrueerimine, ideoloogiline diskursuseanalüüs