Ukraine ‘still involved in existential struggle’


After the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, the country will likely be stuck with an oligarch-linked president yet again. The two presidential front-runners are Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian linked to one of Ukraine’s most controversial oligarchs, and incumbent president Petro Poroshenko, an oligarch himself, say Vitaliy Shabunin Olena Halushka of the Kiev-based Anti-Corruption Action Center

From these results, it would be easy to conclude that Ukraine’s momentum for democratic reform is waning. But that’s not the case. In fact, the fight still rages on, they write for The Washington Post:

Tech 4 Dem

The people of Ukraine have learned how to get results, even with a resistant president. But five post-revolution years is too short a period to fully free the country from deeply rooted problems. Fostering new political leaders takes time. While this happens, it is important to pursue comprehensive political reform, including eliminating oligarchic influence over media, abolishing the immunity that members of parliament enjoy and reforming the electoral system.

Ukrainians know what they want: a normal, European democratic state free from Russia. A synergy of civil society, international partners and reformers in government will continue to push us in that direction, regardless of who becomes the next president. RTWT

The backdrop to the election was that “Ukraine is still involved in an existential struggle” fighting a war against Russia, said Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, The Kyiv Post adds:

He said he dealt with countries all over the world where election-rigging went unchecked and contrasted that to the voting that happened in Ukraine, which he called “clean” and where all the candidates had been allowed to express their views. He accepted there had been “no real EuroMaidan people” among those candidates with a real chance to get into the decisive round of elections, but said that nevertheless it was an enormous step forward for Ukraine and “I don’t think that Putin can very happy.”

Anders Aslund, an expert on the former Soviet states and a former economic adviser to the Ukrainian government, said that Zelenskiy was not a political or business “nobody” and that Zelenskiy knows exactly what makes Ukraine tick, The Kyiv Post adds:

Aslund said that Zelenskiy had built up a 1,000-strong company, proving his business proficiency and “he has managed to stay out of all dirty schemes as far as we know.” He added that Zelenskiy had as economic advisers two of Ukraine’s most able former ministers in post-Maidan governments, Aivaras Abromavicius and Oleksandr Danylyuk.

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