Time for the West to ‘get real’ about Ukraine


Officials in the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy say a municipal councilor has been shot dead just hours after the broadcast of a television interview he gave about corruption within the city’s utility services, RFE/RL reports:

Local police said Mykhaylo Binusov, head of the Cherkasy branch of the Ukrainian Union of Patriots (UKROP) party, died at the scene of the shooting late on September 28. …Binusov was appointed on September 22 as the acting director of a city council department that oversees the management and operations of municipal utility services. Cherkasy Mayor Anatoliy Bondarenko said Binusov’s main task at that point was to bring an end to corruption within the utility services.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau NABU is checking allegations against Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (pictured), one of the most resilient figures in government, Transitions Online reports. A court ordered the probe, acting on a complaint from the U.S. government-backed Anti-Corruption Action Center, First Deputy Prosecutor General Dmytro Storozhuk said 13 September, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

Ukraine is likely to emerge as one of several key tests of the transatlantic relationship, according to Carnegie analyst Erik Brattberg.

It is time for the West to get real about Ukraine, according to Roman Sohn, a civil society activist and a columnist for Ukrainska Pravda, an investigative website, and political analyst Ariana Gic who contributes to VOX Ukraine, a think tank in Kiev. The progress of reforms needs to be acknowledged, and praised where deserved, especially as Ukraine pursues some impressive innovations regarding government transparency in public procurement, asset declarations, and access to public information, to name but a few, they write for the EU Observer:

If positive changes are not acknowledged, the loud criticism by populists will drown out and devalue all reformist efforts. Ukraine is expected to pursue reforms ahead of defending its sovereignty. Under these circumstances, the least the West can do is manage its expectations of those reforms, helping Ukraine ensure it can walk its path towards a thriving democracy free from Russia’s oppression.

Ukraine’s future rests on whether its judicial reforms will bring about the rule of law for the first time in its history, or whether political influence continues to contaminate its system. It appears the latter is the case, analyst Diane Francis writes for the Atlantic Council:

Today, 111 new Supreme Court nominees were proposed to President Petro Poroshenko for his signature to begin work next month. However, twenty-five of the 111 were rejected by the Public Integrity Council due to past behavior or concerns about their track record as judges.  IMF pressure to create a tough anticorruption court must continue. Instead, Ukraine proposes an antitrust chamber within the system which activists say won’t work….Whatever the debate in future, the appointment of these twenty-five will undermine what could have been the creation of a new, improved, completely untainted, and well paid Supreme Court that could start creating a Ukraine where justice is no longer for sale.

“If civil society does not transform itself into real political structure, it remains a player in a vacuum talking to itself and it will not contribute to democratization,” argues Susann Worschech, a research associate at the European University Viadrina. Oleg Rybachuk, an initiator of several civil society organizations, disagrees. If governmental structures are corrupt, the only way forward is for people to self-organise and achieve reforms, he told Democracy International.

After four years of ongoing conflict, Ukraine is home to the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with nearly 1.6 million Ukrainians officially registered as IDPs, the Atlantic Council adds:

One third of the displaced Ukrainian population plans to integrate into local communities rather than return to their original home, creating a unique model of local support and integration during conflict. In their issue brief, Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace, authors Lauren Van Metre, Steven E. Steiner, and Melinda Haring examine Ukraine as a possible model for an “enlightened” resettlement process that promotes social cohesion, democratic development, and a constituency for peace.

Please join the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center for the launch of Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace, a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council and the United States Institute of Peace.

Keynote remarks:   The Hon. Marcy Kaptur Representative of the 9th District of Ohio US House of Representatives

A conversation with:   Ms. Melinda Haring Editor, UkraineAlert Atlantic Council [a former Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy]; Mr. Jock Mendoza-Wilson Director of International and Investor Relations System Capital Management;   Dr. Lauren Van Metre Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs The George Washington University.    Moderated by: Ambassador John Herbst Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Atlantic Council.

Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons  Hold a Key to Peace US Capitol Visitor Center First St NW, Washington, DC Congressional Meeting Room North Tuesday, October 3, 2017 10:00 a.m.


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