The struggling middle class helped rebuild Ukraine – now it’s in grave danger

Despite high education levels, Ukraine is categorised as a lower middle-income nation that is among Europe’s poorest, writes Borzou Daragahi

Sunday 24 April 2022 14:19
<p>Alex Dayrabekov, his wife Anna and their newborn son Arthur </p>

Alex Dayrabekov, his wife Anna and their newborn son Arthur

He was a child of the repressive and insular Soviet Union, born in the Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, along the Dnieper River south of Kyiv. He had been indoctrinated during his youth with the ideas of Vladimir Lenin and communism, which he embraced.

But then the Soviet Union collapsed, and the world opened up for Alex Dayrabekov. So, too, did the possibilities for him in his own Ukraine, where he became an exemplar of a middle class that has helped remake the country and is now under grave threat by Russia’s ferocious war.

“The middle class in Ukraine is really small, really tiny”, says the 46-year-old business consultant, who fled the now-devastated Kyiv suburb of Irpin with his wife and newborn child just as Russian forces attacked the country. “We have either very rich people or very poor people. Middle class in Ukraine is still very much in formation.”

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