• How Ukraine's Cities Are Sharing Their Good Ideas

    Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2030, two-thirds likely will. Mayors are city managers, responsible not only for quality of life issues like access to water, roads, and infrastructure; they’re also facing global challenges like climate change, security, and migration.
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  • How Ukraine’s Never Ending Transition Makes the Rich Richer and Everyone Else Poorer

    After twenty-seven years of independence, the Ukrainian economy continues to struggle. The country appears to be stuck in partial transition from the command to market economy. Many state-owned companies have been privatized, but many more remain in the custody of the state and are mismanaged. There is corporate governance and independent boards, but the assets are continuously stripped from companies by insiders. There are private but insecure property rights. There is liberalization in energy markets, but household gas prices are heavily subsidized. There is a shadow market for land, but the legislature has extended the land market moratorium sixteen times. There is private investment, but the movement of capital is restricted and minority shareholders are abused. The list goes on.

    The standard logic of economic transition goes like this: reforms are unpopular. There are short-term losers. People will lose jobs in inefficient industries and will have to pay higher...

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  • Good News: Ukraine Finally Gets New IMF Agreement

    On October 19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it had finally reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine on renewed lending. Ukraine hasn’t received any IMF funds since April 2017. Experts had warned that without an IMF tranche, Ukraine’s economy might face a serious financial crisis this fall.
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  • Church Splits, and Putin Loses Big

    Ukraine has just won a tremendous victory by obtaining the right of autocephaly, or the right to constitute the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as fully independent and free of any subservience to Moscow. This victory represents a shattering blow to Vladimir Putin’s pretenses of a Russian world (Russkii Mir) and the entire arcana imperii (Imperial relics) of the Russian narrative that Ukraine is really a part of Russia that does not merit political or cultural independence. The attainment of autocephaly is actually Ukraine’s second emancipation from Moscow; it is a religious and cultural emancipation that accompanies the country’s political emancipation in 1991. And it shatters the intellectual basis for Putin’s attacks on Ukraine.
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  • The New Cold War Could Learn a Lot from the Old One

    Territories between great powers—borderlands—have always been areas of strife. So it is with the countries caught between Russia and the West, those that were once part of the Soviet Union or firmly within its sphere of influence. Much of Europe has consolidated and, with the United States, established a lasting liberal democratic order, but Russia has been increasingly pushing back. Though most of the “borderlands” countries are now West-facing, Moscow wants to control at least the national security policies of its near neighbors.

    The West should reject Moscow’s claim.

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  • How Ukraine Can Avoid Disaster in 2019

    Ukraine’s 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections are the most important since the country became independent nearly three decades ago. If next year’s elections follow those held in 2014 when five pro-reform political forces won a constitutional majority, Ukraine’s European integration and withdrawal from the Russian world will be assured by the next election cycle in 2024.
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  • Ukraine, Anti-Semitism, Racism, and the Far Right​

    October 14 saw the latest in a string of annual mass marches by the far right in Ukraine. As many as 10,000 people participated, mainly young men, chanting fiercely. A nighttime torchlight parade with signs proclaiming “We’ll return Ukraine to Ukrainians,” contained echoes of Nazi-style symbolism.

    Lax law enforcement and indifference by the security services to the operations of the far right is being noticed by extremists from abroad who are flocking to Ukraine. German media reported the presence of the German extreme right (JN-NPD, Dritte Weg) at the rally. According to Ukrainian political analyst Anton Shekhovtsov, far-right Norwegians, Swedes, and Italians were supposed to be there too. And on October 15, they all gathered in Kyiv for the Paneuropa conference organized by the Ukrainian neo-Nazi National Corps party. "Kyiv," says Shekhovtsov, "has...

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  • What Really Happened in Constantinople Last Week

    Last week Ukraine’s Orthodox Church got confirmation that it will likely receive the independence from Moscow that it has long sought. The issue is complex, and the terminology foreign to most readers. The issue of the Ukrainian church is similar to an iceberg. What appears above the surface is political, but the largest part underneath has nothing to do with politics. Millions of Orthodox Ukrainians were considered outside of spiritual unity with the rest of the Orthodox world. Thousands of other Orthodox Christians who belonged to the only legitimate Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), felt uncomfortable there because it seems to channel Russia’s political agenda. This is the same country which annexed Crimea and launched a hybrid war in Ukraine’s east.

    Both the Moscow Patriarchate and its filial structure in Ukraine, the UOC, have failed to address the pastoral issue caused by the ecclesial schism. It was addressed, however, by the church of...

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  • Kyiv Patriarchate Vs. Moscow Patriarchate: David Triumphs Over Goliath

    On October 10, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople agreed to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This is a historic decision with huge geopolitical implications.

    In addition, the anathema that had hung over Patriarch Filaret of the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Makarii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and their followers was lifted, and they were recognized as canonical.

    Russia, of course, couldn’t refrain from commenting.

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  • Three More Reasons Why I’m Optimistic about Ukraine

    If the Euromaidan was such a transformative event in Ukraine, why do we see the same old faces in high politics, I was recently asked.

    As one of the world’s most impatient people, I found myself saying have more patience and feeling like a total hypocrite. Many of my columns have urged Ukraine to move harder and faster on reform. And it should.

    Even still, there are plenty of principled, young and not-so-young people, in the pipeline. They serve in city councils, in the parliament, in bureaucracies, and run many of Ukraine’s civil society organizations.

    They do not have the name recognition that Yulia Tymoshenko does, although slowly but surely they are gaining experience and greater political maturity. Eventually they will assume greater positions of power.

    One program designed to develop new leaders is Stanford University’s Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program.

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