Construction of Reality in the Context of Signing the Agreement about Regulation of the Crisis in Ukraine on 21 February 2014



Social and political reality is semiotic, i.e. it is a combination of signs in the political text of the society. A sign is an associative category that makes a connection between a subject and its image in a person’s perception. A sign always has an interpretant – its direct meaning and a variety of additional – connotative – interpretants that in every single case are defined by a reader’s perception, and depend on particular conditions (place, time, cultural traditions etc.) where he/she exists.

As the reality is constructed from signs, it can be denotative and connotative. Authors represent connotative realities not only as interpretation of events but also as a real denotative reality, and therefrom make political decisions (V.Yanukovich’s absence in the country – O. Turchynov’s election as the acting President; not voting for V.Yanukovich’s impeachment – his statements about the legitimacy of his Presidency). Facts no longer exist, one connotative reality beats the other, and some interpetants beat the other ones.

Social and political processes in Ukraine in the period of autumn-winter confrontation between the society and the power (November 2013 – February 2014) gained a sign called “Maydan”. During the development of Maydan’s political text different realities were designed. Their authors considered them to be denotative. So, after the protests in Ukraine the authors of two realities endued the sign “banderovtsy” with different meanings: “fascists” in V.Yanukovich’s  reality, “patriots” – in the reality of the protests participants. At that point, the more V.Yanukovich intensified the meaning of “fascists” the more the supporters of the protests propagated this sign with the meaning “patriots”. Denotative meaning – S.Bandera’s person – was lost in both realities.

The real war of realities started and resulted in the split of the country and the intervention of the Russian Federation to the territory of Ukraine. One of the signs around which the authors designed different realities was the Agreement about the regulation of the crisis in Ukraine signed between the President  of Ukraine V.Yanukovich and the opposition leaders V.Klichko, A.Yatsenyuk and O.Tyagnybok.

Key words denotative reality, connotative reality, interpretant, sign, metaphor, text


The research is based on the authors’ methodological approach based on works by R.Barthes [Barthes 1968, 1975], J.Derrida [Derrida 1980, 1998], J.Kristeva [Kristeva 1980], J.Lyotard [Lyotard 1984]. In particular, relying on their concept  of  the  text  and  category  (“sign”,  “connotation”,  “construction”  and “deconstruction”, “author”, “reader”) the authors have developed the research methodology of realities construction in a common political text.

Reality models are constructed owing to the text that is a combination of all signs, stereotypes, myths, attitudes typical for a certain society in the chosen period of time. There is no common “storyline” or “author” in the text: all realities are fragmentary, all authors try to “overwrite” it, make own variant of reality dominant.

The goal of this research is to find out differences of realities and factors that preconditioned these differences as a consequence of signing the Agreement about regulation of the crisis in Ukraine. The research subject is a process of constructing connotative realities of the Agreement by the President of Ukraine V.Yanukovich; the leaders of the opposition V.Klichko, A.Yatsenyuk, O.Tyagnybok; the participants of the mass protests.


Denotative, i.e. the most actual reality of 21 February 2014 was the fact of signing of the Agreement about resolution of the crisis in Ukraine (as well as the text of the Agreement) [The Agreement 2014] by the President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich, the leaders of the opposition Aresniy Yatsenyuk, Vitaliy Klichko and Oleg Tyagnybok. Thus both parties, the power and the opposition, were the authors of the reality. The Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the German Federal Republic Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Miniter of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski and Director of the Department of Continental Europe of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Eric Fournier acted as the guarantors of the Agreement.

The text of the Agreement was not accorded with the participants of the protests on Maydan Nezalezhnosti thus this was the President’s and the opposition leaders’ reality only.

The signing of the Agreement took place under the following conditions of the denotative reality:

Mass protests demanding the President Victor Yanukovich to resign, call the pre-term presidential and parliamentary elections had been lasting for three

months already and reached the escalation of the conflict, in particular – the armed stand-off between the protestors and force structures which resulted in having more than a hundred of dead and a thousand of injured people.

Mass murders during 18-20 February (according to the Ministry of Public Health of Ukraine during the stand-off 82 persons died (71 protestors and 11 law enforcement officers), 622 persons were injured [Information about victims 2014]), guilty persons were not found but the protesters were aware of whom to blame (the President, security agencies, the power);
Seizure of public offices by protestants, paralyzation of Kyiv city center;
Dismissal of the government along with the ministers still being actually in power (except the Prime-Minister Mykola Azarov) including the Minister of Home Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko who was accused by the protesters of the arrangement of military actions;

Influence of external factors (principal officers of EU, USA and Russia) on the situation in Kyiv including imposing sanctions against the powers by EU and the USA;
Victor Yanukovich on the post of the President of Ukraine who flatly refused to call pre-term presidential election during all protests;
Carrying out a number of rounds of negotiations between the power and the opposition at that the reluctance of the power to make principal concessions.

