Brian Mefford

  • Snapshots of Ukraine's Five Hottest Elections

    Ukrainians go to the polls on October 25 to elect mayors and city councils. These local elections matter more than one might expect. The likely passage of a constitutional amendment on decentralization by parliament later this year will give the newly elected mayors and councils more autonomy and authority than ever before.

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  • Ukraine's Fall Elections Matter More Than You Think

    With less than 80 days before election day in Ukraine, mayoral races are already heating up. Parliament approved a new election law that does two things: Ukraine will use an open-list system and the country will hold runoffs for mayors in larger cities. These two features combined with the potential decentralization reforms being debated by parliament make the October 25 local elections more important than previous ones.

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  • Why Saakashvili's Appointment as Odesa's Governor Actually Makes Perfect Sense

    On May 30, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko named former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Governor of the Odesa region. There are a number of ways to interpret the bold move, but two historical analogies may be more apt: Saakashvili is either following in Duke of Richelieu's footsteps as an outside Governor of Odesa or the late CIA Director Richard Helms' path. Ukrainian politics are murky, but in Saakashvili's case, the motivation behind his appointment looks like a mixed bag. Saakashvili has been simultaneously promoted and exiled.
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  • Mefford on Odessa's New Governor

    BBC quotes Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Brian Mefford on former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's appointment as Odessa's new governor: 

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  • The Achilles’ Heel of Ukraine’s Mighty Oligarchs

    The Ukrainian government's well-executed showdown in March 2015 to rein in the country's wealthiest oligarch is the first of many battles with the oligarchs that lie ahead. In the battle with the oligarchs, President Petro Poroshenko—the owner of Roshen Confectionery Corporation and an oligarch himself—is uniquely positioned to fight. The President and his reform-minded parliament will need all the help they can get when they face their likely next opponents: Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitro Firtash.
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  • Did Kharkiv Just Become Russia’s Next Target in Ukraine War?

    A Criminal Case Could Turn the City’s Political Strongman Back into a Kremlin Ally

    In Russia’s campaign to re-assert control over Ukraine, a logical target for its “hybrid war” is Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and a center of its Russian-speaking population. And indeed, Russia has been working steadily to destabilize Kharkiv (just 25 miles from Russia’s border) as it has done the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, further south.

    Russian-backed separatists have organized public demonstrations in favor of a pro-Russian “Kharkiv People’s Republic,” and dozens of bombs have exploded in the past year, often targeting groups working for Ukraine’s continued independence from Russia. The bombings have accelerated, with seven “terrorist...

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  • Moldova’s Weakened Leadership Vows to Stay on Course Toward Europe

    But Political Squabbling Yields a Minority Government, Strengthens Russia’s Hand

    Moldova’s three-month-long political last week produced a surprise prime minister, Chiril Gaburici, who promised every effort "to ensure that by 2018 the country can qualify to sign an agreement on associate membership” in the European Union.

    But as Gaburici, a cellular telephone company executive, takes up his first political post in replacing former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, his real political mandate is unclear, according to Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford and other analysts. After Leanca failed to win a parliament majority last week for a new term, his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally, the Democratic Party, got help from the Communists to elect Gaburici with 60 votes in the 101-seat chamber.

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  • Ukraine's Other War: Parliament Advances Anti-Corruption Fight

    Lawmakers Vote to End Their Immunity from Prosecution

    Members of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, overwhelmingly passed a bill to end their own legal immunity from prosecution, one of the main laws that for years helped Ukraine to the top of Europe’s corruption charts. Article 80 of Ukraine’s constitution protects all Rada members from prosecution for any crimes, and “opinion surveys consistently show that 90 percent of Ukrainians favor cancellation” of the law, writes the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford.

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  • Will Moldova’s Dangerous Political Deadlock Force Out Its Prime Minister?

    Foreign Minister and Europeanist Nataliya Gherman May Become Next Leader

    Moldova’s political parties are deadlocked on forming a government, and the parliament has until next week (February 12) to either confirm Prime Minister Iurie Leanca in his post or find an alternative. But Leanca is sure of having only 42 of the 51 votes he needs to keep his job, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford notes, and the country’s next leader could be Foreign Minister Nataliya Gherman, who has been serving as Leanca’s deputy since 2013.

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  • Two Months After Elections, Moldovan Political Gridlock Deepens the Country’s Risks

    Pro-Europe Parties Won a Narrow Victory at the Polls, But Can’t Agree on a Government

    Eight weeks after voters in Moldova gave a narrow victory to the three main parties inclined toward greater democracy and ties with Europe, those groups are locked in a political battle that has prevented the formation of a government. The three-party coalition, called the Alliance for European Integration, which broke the Communists’ eight-year hold on power in 2009, is at an impasse over the distribution of government posts, writes Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford.

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