UkraineAlert

This year’s Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference, known as the Ukrainian Davos, did not disappoint. Held in Kyiv on September 13-15, the meeting featured the obligatory celebrities and A-list dazzle. Bono turned up in purple-tinted glasses. Host Victor Pinchuk unveiled a silver spaceship-like creation by Japanese artist Marico Mori urging everyone to focus on the future. The American punk band Gogol Bordello was electric.

But the real drama took place on the second day, when BBC HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur took to the stage to interview three leading presidential candidates, one at a time. He interviewed frontrunner and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, former defense minister and leading reform candidate Anatoily Gritsenko, and rock star Slava Vakarchuk, who may or may not be running.

Read More

Two Saturdays ago was a gloomy day in Kyiv, but the weather didn’t manage to dampen the mood at the opening ceremony of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, as its new students marked the beginning of its fourth year. ULA is a private, year-long residential-based initiative that prepares students who are between the ages of 16 to 20 for leadership positions by focusing on their intellectual, physical, and emotional growth. On September 8, 250 new students from every oblast in Ukraine and a few from overseas joined the ULA community. 

ULA seeks to raise up a generation of talented young people who are already taking responsibility for their country in order to influence Ukraine’s reform process and politics. Its strategy is long-term.  

Read More

Next month, Europe’s leading budget airline will begin regular flights from Ukraine to a host of EU destinations. This is the latest milestone in a Ukrainian aviation boom that is seeing additional routes announced on a weekly basis and record passenger numbers at airports across the country. Each new flight serves to broaden Ukrainian horizons and anchor the country more firmly within the wider international community. Meanwhile, there has not been a single direct flight between Ukraine and Russia since October 2015.

The changes in Ukraine’s air travel industry are just one of the many ways in which the country has turned away from Russia and gone global since the climax of the Euromaidan Revolution in early 2014 and the start of Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war. Since then, Russia’s share of Ukrainian exports has tumbled from 24 percent to around 9 percent, while Russian imports to Ukraine have halved. As economic ties between Kyiv and Moscow loosen, Ukrainian businesses have begun to discover life after Russia.

Read More

Ukraine has less than four months before the presidential campaign season begins in earnest on December 31. The media is already full of populist promises and ads defaming political competitors. Outdoor advertising is dominated by catchy slogans and the old faces of party leaders. TV channels are being redistributed between their oligarch owners.

What can parliament and the government accomplish before the start of the election season? Not much. We must be realistic and prioritize. Among the many vital reforms Ukraine needs, the focus should be on those that enable an environment for further transformations and ensure the country’s resilience in the face of a possible worsening of the political climate following the elections. That list includes at least six specific reforms.  

Read More

Ukraine’s presidential campaign season has unofficially begun. Almost half a year before the presidential race in March 2019, candidates have already settled on basic strategies.

Let's analyze their messages—how they separate themselves from their competitors and try to create an attractive image, what ideas "sell," how they struggle with criticism, negativity, compromise, and ultimately, how they plan to win the elections.

Read More

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned by Russian forces in 2014, is on the verge of death. More than one hundred days ago, he began a hunger strike to demand that Russian President Vladimir Putin free sixty-four Ukrainian political prisoners being held in Russia.  Since then, Sentsov has lost almost 70 pounds and suffered cardiac complications. In early August, he confided to his lawyer that “the end was near” and this week he told his cousin that his limbs are going numb. Unless the international community takes urgent action, his uncompromising commitment to freedom will soon kill him.

Read More

On September 7, Ukraine inched closer to a globally recognized international church. That day, Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew I placed Ukraine under the canonical jurisdiction of US Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Canadian Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton who head Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in both countries under Constantinople’s canonical jurisdiction. Since 1685, the Russian Orthodox Church has claimed Ukraine lies within its canonical territory, but no longer. The two appointments are preparation for granting the Orthodox Church in Ukraine autocephaly (independence) from the Russian Orthodox Church.   

It’s no exaggeration to write that the granting of autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church to Ukraine’s millions of Orthodox believers is as significant as the disintegration of the USSR for Ukraine.

Read More

Corruption remains Ukraine’s greatest scourge. But while there are ample examples of it around the country, signs are emerging that government is heeding civil society’s cries for change. A new tax policy implemented in July 2018 is a key example: the fight to change this policy in order to directly reduce corruption is being waged and led not just by civil society—government is also responding. 

Read More

Ukraine’s Maidan reformers had a real shot at reaching a tipping point and changing the country once and for all. In 2014, the reform-oriented Samopomich party, led by Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, performed far better than expected in the parliamentary elections just a few months after street protests ejected pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovych. The Lviv-based party took thirty-three seats and joined the governing coalition; its roster included a number of new faces from business, academia, and civil society. 

Today, the party is no longer part of the governing coalition; its parliamentarians now describe themselves as troublemakers. Their numbers in parliament have shrunk, Sadovyi’s approval ratings have dropped precipitously, and the party looks set to become a regional party rather than a national one after the 2019 elections.

And now the group has turned to infighting. On September 6, the party expelled one of its most promising politicians, Sergiy Gusovsky, the head of Samopomich faction in the Kyiv city council.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Read More

Reporting on the recent killing of Alexander Zakharchenko in Donetsk, Ukraine, has enraged many, and with good reason. Far too many reports from top outlets included the phrase or something similar, “Moscow denies sending regular troops and heavy weaponry to Ukraine, the rebels, or separatists.” Of course, Moscow regularly issues such denials. However, the time to simply report such claims by Moscow as if they are of equal validity to Ukraine’s claims is long past.

“Moscow denies sending troops and weapons into Ukraine” should always be followed by “despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

If a journalist does not know that there is abundant open-source evidence of Russian military involvement in Ukraine, they shouldn’t be journalists. If they repeat Moscow’s claim, in some blind commitment to the idea of “balance” or for any other reason, they are leaving their audience uninformed, and that is a disservice. Claims made by Kyiv and Moscow should not be treated equally; there is overwhelming evidence to substantiate Kyiv’s claims about the origins and continuation of the war in the Donbas, and that evidence proves Moscow’s claims to be outrageously false.

Guilty news outlets include the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The Financial Times, RFE/RL, and the LA Times.

Read More