The fulfillment of the Agreement provided a change of the denotative reality, in particular the renewal of the Constitution 2004 with the reduction of the presidential powers during two days; creation of the coalition and forming of the government of the national solidarity during 10 days; constitutional reform that should be completed in September 2014; carrying out presidential elections after the adoption of the new Constitution but not later than in December 2014.

One of the main suppositions that made the power sign the Agreement was mass murder on 18-20 February 2014. Thus, although the text of the Agreement presented a plan of actions from the power and the opposition, most metaphors in it were related to violence. At that there was no metaphor of murder in it. So murders of people were described with the sign “tragic occurrences of life losses in Ukraine” (metaphor of death). There is also a sign of “bloodshed” from this metaphor in the context “to stop bloodshed”. Besides the signs of the metaphor of violence were used: “violence”, “tough actions”, “power”, “confrontation”, “arms”. The power and the opposition obligated to keep from “tough actions” and to stop “confrontation”. At that the power promised not to impose state of emergency, to use forces of law and order for physical protection of public offices only. In exchange, it demanded from protesters to lay down arms.

Stop of the confrontation was expressed with the metaphors of release: signs of “unblocking”, “release”; of the way “way of political regulation of the crisis”; of negotiations: “agreements”. The character of the agreements is represented with the signs: “concerned”, “aspiring”, “strongly committed to”, “to make serious efforts”.  The  goal  of  the  agreements  should  become:  “release”,  “stop  of  confrontation”, “normalization of life”.

It is important to note that there are a few uniting signs in the text of the Agreement. The following could be referred to them: “the government of the national solidarity”. At the same time there is a strife between the power and the opposition: “both parties”, “the power and opposition”. Thus the reality of the Agreement is as follows: during the protests there was bloodshed; both the power and the opposition were participants of the confrontation (both parties should have stopped the confrontation); none of the parties took the responsibilities for the deaths (“tragic occurrences of life losses”); the third party – participants of the protest – was not considered in the Agreement; the opposition was able to control the participants of the protest; the power respectively could have controlled security officials; the Agreement was able to change the reality (“stop bloodshed”).

The protesters’ reality

In the evening after the Agreement was signed the leaders of the opposition should have presented it on Maydan Nezalezhnosti and started the stopping`s process of the confrontation (buildings` release, streets` unblocking, lay down of arms). The protesters’ reality was preconditioned by the following:

Funerals  of  people  killed  several  days  before  were  held  on  Maydan Nezalezhnosti. There is a video on the Internet that shows how people had been shot;

Hundreds of injured as a result of the confrontation. Information about people who were burnt alive in the house of Trade Unions;
Opposition leaders unable to control protesters. Their rather low authority among the participants of the protests;
Public leaders of Maydan, in particular Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the radical organization “Right sector”;

None of public persons participated in signing of the Agreement. The opposition leaders did not consult with Maydan before signing. At that the participants of the protest learnt the text of the Agreement from news.

As a result, the participants of Maydan did not accept the signed Agreement between the opposition leaders and the President of Ukraine V. Yanukovich.

The subjects of research were the protesters’ speeches on Maydan Nezalezhnosti on 21 February 2014: of Volodymyr Parasyuk, the member of a “hundred” [Video of V.Parasyuk’s speech 2014], Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right sector [Video of D.Yarosh’s speech 2014], Dmytro Gnap, journalist, public activist [Video of D.Gnap’s speech 2014].

The reality of the protest participants was in a struggle of all people in Ukraine against the “gangs of the power”. Describing themselves they used the metaphors of unity (“we”, “our”, “all people”, “all”, “hundreds of thousands of people”, “all over all the cities in Ukraine”, “unity of insurgent movement”, “common struggle”); of family (“father”, “friends and brothers”, “brothers and sisters”, “a wife and a small child were left”); of Home country (“people of Ukraine”, “compatriots”, “Ukrainians”, “Motherland”).

At  that  the  protests  participants  dissociated  themselves  from  politicians (which defines them as an independent party of the protests): “we are not from any organizations”, “plain folks”; “in all cities of Ukraine people protect their lives from this gang by their own, without opposition leaders” [Video of D.Gnap’s speech 2014].

