The protest outside parliament, which some organizers had expected would bring at least 10,000 to the streets, peaked on October 17 at around four thousand.
By October 20, the fourth day of mass action, the ranks had fallen to a few hundred, and the tent city they had constructed was largely empty, with almost as many tents as protestors. On October 22, crowds gathered again, peaking at 1,500, around a third of those who had come out at the onset of protests; on October 23, a small band of protestors remained in the tent city around the parliament.
The demonstrators had three demands: lifting parliamentary immunity, changing the electoral system to an open-party list, and creating a National Anticorruption Court.
But these demands were lost amid the insurrectionist tenor of the protests, including some acts of violence by some in the crowd. The creation of a gauntlet of shame for the degradation of one pro-government parliamentary leader and the pelting of another with eggs further detracted from the message.
This was the third day that thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets to demand that President Petro Poroshenko establish an independent anticorruption court, change the electoral law, and lift parliamentary immunity or resign. The protests, which began on October 17, are the largest since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, which prompted former President Viktor Yanukovych to flee to Moscow and brought a pro-Western government to power. Since then, Ukraine has made serious but halting progress, thanks in large measure to Ukraine’s outspoken activists.
Protesters have been mainly holding signs and waving flags in front of the parliament building. Thousands of national guardsmen and riot police, probably ten times the number of actual protesters, have surrounded the building and put up barriers. Some see this as a signal that Poroshenko is afraid of the opposition.
Joined by Ukrainian rock star, activist, and CDDRL’s visiting scholar Svyatoslav Vakarchuk and former ambassador to Russia and the director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute Michael McFaul, the leaders spoke to a packed crowd of more than 200 people from the Stanford and local Ukrainian-American community on October 3.
These are promising if still limited developments. RT unambiguously qualifies as a Kremlin disinformation outfit and as an instrument of hostile foreign influence intended to weaken Western nations and the transatlantic alliance. Numerous studies have robustly unmasked the network’s tactics and synchronization with the Kremlin’s political agenda.
In January, the declassified intelligence report published jointly by the CIA, FBI, and NSA identified RT as a significant agent of influence during the 2016 presidential election. This assessment was based on the apparent social media success of RT’s pro-Trump and anti-Clinton coverage; the report cites that RT’s most popular video on Hillary Clinton, “How 100 Percent of the Clintons’ ‘Charity’ Went to [...] Themselves,” received more than nine million views on social media, while its most popular video on Donald Trump, “Trump Will Not Be Permitted to Win,” had 2.2 million views.
Yet contrary to the judgments of the report, most experts agree that RT’s impact on public opinion is minimal.
When Danylyuk took over after Natalie Jaresko stepped down in April 2016, expectations weren’t high, but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
However, the president suggested the creation of a multiparty parliamentary working group to develop such a draft law, which is worrisome. A working group is often a place where legislation goes to die in Ukraine.
Civil society and foreign partners should use all the leverage and technical assistance they can muster to ensure that the draft law is ready as soon as possible.
Health care is always a contentious issue in any country and one need only look at the United States as an example. But Ukraine’s corrupt, Soviet system is demonstrably inadequate; witness the fact that Ukrainian lifespans are eleven years shorter than they are in the rest of Europe.
This Thursday, a transformative package of reforms will be voted on in the Verkhovna Rada. These have been months in the making and already demonstrated benefits.
Acting Health Minister Dr. Ulana Suprun is confident that Ukraine’s lawmakers will adopt reforms now.
On October 11, as Olga Stefanyshyna, the executive director of Patients of Ukraine, was heading to work, she received a panicked call. The police had shown up and were turning the nonprofit’s office upside down grabbing documents.
This wasn’t a random occurrence. As part of an ongoing harassment campaign against anticorruption activists over the last several months, the police, prosecutors, and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) have been targeting Patients of Ukraine and another leading NGO—The All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)—on trumped-up charges; they claim that these NGOs “misused” funds from the international donor Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
This is a shameless lie. Both organizations are regularly audited by Global Fund auditors and no violations have ever been detected.
I acquired the freedom to write these columns by leaving my country. That was no small price to pay, so I'm disinclined to waste that freedom on the sloppy treatment of facts, which are often inconvenient to both sides of a conflict.
He compares two completely unrelated events—referenda in Crimea and Catalonia—as though they bear any similarity, and as though they carry the same moral weight.
“The Catalan situation draws comparisons with that in Crimea in 2014, and they are not as easy to dismiss as Catalan independence supporters might think,” he wrote.
Yes they are.