As reforms stall in Ukraine, the tragic killing of a young activist could become a rallying cry for systemic change, notes analyst Diane Francis. The year for Ukrainians began with the disturbing news that the naked body of a young activist lawyer was fished out of a river in Kyiv. Her name was Iryna Nozdrovsky (left), and her death came after she took on the country’s corrupt legal system, seeking justice after her sister was killed in 2015 by a drunk driver, she writes for The American Interest:
The complicating factor was that the culprit was the nephew of a prominent judge, and thus able to manipulate the system, but she prevailed. This summer, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. But on December 29, he requested amnesty and Nozdrovsky appeared in court to have the sentence upheld. She won again, but that day, the killer’s father said to her, “You will end badly.” Days later, she was murdered. Police charged the father, but few in Ukraine believe he will ever go to jail, even if he is guilty.
Throughout its recent political upheavals, Ukraine has looked to Europe as a beacon of liberal democracy. Yet Europe has been unwilling to reciprocate as it did with other countries in the socialist bloc. Europe’s loss, argues Andrii Portnov. Ukraine has much to teach Europe about cultural diversity, he writes for Eurozine:
Ukraine can be described as too big, too complex, too close to Russia both geographically and historically. Ukraine has often been (and still is) denied the right to exist. And yet it has survived – despite ‘the Russian spring’ and profound economic problems, despite energy dependence and a weak state. The miracle of Ukraine’s survival in 2014 still needs to be studied seriously. To do so, one would need to look closely at the structures and institutions (often informal) that keep Ukrainian society together, and which seem to be stronger even than the Maidan revolutions.
The next few months will make or break Ukraine’s latest struggle for the rule of law and democracy, Francis suggests:
Independent polls [from the International Republican Institute – above] show that the eradication of corruption is a bigger concern among the populace than the threat of further aggression by Russia. And as the nation prepares to head to the polls next year, Iryna’s tragedy may represent Ukraine’s “Tunisia” moment, a simple narrative illustrating the lack of social justice for all but a select few. In 2010, a young Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire when police took his wares away because he could not afford bribes. His story fueled the Arab Spring.