Protests participants in Kyiv did not consider them as the protest in the capital only; Maydan became a synonym of protests all over the country. Typical was a sign “people of Maydan”. Talking about the protests scale people based themselves on the signs: “hundreds of thousands of  people all over Ukraine”, “millions of people all over the country”, “in all cities of Ukraine”. So the protest was all-Ukrainian not just in Kyiv.

The goal of the protests was the defense of rights and not only the change of the power: “Hundreds of thousands of people all over Ukraine took to the street defending their rights, their right for a decent life, their right for living in the country where there is law, no corruption, where honor and justice are acknowledged” [Video of D.Gnap’s speech 2014].

We see a metaphor of defense: people took to the street not for gaining new rights (demand higher salaries, social reforms etc.), or for Ukraine’s joining the EU – this demand was never heard. The protest participants came to get the things they had been deprived of. The key signs and values of the protest participants are: “uphold”, “defend”. For – “rights”, “life”, “decent life”, “freedom”, “law”, “honor”, “justice”, “well-being”. It’s noteworthy that it was about advocacy of decent life as well as physical defense of people because, as we know, people were killed during those days. In this context the “sotnik” Volodymyr Parasyuk’s speech was illustrative: “My blood brother from Yavorivshchyna was shot. His wife and a small child were left without a husband and a father [Video V.Parasyuk’s speech 2014]”. So, two most important values were life that was taken, and the family that was deprived of a member.

Metaphors of revolution (“revolution”, “barricades”, “assault”, “Ukraine has rebelled”, “struggle against the regime”), of war (“fight”, “80 boys laid down their lives”, “killer”, “die”) prove it to be a struggle, not just a protest.

These metaphors from the group of violence were mostly presented during the protests. It was determined by denotative reality. People who died during the protests were called only heroes, and the symbolization “All honor to Ukraine! All honor to Heroes” became one of the strongest during the protests. All speeches started and ended with these signs, they became special greeting of protesters.

The power became an embodiment of all negative events in the country, thus the defense of rights meant for people the removal of the acting government on all hands. People took to the street against “corruption”, “regime of internal occupation” [Video of D.Yarosh’s speech 2014], “gang”. The attitude toward the power was expressed purely with the metaphor of crime: “killer”, “zek”, “regime of internal occupation”, “gang”, “wheels of state hung”. Yanukovich was nothing but “zek” for protesting people. He was also described as a “bad egg” and the destiny of Gaddafi was predicted to him. The sign of the regime became Mezhygirya (the residency of Yanukovich that became in Ukraine one of the strongest signs of corruption).

As V. Yanukovich was perceived merely as a criminal, the main and simple goal of the protests was his ouster, in sign measurement – from “dismissal” to “tribunal”. “Zek, get away!” is one of the strongest sign combinations of the protests that stuck to V. Yanukovich. In the described period “tribunal” became another most common sign. Dmytro Gnap interpreted people’s moods on Maydan: “Either he will resign in the nearest time, nearest days, or he will be jailed, or he will see Mezhygirya burn… Three options were given to Yanukovich: resignation, imprisonment, or public tribunal and Gaddafi’s destiny” [Video of D.Gnap’s speech 2014].

So, in sign measurement the  result of the  protest could be “dismissal”, “prison”,  “public  tribunal”,  “Gaddafi’s  destiny”  (murder),  “fire  in  Mezhygirya” (destruction of corruption sign). In spite of aggressive signs, the result expected by the protesters was the resignation of V. Yanukovich: “tomorrow till 10 o’clock he must  get  away”,  “resignation  of  the  President”. More  radical actions for those responsible for murders were   proposed    by    Dmytro   Yarosh:   “All    guilty   – Zakharchenko,  Berkut  commanding  officers,  those  who  delivered  the  order, sharpshooters must be jailed”. But even here we do not see appeals to lynch law.   As a result, the Agreement between the opposition leaders and the President of Ukraine absolutely did not meet the expectations of the protesters as it provided V. Yanukovich’s further heading the state. Thus this Agreement became a betrayal for protesters, and the leaders of the opposition – betrayers.

The attitude to negotiations and the Agreement looked like this: Negotiations – “stupid talks that we have been fed with for 2.5 months”.

Distrust to any negotiations as the protests have been lasting for the third month, several rounds of negotiations were carried out but the power did not want to make concessions. Signs: “don’t believe”, “fed with stupid talks”, “whitewash”.

