Melinda Haring

  • Who Will Be Ukraine’s Next Prime Minister?

    In less than two weeks, Ukraine will hold its most important election of the year. On July 21, Ukrainians will elect a new parliament, which will form a new government. Much rides on the outcome of the race. It will determine whether Ukraine continues down a pro-Western and reform-oriented path or remains mired in the post-Soviet swamp that has held it back since 1991.

    Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe, even poorer than Moldova; one-fifth of its workforce has gone abroad in search of higher wages and its birthrates are declining. Russia occupies parts of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and there’s no obvious diplomatic fix to compel Russia to leave. Meanwhile, the country needs a new IMF program focusing on structural reforms as its massive Yanukovych-era debt comes due. The last five years brought some reform but lackluster economic performance, and Ukrainians are justifiably angry; they expect their novice president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to improve their bottom line

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  • Everything You Know about the Donbas Is Wrong

    Almost every image of eastern Ukraine involves suffering of some sort: old people waiting in endless queues for tiny pensions; internally displaced persons living in cramped temporary housing that is no longer temporary; Ukrainian troops operating with few modern conveniences. Since 2014, most people with education and means have fled the region. One could be forgiven for dismissing it as backward and hopeless.

    The reality, however, is that the Donbas is changing—perhaps even faster than other regions of Ukraine because it is starting from such a low level of development.


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  • Hard Talk

    “Some of the greatest Ukrainian patriots aren’t even Ukrainian,” the eminently quotable public intellectual Yevhen Hlibovotsky is fond of saying.

    While he didn’t have John Sung Kim in mind, he might have. Kim, forty-five, is a wealthy Korean-American entrepreneur who built and sold two companies (one IPO, one all cash sale) in Silicon Valley before moving to Kyiv in 2016. He’s also an evangelist for Ukraine’s tech scene.

    Kim is dead set on changing Ukraine by teaching engineers and entrepreneurs how to attract venture capital and build world-class startups. But that’s not all. He also wants to change the country’s mentality, from the short-term time horizons he sees everywhere to longer, big-picture thinking. When he can convince top talent to take a lower salary combined with equity in a company instead of just more cash, that will be a game changer for the country, he says.

    There’s no shortage of raw talent

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  • Q&A: Ukraine’s Got a New President. How Did He Do on Inauguration Day?

    On May 20, Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as Ukraine’s sixth president. His inauguration speech was ambitious: he called for early elections, urged parliament to end parliamentary immunity, pass electoral reform and the law on illegal enrichment. He also wants parliament to sack the head of the SBU, the prosecutor general, and the minister of defense. What did you think of Zelenskiy’s speech? Did he strike the right tone? Are his priorities correct? 


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  • Even if Ukraine’s Reformers Unify, So What?

    Five years after the Euromaidan street protests, Ukrainians are still waiting for transformative leaders and justice. On May 20, political newcomer Volodymyr Zelenskiy will be sworn in as president. But that won’t necessarily result in a significant change for the country: Ukraine’s next president is inexperienced and his links to oligarchs are troubling. Its parliament, theleast trusted body in the country, makes the most important decisions and appoints the government. And there are signs afoot that the forces there will be anything but new.

    Ukraine holds its parliamentary elections on October 27. Now that the May holidays have passed, politics is in full swing and every politician is preening and gearing up for the next fight. As of now, however,

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  • Don't Believe the Hype. Presidential Elections Aren't What Matters in Ukraine

    There’s election fever in Kyiv, and with less than a week before Ukrainians go to the polls to likely elect an inexperienced comedian as their next president, the outcome is all but certain. Volodymyr Zelenskiy should easily defeat incumbent President Petro Poroshenko on April 21.     

    The far more interesting question is who will win the October parliamentary elections and who will lead the next government.


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  • Ukraine’s Presidential Election: How a Comic Secured the Most Votes and Won a Ticket to Round Two

    The outcome of the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on March 31, in which a TV comedian received almost twice as many votes as the incumbent president, is a reflection of the level of “disenchantment” with the “state of domestic affairs,” according to John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and a former US ambassador to Ukraine.

    It showed that “while the country has united strongly to oppose Kremlin aggression, people hoped that the Revolution of Dignity would lead to major changes domestically and an improved standard of living,” Herbst said, referring to the 2014 revolution that led to the overthrown of Viktor Yanukovych’s government.


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  • Brilliant, Broke, and Ukrainian? Harvard Still Wants to Hear from You

    Eighteen-year-old Tetiana Tsunik, who grew up in a tiny village in eastern Ukraine, won a full ride to the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, a well-regarded prep school. There she’s taking two Advanced Placement courses plus six others. She’s part of the debate club, and is editor-in-chief of two student publications. Last summer, she spent two weeks as a reporter at the Kyiv Post, the top English-language newspaper in Ukraine, and wrote five stories.

    Vlad Ivanchuk, a nineteen-year-old from Lutsk, just earned a full scholarship to Harvard after studying at Westminster School in Connecticut. Last summer, he worked on a cutting-edge research project in Lviv that combines behavioral economics and machine learning.

    Yevhennia Dubrova, a seventeen-year-old from Donetsk oblast, loves Hemingway and wants to be an English-language journalist in Kyiv someday. She’s a scholarship student at St. Mark’s

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  • Their Brand Is Crisis

    Exactly five years ago, the country’s most important independent crisis communications center was set up in Kyiv in less than forty-eight hours. It started with a text message and a series of phone calls.


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  • Q&A: Will Scandal Sink Poroshenko’s Second Term Chances?

    On February 25, investigative journalistsaccused President Petro Poroshenko’s close associates of getting rich by smuggling spare parts for military equipment from Russia. The Bihus.Info report claims that the son of Oleh Hladkovskiy, deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, was the mastermind behind a scheme to buy spare parts from Russia in 2015. The year before, Russia annexed Crimea and occupies part of the Donbas. Bihus.Info alleges that Ukraine bought the goods from private companies linked to Hladkovskiy at inflated prices and that Ukroboronprom, the state company that oversees everything, knew the origin of the parts.             

    Bihus.Info says that it received the information from anonymous

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