Ukraine and the Role of the Security Forces in Popular Uprisings

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The recent uprising in Ukraine echoes what happened in the earlier Orange Revolution. Much can be learned by comparing these events and looking at similar uprisings in other countries. This comparison clearly shows the important role played by security forces in determining whether brutal repression or successful regime change will follow. How the security forces react is intimately linked to the tactics employed by civil society.

Brief Points:

  • Nonviolent revolt is much more likely to succeed. This has been evident in Ukraine and the Arab Spring.
  •  The actions of security forces largely determine the success of popular uprisings, as seen in Ukraine in 2005 and 2014.
  • Successful popular uprisings do not necessarily lead to major liberal democratic reforms. Ukraine’s Orange Revolution is a good example of this.

Read more about this in this in the PRIO Conflict Trends Policy Brief launched today, at the celebration of 50 years of Journal of Peace Research.

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