By signing the Agreement the protesters’ position was ignored: “Agreement from news”, “signed on the quiet”, “did not agree with Maydan”.
Agreements did not meet the protesters’ goals: “The agreements that were achieved did not meet our aspirations” [Video of D.Yarosh’s speech 2014].

The main metaphor that the protesters used for description of signing the Agreement was a betrayal. Other signs: “disappointment”, “contempt”, “irresponsibility”. As a result, the protesters distanced themselves from the oppositional leaders even more: “They are considered to be the leaders of the opposition but they are not the leaders of Ukrainian people” [Video of D.Gnap’s speech 2014]. Metaphor of betrayal became the main one for characteristic of V. Klichko, A. Yatsenyuk and O. Tyagnybok: “betrayers”, “standing behind my back”, “our leaders shake hands with this killer” [Video of V.Parasyuk’s speech 2014], “shame”. The disappointment was expressed by the sign “typical Ukrainian politicians” that basically proved people’s distrust to politicians.

Thus in the protesters’ reality the signed Agreement was a betrayal of the opposition leaders. The participants of the protests did not acknowledge the Agreement, they delivered an ultimatum: V. Yanukovich had to resign before 10 o’clock next morning. In denotative reality the protesters acknowledged neither A. Yatsenyuk, V. Klichko or O. Tyagnybok as their leaders, nor the Agreement.

Reality of the opposition

Having signed the Agreement the leaders of the opposition found themselves in the following reality:

The main goal of signing the Agreement for the leaders of the opposition was to  stop bloodshed that from their point of view depended on V. Yanukovich.

That is why the Agreement was supposed to guarantee  that during the protests people would not die any more.

In fact, the Agreement took into account all claims of the opposition (not of Maydan), in particular: return to the Constitution 2004 (idea of the people’s deputy  D.  Zhvaniya). Opposition  leaders  kept  trying  to  convince  the participants that this returning would have positive results. Constitution- 2004 deprives the President of Ukraine of significant powers. Thus, from the very beginning, the politicians did not believe in pre-term termination of authorities of the President of Ukraine V. Yanukovich, otherwise they would not change the distribution  of authorities  just before the pre-term presidential election (Yu. Timoshenko spoke out against this). The politicians just wanted to “cut” V. Yanukovich’s powers.

The Agreement provided holding the pre-term presidential elections before December 2014. It means continuing V. Yanukovich’s Presidency for one more year. This was the main problem of the leaders of the opposition: to convince the protesters that their goal, the reelection of the President, was really archived. The reality of the oppositionists was that they did not believe in their own power, and they let V.Yanukovich’s determine the negotiations results.

In fact A.Yatsenyuk reserved the post of the Prime-Minister that V.Yanukovich offered to him, as the Agreement provided creation of the government of national solidarity.

Thus, the Agreement served the interests of the opposition leaders but they should have convinced the protesters that they had disputed a victory, and should have started actions to phase down the protests.

For the analysis of A.Yatsenyuk’s speech on the briefing after signing the Agreement [Video of A.Yatsenyuk’s speech 2014, 14], V.Klichko’s speeches [Video of f V.Klichko’s speech 2014], O.Tyagnybok [Video of O.Tyagnybok’s speech 2014], A.Yatsenyuk [Video of A.Yatsenyuk’s speech 2014, 17], P.Poroshenko  [Video of P.Poroshenko’s speech 2014] on Maydan Nezalezhnosti on 21 February 2014 were chosen. During the speeches on Maydan one of the main factors that shaped the Agreement’s future and change of denotative reality was victims’ funeral. The leaders of the opposition tried to convince people in their victory, but they actually meant to convince that V.Yanukovich would remain on the presidential post till the end of the year when coffins were brought to Maydan. This factor influenced all speeches.

Those who spoke tried to convince the protesters that the main goal was achieved – “stop of bloodshed” which meant “victory”. So, while for protesters a victory meant the resignation of V.Yanukovich, for the oppositionists it meant the stop of bloodshed.

The leaders of the oppositions tried to call on the metaphor of victory. On the day after signing the document, A. Yatsenyuk said that the Agreement: “provides some most important articles that Ukrainian people demanded”; “is a first step to regulation of the situation”; “the election of the president of Ukraine will be carried


out before time this year”. He tried to avoid specifics when exactly the presidential elections would be carried out and whether V.Yanukovich would remain on his post. V.Klichko called the Agreement a “small victory” on Maydan.

During speeches on Maydan almost all politicians turned to the metaphor of victory: “victories”, “to win”. It was the first conflict of realities as the main goal of the protesters was the immediate dismissal of V.Yanukovich.

