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When Numbers Are Not Enough: The Strategic Use of Violence in Ukraine's 2014 Revolution

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Recent studies show that protest campaigns have a greater chance of success if they adopt nonviolent tactics, while the use of violence is often self-defeating. This article argues that violence may prove effective when combined with high popular mobilization, embedded in a generally non-violent movement and practiced against an unresponsive regime with low cost-tolerance threshold. Based on the case study of Ukraine's 2014 revolution, the article shows that the presence of an ideologically motivated agency skilled in violent techniques lowers the initial costs of generating violence, while the moral outrage in the face of regime backlash decreases further participation costs. If armed resistance on the part of protesters can increase the costs of a crackdown for the regime beyond its tolerance level, it will yield to protest demands.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2018

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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