We meet at Gursky’s stunning new 500-square meter co-working space in Kyiv’s tallest commercial building to discuss Ukraine’s unique start-up potential.
“We want to export products, not people,” Gursky says.
Ukraine has a major problem. It’s hemorrhaging its most talented workforce. Seven percent of the country’s workers are abroad, which worries economists, experts, and the government. Ukrainians can easily make four times more in neighboring Poland, where the language is similar and the physical distance is nothing.
Gursky admits that most of his Ukrainian friends and classmates live abroad, in New York, Washington, and Silicon Valley, and he too lived in Washington for a time. Yet he remains bullish on Ukraine.
The thirty-three-year old founder of the NGO SocialBoost says that there’s no other place where he could go from a street activist who organized hackathons to an adviser to the prime minister in two short years.
Even as his Ukrainian friends make their lives abroad, he asks them with a straight face, “Don’t you have FOMO [fear of missing out]?”
Solontay, an educator and former city and regional council deputy, is betting that a new generation of Ukrainians—and more than a few of their elders—are ready for a party built on the democratic principles of grassroots activism, long-term vision, transparency, and true independence.
“We have a lot of parties in Ukraine officially. In reality, we have practically none,” Solontay said, describing them instead as virtual “fan clubs” with little ideology or internal debate about party platforms.
While Ukraine has committed to joining Euro-Atlantic institutions and embarked upon structural reforms, the overall situation in Ukraine remains uncertain. Even now, next year’s presidential and parliamentarian campaigns are already impacting decision making.
Given society’s widespread distrust of most current political parties and their leaders and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, radicalism is growing quickly.
In response, an independent group of Russian-speaking immigrants has released a letter that disputes these claims. Well-known human rights activists, filmmakers, writers, journalists, lawyers, scientists, engineers, university professors, medical doctors, artists, professionals in various areas, and ordinary Russian-speaking Americans have signed the response, which says that the Congress of Russian Americans (CRA) does not represent them or their values. Calling the CRA letter "yet another act " in Russia's ongoing info war against the United States, its 144 signatories say that they are "are appalled by the CRA’s audacity in their attempt to create an impression they speak for the entire Russian-speaking community."
A copy of the letter follows.
But now, the Presidential Administration and independent lawyers say that the law is invalid and unenforceable, based on a 2012 Constitutional Court decision. No one can be forced to publicly submit information about their private life without their consent.
A veteran of Ukrainian politics, Tymoshenko has been active since 1997 and her fortunes have waxed and waned. Over the years, she has assumed numerous roles: member of parliament, deputy prime minister, a leader of the Orange Revolution, prime minister, presidential candidate, and political prisoner. Tymoshenko has worked with three out of five of Ukraine’s presidents since independence—Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko, and Viktor Yanukovych.
Now she is the leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) political party. This group was formerly part of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which united several smaller parties, but the party abandoned the Tymoshenko Bloc in 2010 and it ceased to exist. Since then Batkivshchyna has been operating on its own. This is an apt symbol for the development of Tymoshenko’s career over the last few years.
Meanwhile, Putin’s Russia continues ravaging Ukraine, where more than 10,000 Ukrainians have died defending their country since 2014. It is still supporting or even orchestrating massive atrocities in Syria, and it is behind increasingly audacious cyber and disinformation attacks globally.
Welcome to Cold War 2.0: we are in it, and it’s time to fight back. Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon in a NATO country for the first time is the Kremlin’s latest benchmark. While Western military deterrence has so far stopped Russia from physically attacking NATO countries, allied deterrence in the non-kinetic sphere is failing spectacularly.
As a result, nationalism is a part of everyday life for the first time. Many people feel national pride and willingness to defend the nation; however, these feelings always have a tinge of ambiguity as they fluctuate between ethnic and civic conceptions of the nation.