At the same time P.Poroshenko who appeared after negative reaction on V. Klichko’s and O.Tyagnybok’s words reshaped the speech according to  people’s mood. He said that now “there is no victory”, “we made one step to achieve the goal” and the victory would come with a “new president” and a “new country”.

The speeches of the leaders of the opposition were built on the metaphors of violence: “bloodshed”, “brother fights against brother, Ukrainian against Ukrainian”, “blood was shed”, “arms”, “bullets” (metaphors of war). In all speeches there was a metaphor of death as the speeches were made during funerals: “died”, “laid to rest the sotnik who died together with you”, “laid down their lives”, “died yesterday”, “are dying”, “commemoration”. The sign of death of confrontation realities was Instytutska street where most people were shot.

In the speeches the politicians paid most attention to dead people. The same as for protesters the dead are merely heroes. The key sign “All honor to Ukraine! All honor to heroes!”, “feel sorrow for our heroes”. Taking into account the day of funeral the leaders of the opposition used the metaphor of religion as well: “God bless their souls”, “never forget the heroes”, “may the peace of God be with them”, “may the earth lie light upon them”, “undying glory to Heroes”.

The protesters distanced themselves from the politicians and called them betrayers. The politicians tried to improve the situation including with the metaphors of unity and family: “our unity”, “we are united”, “brothers and sisters”, “we”, “shoulder to shoulder”.

V.Klichko addressing people on Maydan tried to convince that signing of the Agreement was their desert and their victory: “Thanks to every one of you today we have small victories” [Video of V.Klichko’s speech 2014].

O.Tygnybok tried to speak with the protesters as an equal appealing to the fact that he also lost people: “16 members of our organization died here on Instytutska”, “svobodivtsi who died here yesterday on Instytutska!” [Video of O.Tyagnybok’s speech 2014].

Responding to the reaction of people he said that “it is not the right time to quarrel” and called on people to unity: “It is not the right time to quarrel, we should stand shoulder to shoulder” [Video of O.Tyagnybok’s speech 2014].

In the speeches of the politicians there was not a metaphor of revolution that day, instead there was a metaphor of struggle: “our struggle”, “fight against the power”, “fight against the regime”, “the one who’s fighting will be able to win”, “fight for the Future”.

At the same  time the leaders of the opposition emphasized negotiations rather than revolutionary dealing with the crisis: “meet”, “convince”, “”agree”, “do”. Talking about the protests goal, the reality of the leaders match the protesters’ reality: “asserting the right to live in a free country”, “fighting for our future”, “for future of the country”, “that we live in a free country”, “build a new country”, “victory of Ukraine”, “modern country where I want to live”, “the gang has left”. It’s noteworthy that the politicians talked about the future of Ukraine more in the abstract while the protesters emphasized that they came to defend their rights.

The power in the reality of the opposition was described with the metaphors of dictatorship: “dictators” (“There will be no dictators in Ukraine any more”),  of “regime” and crime: “the power launched bloodshed”, “gang”, “zek”. At that, it’s noteworthy that the politicians tried to avoid mentioning V.Yanukovich. It was supposedly done in order not to touch upon a painful topic of reelection. Only

Klichko mentioned Yanukovich when he was apologizing for “having to shake Yanukovich’s hand”. V.Klichko was the only one calling V.Yanukovich a “zek”.

The politicians also accused the power of launching the confrontation: “Today the power does everything to make people fight each other, using the language, history, church, religion or any other issues. And found the ways. West and East. The power use any possibilities to strike people together. Key signs: “confrontation”, “brother fights against brother”, “Ukrainian against Ukrainian” [Video of V.Klichko’s speech 2014].

Thus, on Maydan Nezalezhnosti the leaders of the opposition tried to make people accept the reality of the Agreement. They noted that they had already achieved a victory (even if “small”) – stopped bloodshed. None of them told about the resignation of the President V.Yanukovich, only P.Poroshenko said that there would be a victory “after electing a new President” [Video of P.Poroshenko’s speech 2014]].

Reality of V.Yanukovich

In the evening on 21 February after signing the Agreement with the representatives of the opposition that was verified by the international mediators V. Yanukovich left for Kharkiv to participate in the congress of deputies of all levels in south-eastern oblasts and Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The congress had been initiated by All-Ukrainian public union “Ukrainian front”. But V.Yanukovich did not visit it, as he firstly went to Lugansk, then after a failed effort to cross the Russian Federation border by helicopter had to return to Donetsk from where he left for Crimea by car. In a few days after these events there was information in mass media that V.Yanukovich was on the territory of Russia and was going to give a press conference in Rostov-on-Don.

