• As Some Bail, Denis Gursky Sees Ukraine as Land of Opportunity, and Thinks You Should Too

    It’s Easter Monday in Kyiv, a holiday, and no one is working except Denis Gursky. The affable Mariupol native has an anxiety-inducing to-do list, but you wouldn’t know it from his easy laugh and wide smile.

    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...

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  • How to Build a Real Political Party in Ukraine

    Oleksandr Solontay is trying to accomplish the political equivalent of pushing Ukraine’s winter snow uphill. In a country that still struggles to shake its addiction to oligarchs and other figureheads despite multiple attempts at revolution, the thirty-seven-year old is aiming to construct a political party from the ground up.

    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.

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  • Why Ukraine’s Radical Parties Are Sitting Pretty for Upcoming Elections

    Ukrainian nationalism is growing quickly, but radical parties have never done well in elections. This may change in 2019, when Ukraine will hold both presidential and parliamentary elections, which are the first national elections after the Euromaidan revolution and the Russian military invasion in 2014.

    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.

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  • Russian Americans Say Keep It Up, President Trump

    The Congress of Russian Americans, a group claiming to represent five million Russian-speaking Americans, recently wrote to US President Donald Trump deploring the state of Russian-American relations, denouncing the expulsion of sixty Russian diplomats from the United States, and denying Russia’s involvement in the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. It also alleges that Russian speakers face "serious discrimination" in America.

    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...

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  • Presidential Administration Says Law Requiring Activists to Disclose Assets Is Invalid and Unenforceable, but Ukraine’s Activists Aren’t Buying It

    For more than a year, Ukraine’s government and activists have been at odds over a March 2017 law that requires activists to disclose their assets online in the same way that public officials do. The law was roundly criticized by Ukrainian civil society as well as by the international community.

    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.

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  • Why Isn’t Ukraine Doing More to Free its Hostages?

    Last December the Ukrainian government and Russia's separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine exchanged nearly 400 prisoners. European leaders rightly applauded. Lost amidst the congratulations was the fact that Moscow still holds sixty-six Ukrainian citizens as de facto hostages on Russian territory, and they more than meet the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's definition of political prisoners. While a few of these stories made international headlines—most prominently pilot Nadiya Savchenko who has since been released—the vast majority do not.
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  • The Remarkable Resurgence of Yulia Tymoshenko

    Yulia Tymoshenko tops Ukraine’s polls and may be the next president. But her status as the frontrunner was not a foregone conclusion.

    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...

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  • Why Expelling Russian Diplomats Isn't Enough

    So far, twenty-eight nations have sent home more than 140 Russian diplomats and spies in a coordinated response to the Russian nerve agent assassination attempt in Salisbury, England. Symbolically, this unprecedented expulsion of Russian officials constitutes an important show of unity, but its practical impact in terms of hindering Russian subversion operations is limited. With the exception of the United States and Britain, which expelled sixty and twenty-three Russians respectively, most countries expelled four individuals or fewer—an insufficient number to deliver a meaningful hit to Russian spy networks.

    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....

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  • Nationalism Is on the Rise in Ukraine, and That’s a Good Thing

    The Euromaidan revolution and ongoing Russian aggression have united the nation like never before. People of various origins, both Russian and Ukrainian speakers, stood up to the pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanukovych, and now they resist Russia’s efforts to reimpose influence over Ukraine.

    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.

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  • Foam Butts, Black Labs, and Straight Jackets: Kyiv Activists Lampoon New Restrictions

    It’s clear that Ukraine's officials and oligarchs are not fans of the Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC). Founded by Daria Kaleniuk and Vitaliy Shabunin—two of Ukraine's leading anti-corruption activists—AntAC has been civil society's tip of the spear in its ongoing efforts to end the impunity politicians took for granted before the Euromaidan.

    AntAC and its team have faced the wrath of Ukrainian officialdom in numerous ways since the Revolution of Dignity, including trumped-up criminal charges on two occasions. Its senior leadership such as Shabunin and board member Oleksandra Ustinova have also faced harassment from law enforcement agencies. Kyiv's most recent effort to undermine civil...

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