Mykola Riabchuk

is a Ukrainian author and journalist. His latest books (in English) are At the Fence of Metternich’s Garden. Essays on Europe, Ukraine, and Europeanization (Stuttgart: ibidem Verlag, 2021), and Eastern Europe since 1989: Between the Loosened Authoritarianism and Unconsolidated Democracy (Warsaw: Center for East European Studies, 2020).


Cover for: No longer a footnote

Western Europe’s historical denial of Ukraine’s Europeanness stemmed from the same imperialist root as Russia’s denial of Ukraine’s national existence. Against this background, the EU’s recent change of heart is momentous.

Cover for: Peace talking versus peace making

Ukraine denial is the root cause of Putin’s genocidal war. Since he is unwilling and unable to abandon this ideological obsession, talk of negotiations by western ‘peacemakers’ looks like an attempt to avoid responsibility.

Cover for: Deconstructing imperial knowledge

Deconstructing imperial knowledge

PEN Ukraine conversations

Through the lens of Russian imperial identity, there is no place for dialogue and negotiation: Ukraine can only be assimilated or exterminated. Ukrainian resistance has to be seen for what it really is – a decolonial fight for democracy.

Cover for: Russia’s war

When war becomes a reality, time is of the essence. Slow political responses raise questions about underlying reasons for reluctance. And as Russia wages war on Ukraine, how the situation is described at distance also matters. How can Putin’s position be pulled back from the black hole of media and political acquiescence?

Cover for: My personal history of independence

Under Soviet rule, Ukrainian national consciousness remained dormant and independence an unspeakable taboo. When the desire for freedom erupted, it expanded far beyond the marked route of perestroika. On the 30th anniversary of Ukrainian sovereignty, Mykola Riabchuk recounts a personal history of how independence was conceived, formed and defended.

Cover for: Shifting the wall further east

Shifting the wall further east

Kundera’s tragedy of ‘central Europe’ three decades later

In an attempt to distance themselves from the post-Soviet realm and signal their belonging to the West, some countries have revived the label of ‘central’ European. But instead of bringing down the walls of prejudice, this discourse fuels further exclusion by meddling with philosophic geography.

Cover for: Incident


Or three short essays on solidarity

In the absence of civic traditions and positive social capital, society often organises itself along mafia-style norms. Post-communist Ukrainian society is a prime example. Yet grass-roots civic networks also operate as an alternative. Mykola Riabchuk investigates the sociology clash between these two state-nation building projects.

Cover for: When bridges turn out to be walls

The trope of building bridges between peoples on opposing sides of a conflict often seems compelling, and infers an inevitable benevolence. Yet Mykola Riabchuk considers the strategy itself to be misguided, especially when those bridges actually separate people instead of bringing them together.

Cover for: How (and why) I still remain a Czech and a Slovak. A 2018 afterword

Fifty years ago, Warsaw Pact forces led by the Red Army invaded Czechoslovakia. The socialist reforms of the Prague Spring were suppressed and Czechoslovakia was subjected to more than 20 years of stultifying ‘normalization’ under Soviet occupation. Revisiting his essay of 10 years ago, Ukrainian writer Mykola Riabchuk explains why his solidarity with the victims endures.

Cover for: Repossessions

In a deeply personal reflection on identity, emigration and dispossession, writer Mykola Riabchuk surveys the recent history of his native Ukraine. He also describes the work of Vladimir Rafeenko, published in Eurozine for the first time in English on 21 August 2017.

Cover for: Defining censorship during a conflict

Defining censorship during a conflict

Is Ukraine right to block media from Russia?

Western commentators have lambasted Ukraine’s decision to ban Russian media, TV and film. But Mykola Riabchuk argues that attacking the move as censorship ignores its context: namely, Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR) in 1920

As Walter Benjamin once remarked, “every rise of Fascism bears witness to a failed revolution”. A statement that events in Ukraine after the Orange revolution go some way toward confirming, writes Mykola Riabchuk; not that a sudden reversal of recent trends remains out of the question.

EU graffiti wall

For both Russia and Ukraine, the conflict in eastern Ukraine marks the beginning of a painful process of emancipation from a pre-modern imagined community of eastern Slavs. A process, writes Mykola Riabchuk, from which modern civic national identities must emerge.

Dezentralisierung und Subsidiarität

Wider die Föderalisierung à la russe

In der Ukraine ist der Ruf nach einer Föderalisierung des Landes laut geworden. Ihre Verfechter sehen darin einen Weg, die Spannungen zwischen den Regionen zu reduzieren. Gegner befürchten die Zunahme zentrifugaler Tendenzen. Moskau propagiert die Föderalisierung, um so Einfluss auf die Ukraine zu behalten oder gar um das Land nach dem Beispiel Bosniens zu lähmen. Statt über Föderalisierung à la russe nachzudenken, sollte Kiew funktionierende staatliche Institutionen aufbauen und Reformen zur Dezentralisierung und Stärkung der Selbstbestimmung auf kommunaler und regionaler Ebene beginnen. Das wäre der wichtigste Beitrag zur Stärkung der Staatlichkeit und der Demokratie.

Political mobilization and the world system

The case of Ukraine and Russia

In an interview conducted before Euromaidan commenced, Don Kalb discusses the future of capitalism in eastern Europe. Given the rise of China and India, and economic stagnation in the West, Kalb emphasizes the importance of political mobilization in both Ukraine and Russia.

The main threat to the revolution comes not from Crimean separatism nor from far-right groups, writes Mykola Riabchuk. The biggest threat comes from within: from old habits and oldboy networks. New politicians are needed to avoid repeating the missed opportunities of 1991 and 2004.

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