The reality of V.Yanukovich was preconditioned by the following:

Agreement with the representatives of the opposition about regulation of the crisis in Ukraine signed on 21 February 2014 ;
Dissent of protesters and public members from the text of the Agreement and open  statement  about  this  from  the  stage  of  Mayday  together  with  the

impeachment of representatives of the opposition who signed this Agreement.

As a result; the ultimatum to V.Yanukovich: to abnegate powers till 10.00 o’clock 22 February 2014;

Majority voting in Verkhovna Rada on 22 February 2014 for dismissal of the VR speaker V.Rybak and election of the new speaker O.Turchynov, for renewal of validity of the Constitution 2004 as well as for removal of V.Yanukovich from the office of the President of Ukraine by virtue of his self- dismissal from execution of constitutional authorities. The last bill draft provided scheduling the pre-term election of the President of Ukraine on 25 April 2014. Next day the deputies of VR elected O.Turchynov as acting President of Ukraine for the period before defining the results of the reelection of the president in May 2014 that was stipulated by the Constitution 2004;
Mass departure of deputies from the fraction of the Party of regions in Verkhovna Rada (as of 23 February 2014 – 72 deputies);
Pro-Russian separative meetings and occupation of regional state administrations under Russian and soviet flags in eastern and southern oblasts of Ukraine. The main slogans: “Federalization of Ukraine”, “Defense of Ukraine from banderovtsy”;
Entry of Russian militaries in AR Crimea on 27 February 2014 without identification marks of RF armed forces.

The research subject was V.Yanukovich’s interview to journalists in Kharkiv on 22 February 2001 [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014], V.Yanukovich’s statement broadcast by Russian mass media on 27 February 2014, the day before the press conference in Rostov-on-Don [Viktor Yanukovich's statement 2014] and the shorthand report of the press conference from 28 February 2014 [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014].

V.Yanukovich’s reality lied in non recognition of the decisions made by the parliament regarding his dismissal from the post of the President of Ukraine and insisting that he was the only legitimate President. Describing himself, he used only the construction “I am a legally elected President”, “legal Head of Ukrainian State”. For intensification he used the metaphors of law in frames of which he cited legal provisions of Ukraine (“The President did not resign”, “If the President is alive”, “the President was not impeached” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference of 2014] and emphasized that the laws adopted in Verkhovna Rada at the end of February 2014 were not signed by him, and thus, they were not acknowledged (“I don’t acknowledge them”, “I am not signing anything”, “I did not sign them” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014]).

V.Yanukovich’s perception of the Agreement signed with the representatives of the opposition was controversial and changed depending on the chronology of his public statements. So, during private interview to journalists in Kharkiv on 22 February 2014 he called the negotiations “ultimatums”. And at the press conference in Rostov-on-Don it was “the Agreement that should have regulated the crisis”, it “was rather disputable and difficult” but “aimed at stop of bloodshed and search for peaceful settlement” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014].

But V.Yanukovich did not take responsibility for any of events in Ukraine during February 2014. Just in this context he tried to carry on rhetoric using the metaphor of victim (“I was cynically deceived”) and identifying self with Ukrainian people (only in this single case: “all Ukrainian people were deceived”). Guilty except “radicals” and the “official opposition” were the West, international mediators (“the result of irresponsible policy of the West”), “I believed in decency of the international mediators” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014]). But peculiarities of V.Yanukovich’s rhetoric in the first by date interview to journalists were different and marked by embarrassment of their author. He expected the reaction of the international community, in particular, the guarantee of his security and his recognition as a legitimate President from their side: “all international mediators gave me guarantees… I will see how they are going to fulfill their role” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014]. The change of key signs of opinions about the international mediators after V.Yanukovich came to the territory of RF most likely prove the fact that he adopted the opinion of the President of RF V.Putin as for regulation of the crisis, because the representatives of the international community already openly supported the power in Kyiv.

As early as at the press conference in Rostov V.Yanukovich insisted that the Agreement signed between him and the representatives of the opposition and verified by the international mediators was not fulfilled, thus the main way out of the situation was to fulfill this Agreement and thus to recognize him the legitimate President of Ukraine. According to him, it would be a legal process of settlement of the political crisis in Ukraine.

The key requirements of V.Yanukovich as for fulfillment of Agreement provisions were the following:

Immediate start and completion of the constitutional reform by September 2014;
Unprejudiced investigation of acts of violence under the total monitoring of the government, opposition and the Council of Europe;

Securing normal life of Ukrainian citizens through removing armed people from streets;
Reckoning with the interests of all regions of Ukraine and as a consequence, holding the national referendum.

