UkraineAlert

The dramatic detainment of Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov by detectives from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) at Kyiv's Boryspil Airport after a long absence from the country demonstrates why Ukraine desperately needs an anti-corruption court. While Trukhanov has long been suspected of mafia ties and  involvement in multiple corrupt schemes, the Solomiansky District Court released Trukhanov without bail, instead requiring only the personal guarantee of Poroshenko Bloc MP Dmytro Golubov.

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Until recently, Ukrainian culture was perceived internationally as a subset of Russian culture. Even now, after Ukraine has had almost twenty-seven years of independence and with hundreds of years of history behind it, Ukrainian history is often presented as Russian. Mykola Gogol, Volodymyr the Great, the Kyivan Rus, Anne of Kyiv—all of this is Ukrainian, but has long been skillfully and fraudulently presented as Russian. The history of Ukraine has been rewritten, changed, and interpreted for years to fit Russians’ own taste and order.

This even includes Ukrainians’ current achievements. Why, for example, on the posters in Prague advertising shows by Onuka, the Ukrainian electro-folk band, does the description refer to a "Russian artist"? During a tour to France, why is the word "Ukraine" not mentioned anywhere on posters for the National Opera and Ballet of Ukraine, which is described as the "Russian Ballet"?

The more important, bigger questions are, why does Russia use Ukraine’s achievements as material for promoting its own culture? And what should Ukraine do to finally detach itself from Russia, including on the cultural front?

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One of the Russians attending the Munich Security Conference last week tweeted that based on the speeches he had heard, Ukraine was an afterthought in Europe. Nothing would comfort Moscow more than to believe that for the West, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is merely a minor concern. That would make the tasks of obstructing the implementation of the Minsk accords and steadily undermining Ukraine through military pressure, economic warfare, terrorism, and information warfare much easier.

But even if the tweet was wholly incorrect, this Russian gloss on the proceedings there, taken in the context of last week’s other news, proves two conclusions.

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In December 2014, President Petro Poroshenko granted citizenship to three foreign technocrats, Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavičius, American Natalie Jaresko, and Georgian Alexander Kvitashvili, who were nominated for cabinet positions. The foreign masterminds were expected to contribute expert advice to overcome the severe economic and defense threats facing Ukraine.

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavičius announced his resignation on February 3, 2016, claiming the government wasn’t committed to fighting corruption.

The 42-year-old businessman was in Ukraine’s government for 500 days, and he’s got some unusual insights into what went wrong.

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For those of us who were on the ground in Kyiv, Ukraine, in the middle of the burning barricades from February 18 to 20, 2014, we could have no idea where or when or how the revolution would end. During those three February days, more than one hundred were killed, thousands were wounded, and dozens went missing. Visiting the site of Ukraine’s revolution on the fourth anniversary of its bloodiest days, I offer these reflections.

The Maidan is a moving place on these anniversaries; relatives place candles and flowers at the sites where their loved ones were killed, and strangers do the same.

One of the youngest to die on February 20 was 17-year-old Nazar Voytovych. There is a memorial to him, with his photo and some poetry which are attached to a tree just on the corner of the entrance to Globus and Hotel Ukrayina. I passed by the makeshift monument erected in the hours after he lost his life and it has hardly changed: a lady crossing herself repeatedly, probably a relative, but perhaps a stranger mourning a life lost too soon, stood watch.

The other thing that struck me as I walked around this year was the number of older people who were there with grandchildren. It’s almost like they're making extra certain that these kids understand and appreciate what happened, pointing to the faces etched on the memorial stones. These are the heroes who stood in defiance of the cruel regime that was looting the country.

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In the last three decades, Ukraine has experienced three dramatic changes that have often been referred to as revolutions. But were they genuinely revolutionary?

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The Russian presidential election will take place on March 18. The outcome of the election is obvious: Vladimir Putin will keep his seat. However, although the name of the president won’t change, the country will.

March 18 won’t just mark the end of the election campaign. It will also launch Putin’s last term, which will expire in 2024. March 19 will be the first of 2,190 days after which a new life will begin in Russia, a life no one knows anything about. Many in Russia have had the sense for a long time that an era is ending. Now we know the exact dates.

At that point, Putin will have four options to choose from.

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On February 18, 2014, the most tragic part of the Revolution of Dignity started; more than one hundred people were killed, several dozens went missing, and over a thousand were wounded in Kyiv on February 18-20.

Yevhenia Zakrevska, the leading lawyer of the so-called Heavenly Hundred families who lost loved ones on the Maidan during this period, gave a detailed interview describing the status of the cases.

What needs to be investigated? All of the crimes committed during the Revolution of Dignity have been consolidated into one solid “Maidan Case” that comprises 89 criminal proceedings in relation to the killings of 91 persons (78 protestors and 13 law enforcement officials).

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Women’s rights have made major strides in Ukraine since 2014. In particular, elevating the coordination of the government’s gender equality policies to the office of the Vice Prime Minister for EU and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, has led to real breakthroughs.

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Ukraine has decisively moved toward the West. Previously pulled between East and West, Ukrainians are now more united on key issues that had previously rankled the country for decades. More Ukrainians want educational instruction in Ukrainian, greater numbers prefer EU and NATO membership, and support for democracy far outstrips support for a strongman.

At the same time, the ongoing war waged by Russia and pro-Kremlin separatists has added new fault lines, and these divides will likely be exploited by politicians in the lead up to the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.

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