Ukraine’s new generation of civic activists emerging?


Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau said Wednesday it had detained a deputy defense minister and another top military official for allegedly embezzling millions in state funding through an illegal oil-purchase scheme. The announcement was the highest-profile indictment against any official since the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) launched a graft case against the now-deposed tax service chief Roman Nasirov in March, AFP reports:

Corruption has long ravaged the crisis-torn former Soviet republic and been a top concern of both Ukraine’s foreign partners and global financial support organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF)….Poroshenko said the current draft law on anti-corruption courts had problems and required broader consensus.

“That is why there is a need for all democratic political forces and civil society to get united,” President Petro Poroshenko said.

NABU was established in 2014 as part of Ukraine’s reform drive under which it promised to root out graft and modernise the economy in exchange for billions of dollars in international funding, Reuters adds.

But a new generation of political activists may be emerging, one which rejects the corruption and indolence of the past.

Credit: Melinda Haring, ACUS

Few would ever dream of challenging Vitali Klitschko, the three-time world heavyweight champion and mayor of Kyiv, in any kind of competition. But Sergiy Gusovsky (left) isn’t like most people. Nearly a foot shorter and a political novice, Gusovsky went after Klitschko in the 2015 local elections. Even though the boxing champion was reelected mayor, Gusovsky grabbed a respectable 7.7 percent of the vote, and today leads the second-largest faction in the Kyiv city council, notes The Atlantic Council’s Melinda Haring, a former Penn Kemble fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy:

Gusovsky’s embrace of a political career isn’t quite as surprising as it might at first seem. The electrical engineer first reinvented himself in his thirties as a worldly foodie, when he opened Osteria Pantagruel in 1995. Three years ago, Gusovsky pivoted into politics after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

He had been active during the 2004 Orange Revolution and was offered a government post, but ultimately decided that the timing and position were wrong. But after the Euromaidan Revolution, Gusovsky jumped into politics out of “an innate feeling that you’re responsible for the place where you live. I was born here, I live here. I belong to Ukraine,” he told me recently. RTWT

In Ukraine’s occupied Donbas region, bloggers — some of the only reliable sources of information left — are feeling the pressure from all sides, Oleksiy Matsuka, editor-in-chief of Novosti Donbassa, writes for Open Democracy.

Civil society was the main driver of anti-corruption reforms, which were among the most prominent demands of the Maidan. Recently activists have been experiencing increased government pushback and persecution, which threaten to stall the process permanently. At a forthcoming forum at the National Endowment for Democracy, Daria Kaleniuk and Taras Shevchenko will discuss the role civil society has played in the reform process, particularly in designing and deploying anti-corruption tools that have markedly increased government transparency. They will also discuss prospects for furthering reforms and maintaining Ukraine’s pro-democratic course.

Post-Maidan Reforms in Ukraine

Three Steps Forward – Two Steps Back

Daria Kaleniuk (right)

Executive Director, Anti-Corruption Action Center

Taras Shevchenko

Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Rule of Law

Board Co-chair, Reanimation Package of Reforms, 2016-2017

Moderated by:

Joanna Rohozinska

Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for Democracy

Friday, October 13, 2017


Lunch 12:00-12:30pm

1025 F St. NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20004


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