The specificity of adoption by the parliament of all laws after the 21 February

2014 that V.Yanukovich identified as “illegal” he described by means of signs of the metaphor of violence and the metaphor of intimidation (“influenced by security and militants of Maydan” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014]). V.Yanukovich had somewhat controversial attitude to the authorities set up in Kyiv. During one of the speeches he firstly used the word “government” and then applied the  construction  “so  called  government”.  At  that,  without  acknowledging  the legitimacy of the character of its formation, he acknowledged the fact of existence of new government (“today new government is being formed”, “who comes to power” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014]).

The situation that arose in Ukraine after 21 February 2014 V.Yanukovich described by means of the metaphors of illegality and chaos emphasizing them with the signs of violence: “terror”, “militants”, “bloody scenario”, “saturnalia of extremism”. As a result, the parliament took “unexampled decisions” by force of “violence over deputies” that led Ukraine into “deadlock”, “anarchy”, “chaos”.

At  the  same  time,  describing  the  events  i  that  made  him  leave  Ukraine V.Yanukovich used the metaphor of overturn intensified by the metaphors of violence and fear. As for the metaphor of overturn, the same as in case of identification of the government there were somewhat contrast signs in his rhetoric: “example of coup d’etat”, “the power was seized”, “usurpation of power”, but “nobody overthrew me”.

The mentioned above metaphors of violence and fear/intimidation ran through all speeches and statements of V.Yanukovich. They were used as widely as possible, and their key signs were used to intensify other metaphors. In this case the metaphor of violence was used to illustrate the protesters and their leaders (”armed people”, “radicals”, “militants”, “bandits”, “hawks”), their actions (“bloodshed”, “terror”, “brigandism”, “vandalism”, “shot”, “hit”, “shower stones”, “terror”, “burn”, “rob”) that were aimed to deputies, V.Yanukovich and his surroundings (“bloodshed of my near and dear”, “they shot at my car”, “shower stones on deputies”), as well as tools that they used (“illegal arms”, “automatic arms”, “stones”, “Molotov cocktails”, “rifled weapon”, “automatic rifles”).

The metaphor of violence generated the metaphor of fear/intimidation that was used in two directions. On one hand, it was intimidating deputies, public officers and ordinary people (“panic”, “threats”, “pursuit”). On the other hand, it was intimidating Yanukovich himself and his family. And that is when the metaphors of fear showed up in spite of V.Yanukovich’s numerous denials of being scared. They additionally suggest about the contrary (“to secure my safety”, “going through South-East of the country that is still safer” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014], “in such circumstances I can’t risk my family’, “physical intimidation”, “ask the government of RF to secure my safety” [Viktor Yanukovich's statement 2014], “I have no fear” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014]).

Within these two metaphors (of violence and fear) V.Yanukovich clearly described his key enemies who, in his opinion, were guilty in “chaos”, “terror” and “bloodshed” in Ukraine. At the very beginning he identified the leaders of the opposition as “bandits” “who are terrorizing all country and Ukrainian  people today”. But later V.Yanukovich used the construction “leaders of the opposition”, which is neutral, having switched aggressive naming to “Yarosh, Tygnybok, Parubiy” who “arouse fear in Israel” and “promote violence”. So, for describing enemies V.Yanukovich used invective vocabulary and identified them with the following  signs:  “nationalist,  pro-fascist  rogues”,  “radical  forces  presented on maydan,… and in other regions”, “hawks and militants of maydan”, “nationalists and banderovtsy”, “riffraffs” along with “betrayers” in the Party of regions.

V.Yanukovich saw his own role in these events differently depending on the course of events. So, during the interview to journalists in Kharkiv he took the role of a defender of “those people who are being persecuted by bandits” emphasizing this with the story about the necessity to afford protection of V.Rybak and A.Klyuev (“I took him with me and then sent to Donetsk by car” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014]). He identified himself as a defender of people in international negotiations as well (“I will call on all foreign observers, mediators” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014]).

But  in  his  further  statements  the  defender  role  transformed  into  a peacemaker role. So, V.Yanukovich said that “no power is worth a drop of blood”, that he “does not accept any other ways of settling questions but peaceful”, and that “there is no other person more interested” than he that “everything ends in a peaceful way” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference of 2014].

