Melinda Haring

  • Is This Russia or Ukraine? Top Anti-Corruption Activist May Face Five Years in Prison on Bogus Charges

    In October 14, 2014, activists unveiled a three-meter high set of flesh-colored buttocks in front of Ukraine’s parliament. Giggles aside, the stunt was a serious one, meant to focus Kyiv’s attention on parliament’s foot dragging on corruption. An idiomatic expression in Ukrainian, “to be covered by an ass,” means that something awful will happen. Through a grotesque symbol that no one could look away from, activists warned parliamentarians that something awful would happen if they didn’t pass a raft of anti-corruption measures, including the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and a law that would require public officials to disclose their assets online.

    It worked. The bills passed, and are now seen as some of the country’s most notable reform measures.

    Read More
  • Ukraine’s Got Plenty of Young, Principled, Genuinely European-Oriented Politicians

    Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky recently claimed that “it’s not easy to find younger, more principled, genuinely European-oriented politicians in Ukraine, but they exist.”

    In fact, Mr. Bershidsky, it’s really not that hard. In 2017, we profiled the promising and idealistic Olena Sotnyk and Sergiy Gusovsky, a Ukrainian MP and a member of the Kyiv city council, respectively. And there are plenty more.

    For example, meet Victoria Voytsitska, a parliamentarian who more than meets Bershidsky’s definition. Voytsitska, 43, who has raven hair...

    Read More
  • People Are Wrong about the War in the Donbas, Says US Envoy

    2017 has been the most violent year of the conflict in eastern Ukraine since it began, according to Kurt Volker, US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations.

    "A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict and it’s stable and now we have...a ceasefire,” Volker said on December 19 during an event on peace in the Donbas at the Atlantic Council. “That’s completely wrong. It’s a crisis.”

    But negotiating an end to the conflict is difficult because of the role that Russia plays.

    Read More
  • Maybe We Were Wrong about Gas Reform

    It’s no secret that the Atlantic Council has been bullish on Ukraine’s reforms. In particular, we often cite gas reform as the one that massively curbed corruption in Ukraine since the Euromaidan. But after an hour-long conversation with Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev on December 8, I came away with a different picture.

    Since the thirty-nine-year-old soft-spoken CEO took over in 2014, Naftogaz has turned a profit for the first time in five years. It has also become the biggest user of the ProZorro e-procurement system that has saved taxpayers more than $1 billion, and it beat Russia in the Gazprom vs. Naftogaz case at the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal earlier this year. In other words, Kobolyev has had an incredible run.

    But gas reforms have stalled. Kobolyev said that he hasn’t seen much progress since May 2016.

    “Without [further] changes, nothing is possible,” he said during our interview in Washington.

    Read More
  • One Way Kyiv Can Recover from Its Very Bad Week

    Ukraine got a serious black eye last week when its parliament dismissed the outspoken chairman of its Anticorruption Committee and nearly fired the head of its independent anticorruption bureau. But there’s a clear way it can recover. After anticorruption reform, fixing Ukraine’s dismal health care system is a second priority for the Ukrainian public. Pushing ahead with health care reform might help repair some of last week’s damage.

    And luckily, there are distinct steps the government can take now to make real changes. On October 19, Ulana Suprun, the American-born doctor who is the acting Minister of Health in Ukraine, finally convinced parliament to pass far-reaching reform. There’s a big snag, however: President Petro Poroshenko hasn’t signed the bill yet, so implementation is delayed.

    “There’s...

    Read More
  • How Ukraine Can Not Only Survive but Thrive

    The timing couldn’t have been better. Ukraine’s war is dragging on, Russia is proposing a sham peacekeeping plan, the humanitarian crisis in the east is worsening, and the conflict is receiving increasingly fewer mentions in the international press. In this midst of this dismal news, Ukraine’s deputy speaker of parliament Oksana Syroid organized the Lviv Security Forum to figure a way out. Held November 29-December 1 on the campus of Ukrainian Catholic University in its new state-of-the-art library, the forum was meant to bolster the foreign policy credentials of the Lviv-based Samopomich Party and to convene international experts to discuss what should replace the shaky post-Cold War system.

    Lviv Mayor and head of the Samopomich...

    Read More
  • Q&A: How Can Ukraine Get a Better Grade on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index?

    Ukraine just received a marginally better grade on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, moving from 80th place in 2017 to 76th place in 2018. Kyiv reduced the cost of construction permits, strengthened minority investor protections, and reduced labor taxes. To put things in perspective, it’s easier to do business in Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Russia, and slightly easier in Greece and Uzbekistan. We asked Atlantic Council experts, UkraineAlert contributors, and businesspeople in Kyiv the following question: What five steps should the government undertake in 2018 to catapult Ukraine from its current place to the top 10?

    Andy Hunder, President, American Chamber of Commerce: The fact that Ukraine notched up four spots in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index is a...

    Read More
  • In Lviv, World-Class Learning Center Opens Where Soviets Wanted Drab Building

    On September 10, Ukrainian Catholic University opened a 64,874 square foot world-class library and educational center in Lviv, Ukraine. Ukrainian Catholic University, the first Catholic university in the former Soviet Union, strives to provide an open, progressive, and democratic learning environment for its students and the community.

    Canadian businessman and philanthropist James Temerty was the main funder behind the creation of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center.

    At the consecration ceremony, Ukrainian Catholic University President Bishop Borys Gudziak presented Temerty with a symbolic gold key to the center, saying, “May this key open not only this building, but hearts.”

    Read More
  • Ukrainians Are Protesting Again. Will It Amount to Anything?

    On October 19, several thousand protesters in Kyiv cheered as parliament passed a bill that will lift parliamentary immunity. It was not the only victory of the day; parliament approved major health care reform as well.

    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...

    Read More
  • The Future of Reform in Ukraine


    Read More