Five years after Euromaidan: assessing Ukraine’s grassroots activism


Ukrainian civil society activists protested near the Presidential Administration and the office of Yulia Tymoshenko’s party on Feb. 4, demanding justice for slain activist Kateryna Gandziuk, the Kyiv Post reports. Gandziuk, who was attacked with acid on July 31, died in hospital on Nov. 4. The police arrested five suspects, including an organizer of the attack. But investigators still haven’t managed to find who ordered the murder.

Carnegie Europe

Pockets of energetic local Ukrainian activists are improving people’s lives and holding officials accountable, but foreign donors tend to overlook the important work they are doing, notes Natalia Shapovalova (right), a visiting fellow at Carnegie Europe.

While grassroots groups do not need to receive large donations or become professional NGOs that align with Western standards, there are a number of ways Western donors (who still constitute the main source of funding for Ukrainian civil society) can support them, she writes for Carnegie’s Civic Research Network:

  • First, foreign donors should decentralize their funding to reach outlying regions of Ukraine, especially small towns and rural areas.
  • Second, such donors should help Ukrainian civil society organizations learn how to raise money from local communities and authorities, and they should also introduce co-funding arrangements to further encourage local fundraising.
  • Third, they need to promote civil society infrastructure in the different regions of Ukraine by supporting civil society resource centers, community foundations, and other public spaces.
  • Fourth, foreign donors can help facilitate other forms of knowledge exchanges, skills development, and connectivity among grassroots civic groups within a single region and among different regions. That way, activists can learn from each other and organize in cross-regional networks and coalitions. Such initiatives would help further strengthen Ukrainian social capital, a key legacy of the Euromaidan movement.
  • Fifth, donors can design educational and training programs to support civic activists who try to enter local politics. Donors need to reconsider their practice of denying any support to civil society actors that seek to enter politics. While foreign aid to Ukrainian civil society should remain nonpartisan, there is a need to strengthen the influence of civil society on politics.

The above video was produced as a part of the Journalist Exchange Program by Media Development Foundation with the support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Content is independent of the donor.

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