Also his rhetoric somewhat varies in different by dates statements as for tasks that Yanukovich set for himself and the main ways of solving. So, during the interview to the journalists in Kharkiv he outlined the following tasks for himself in the situation created:

To do everything possible in order not to allow further bloodshed;
To do everything possible to defend the country from breakup;
Do not resign and do not leave the country;
To continue struggle for future of Ukraine;
To do everything possible till the end of his life, to stay with people of Ukraine.

But the rhetoric of the first public speech on 22 February 2014 proved that he did not realize how exactly to act in the public field in the nearest time for solving these tasks. He did not have any specific plan for overcoming the crisis and the confrontation (“I don’t know yet what I am going to do”, “I met people, consulted”, “I am going to continue meeting people”, “will seek for ways”, “I hope I will carry out negotiations these days” [Video of V.Yanukovich’s interview 2014]. But at the press conference on 28 February 2014 in Rostov V.Yanukovich announced his specific perspective of the way out of the crisis in Ukraine – it was fulfillment of the provisions of the Agreement signed with the representatives of the opposition. In this context the metaphor of struggle was almost not peculiar to him (its single signs without identification of ways of struggle – “I will struggle”) as the ways of completing the task of overcoming the confrontation transformed into demands to the opposition (“Abandon the power!”, “Stop this illegality”, “Pull yourself together!”, “Leave and do not allow more illegality and distress of Ukrainian people” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014]).

It is interesting that the metaphor of apologizing was also peculiar to V.Yanukovich. Its addressees were “veterans”, “Ukrainian people”, those “who suffered and are suffering”, “soldiers of Berkut”. He first of all apologized for not been able to keep the stability in the country and allowed illegality establish after the events on 21 of February 2014. V.Ynukovich also apologized to soldiers of Berkut that they “innocently injured”. He described them using the signs of the metaphor of heroes (“courageous people”, “held out unarmed”) having denied that the police had arms but assuming that they appeared for self-defense “when they were shot at” and “when there was a life threat” during the attacks of “mass character” [Transcript of V.Yanukovich’s press conference 2014].

Thus in V.Yanukovich’s reality he remains a legally elected and legitimate President of Ukraine who did not acknowledge any laws adopted by the parliament after 21 February 2014, demanded the return to fulfilling the provisions of the Agreement signed with the representatives of the opposition, he considered the situation in the country as chaos and illegality that was caused by radicals’, nationalists’, bandits’ actions through applying violence, intimidation and threats.


Signing of the Agreement about regulation of the crisis in Ukraine was not only the basis for construction of different realities. V.Yanukovich’s reality and the realities of protests participants disagree completely. The protesters did not acknowledge the Agreement; the leaders of the opposition signed the Agreement without having agreed with Maydan; the key goal – dismissal of V.Yanukovich – was not achieved. Later on the leaders of the oppositions tried to avoid the signing of the Agreement.

For V.Yanukovich the Agreement became the sign around which he constructed the reality of the coup d’etat which signs in many things reflected the protesters’ reality. Now V.Yanukovich called them bandits, blamed for blood scenario and claimed for fulfillment of the valid Agreement.

The President of RF Volodymyr Putin took the Agreement as a basis of his reality as well. Appealing to it he constructed the reality of putsch in Ukraine, non- recognition of new government, legitimacy of V.Yanukovich’s authorities who remained the President of Ukraine. On the basis of this reality he started intervention into Ukraine.

Further events that happened in Ukraine expanded these realities even more, having filled them with new signs and fastened already existing ones: “pseudo referendum”, “public governor”, “repressions”, “occupants” and other. Political decisions taken on basis of these constructed realities resulted in annexation of the AR Crimea, a possibility of annexation of eastern oblasts of Ukraine or federalization and breakdown of the state, as in both realities there are their readers who strongly believe their authors.

Substitution of realities when connotation displaces denotation became possible owing to ignoring during all history of independence of Ukraine by all authors the need of constructing the center of single Ukrainian text structure where signs close and clear all over the territory of Ukraine would be included. On the contrary, within all period the authors played with their readers intensifying signs that split the society and unite only their readers as for example the “second state language”.

Today all authors have a super goal to unite all readers of Ukraine regardless of the result of the further confrontation, the country is already split. It is necessary to fill in the text with the signs uniting people to Ukraine. These might be metaphors of family and land (here parents are buried, here children were born); of unity and possession (we, our land/home/country), of wealth and variety (we are wiser as we can speak more languages; country of rich cultures); of home (here we build life – home – Ukraine); love (your love is a part of history of our country; it is a country of people who you love); of peace (country of peace; we are for life); of justice (Ukraine of equal people) etc.