What, exactly, does the ‘Europe’ the Ukrainian protesters are referring to stand for? It can’t be reduced to a single idea: it spans nationalist and even fascist elements but extends also to the idea of what Etienne Balibar calls égaliberté, freedom-in-equality, the unique contribution of Europe to the global political imaginary, even if it is in practice today mostly betrayed by European institutions and citizens themselves. Between these two poles, there is also a naive trust in the value of European liberal-democratic capitalism. Europe can see in the Ukrainian protests its own best and worst sides, its emancipatory universalism as well as its dark xenophobia.
Zizek calls on the European left, as well as the leftist opposition to Putin in Russia, to engage with the Maidan and give the Ukrainian revolution "a truly emancipatory dimension." In short, instead of treating Ukrainians like suckers falling for an EU con job, the left should take inspiration from the Maidan to the extent that its expresses a vision of an ideal Europe -- presumably including Russia -- that Europe should be made to live up to. Zizek acknowledges that this would be hard work, and that may be why European leftists have kept their distance from the Maidan. There may be irony at work here. The western liberal media constantly claims that Putin wants to crush the Maidan because he is afraid of some example it might set for dissidents in his own country. It would be ironic, then, if the international left, whom Zizek considers the Maidan's rightful allies, should let it die because they're afraid of the example it sets.