Ukraine’s ‘unsung heroes’: NGOs leading democratic renewal


Ukraine’s citizens have high hopes for the recently-elected president, are less pessimistic over the country’s trajectory and support the Donbas region remaining part of Ukraine, according to a nationwide poll from the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research:

Sixty-seven percent of Ukrainians approve of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s activities. Moreover, 48 percent of Ukrainians expect the economic situation in Ukraine to improve over the next 12 months, compared to just 14 percent in IRI’s September 2018 poll. Similarly, in contrast to IRI’s September 2018 poll, the number of Ukrainians who felt pessimistic about the future dropped from 71 percent to 39 percent in this most recent poll. The survey also shows a continued increase in support for the country’s further transatlantic integration: 59 percent of Ukrainians favor European Union integration and 53 percent support NATO integration.


“The relatively high levels of optimism revealed in this poll are a promising sign for the health of Ukrainian democracy ahead of July’s snap parliamentary elections,” said IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. “It is crucial that the government and the new parliament demonstrate their determination to live up to the hopes placed in them by redoubling their commitment to addressing the issues that matter most to the Ukrainian people.”

A primary catalyst of Ukraine’s resilience has been the rebirth of its civil society in the wake of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, argues analyst Tudor Mihailescu. NGOs and citizen groups have taken a proactive role in addressing the country’s most intractable problems around countering public corruption, streamlining governance processes and increasing accountability. Among these organizations, three stand out through how they use technology innovations to strengthen Ukrainian society: SocialBoost, Dozorro and Centre UA, he writes for Forbes:

  • SocialBoost is a Ukrainian tech NGO founded in 2014 that develops technological projects with high social impact. The organization’s mission is to connect the tech start-up community with the government to solve pressing Ukrainian challenges in various fields such as participatory democracy, open data, legal tech, or government transparency….
  • The AI-powered monitoring platform DoZorro (meaning “watchdog” in Ukrainian)… is a civic initiative that leverages an online and offline community of activists to exercise control over public procurement and empower society to detect, react to and report wrongdoings in public contracts. …
  • In 2011, Centre UA co-founded the Chesno Movement an influential watchdog initiative that monitors the transparency, accountability and openness of political parties and elected representatives. During the local elections in 2015, Chesno brought together more than 75 analysts and 500 volunteers who analyzed the track record of more than 1200 politicians in all 24 regions of Ukraine. ….In addition, Centre UA [a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy] has developed two digital tools for tracking the financial expenses of political parties. Zoloto Partiy (Gold of the Parties) is a digital repository of parties’ financial reports. It allows the public to check revenue and expenses, structure them by category, and search by donor. RTWT

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