Melinda Haring

  • Reject Populists’ Slogans and Work Hard to Make Things Better, Gontareva Urges

    The governor of the National Bank of Ukraine may be diminutive, but she speaks powerfully.

    “For the previous two decades we were not brave enough,” Valeria Gontareva, 52, said in a March 8 interview. “The real transition from post-USSR to [a] modern competitive economy did not happen when Ukraine gained its independence.” Instead, Ukraine continued to build on the old Soviet edifice. “The longer you wait, the harder it is to construct the proper basics,” she said.

    Gontareva has been hard at work constructing the basics since June 2014.

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  • Ukraine Is Sliding Back, Sergii Leshchenko Warns

    Anticorruption reform in Ukraine appeared far more promising just a year ago, said Sergii Leshchenko in a March 1 telephone interview from Kyiv. “We are sliding back,” he said definitively.

    The thirty-six-year old member of parliament, a former deputy editor at Ukrayinska Pravda and one of President Petro Poroshenko’s most outspoken critics, wants the West to wake up to Ukraine’s rollback in the fight against corruption.

    Leshchenko has a point: the IMF was decidedly unimpressed in its November 2016 review of Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts.

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  • A Reality Check for Russian Propaganda

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America launch a Russian-language news network

    The flurries of disinformation and fake news obfuscating the current state of affairs in Russia, and the Kremlin’s activity worldwide, have not created a post-truth world, but one in which some find truth increasingly difficult to promote.

    “I think we’ve given up on truth way too easily,” said Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America. Countering the notion that facts are no longer valuable, she said: “to assume the rest of the world doesn’t understand true things and can’t sort out truth and fact… I don’t think that makes it a post-truth world, I just think it makes it more difficult to get the truth out there.”

    “In a global information warzone where fake news and false narratives are the weapon of choice… honest and accurate reporting [is] the best defense against falsehoods,” said John Lansing, director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors....

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  • American-Born Doctor Takes on Ukraine’s Health Care System

    Ulana Suprun is a woman on a mission. The 53-year-old radiologist from New York who was appointed Ukraine’s Acting Minister of Health in July is determined to shake up Ukraine’s sclerotic health care system.

    “The changes that we are making in Ukraine’s health care sector are breaking the old rules and establishing new standards,” Suprun said in a written statement on January 23.

    Her early moves have been noticed: on January 18, five members of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on health attempted to oust Suprun and failed. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman and civil society organizations urged parliament to stick with Suprun and stop blocking health care reforms.

    "I feel support from the prime minister and the entire cabinet," as well as many MPs, civil society, and many young doctors, she said. 

    Suprun has two other advantages: she’s not starting from scratch, and she’s not new to Ukraine.

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  • The Future of Ukraine’s Economy

    “What we need most of all is the end of hostilities,” said Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in eastern Ukraine, at an event about Ukraine. “Without international assistance from the EU, from the United States, from Japan...I don’t think that one can see a fast recovery—and a fast recovery is definitely necessary to have the people believe in the future.”

    “The priority is the people,” agreed Oleksandr Petryk, alternate executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

    Sajdik and Petryk joined other experts at the Atlantic Council for a December 14 conference examining the future of Ukraine’s economy; the event included two panels and a keynote speech.

    Moderated by Irina Paliashvili, senior counsel at the RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, the first panel focused on the Donbas and included Sajdik; Petryk; Vitaly Butenko, commercial...

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  • Q&A: What Does a Friend of Putin at Foggy Bottom Mean for Ukraine?

    President-elect Donald Trump has picked ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state. In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally bestowed Russia’s Order of Friendship on Tillerson. As CEO of ExxonMobil, he’s argued for sanctions relief on Russia. By October 2016, some reports estimate that Exxon has lost $1 billion because of White House sanctions. We asked Atlantic Council experts and UkraineAlert contributors the following question: What does a friend of Putin at Foggy Bottom mean for Ukraine and Russia?
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  • There's More to DC Fashion than Gray Suits and More to Ukraine than War

    Vogue cannot get enough of Ukraine’s new designers and eye-catching traditional designs. Since the Euromaidan, the magazine has covered the country’s hot fashion scene half a dozen times.

    On November 30, seven of Ukraine’s designers were on display at a fashion show in Washington, DC, “to celebrate Ukraine’s creative culture,” said Alexa Chopivsky, executive director of the American Center for a European Ukraine and one of the organizers.

    War, internally displaced persons, and the never-ending Minsk process dominate international coverage of Ukraine—when it is covered at all—but that’s not the full picture.

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  • Ukraine, Not Syria, Should Be Top Priority for President Trump

    Resolving the conflict in Ukraine should be a higher priority for the United States and Europe than addressing the civil war in Syria, said Archbishop Zoria Yevstratiy, representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate, during a visit to Washington, DC. “I’m very sorry about the Syrian people, but Ukraine can’t be compared. Syria never played a key role in global or even regional affairs,” Yevstratiy said in an exclusive interview with UkraineAlert on October 26.

    The war in Ukraine has displaced more than 1.7 million people, and 10,000 people have been killed. The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine’s east has not generated much international assistance relative to similar conflicts and is no longer top news. Nonetheless, said Yevstratiy, it has strategic importance.

    “Ukraine is a big country in Europe located between Russia and the rest of Europe. And in essence it is a wall standing between the civilized and uncivilized world,” he said.

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  • Ukraine’s New Liberals Face Tough Climb from Streets to Seats in Parliament

    Ukraine now has a liberal European party, but can it become a nationwide party with real heft in parliament?

    On July 9, Euromaidan leaders joined forces with the Democratic Alliance party. The reinvigorated party is still preparing its program statement, but broadly it’s a liberal European party that supports free market ideas, strongly opposes corruption, and sounds libertarian on social issues.

    Currently, the Democratic Alliance enjoys only a three percent approval rating, and some of its leaders remain largely unknown. According to the International Republican Institute’s recent polling, 81 percent of Ukrainians don’t know who Svitlana Zalishchuk is, 58 percent are unfamiliar with Sergii Leshchenko, and 30 percent have never heard of Mustafa Nayyem.

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  • Natalie Jaresko Says $25 Billion More Needed to Make Ukraine’s Reforms Irreversible

    Fatigue, Vested Interests, and Populism Threaten Ukraine’s “Longest and Most Successful” Reform Process

    “There’s no country in the world that has been in such dire circumstances and yet turned around the economy in such a short period of time,” said Natalie Jaresko, who served as Ukraine’s Finance Minister from December 2014 to April 2016. She spoke in Washington on October 11 at a discussion sponsored by the Atlantic Council and the US-Ukraine Business Council.

    In 2009, Ukraine’s GDP declined 15 percent as a result of the global financial crisis, and it remained stagnant or declining through 2015. But through an infusion of $25 billion in global support and leaders’ efforts to make serious fiscal adjustments, restructure its debt, reform its energy sector, and get control of its banking system, Ukraine is expected to see 1.5 percent GDP growth this year.

    Ukraine’s “longest and most successful reform process,” as Jaresko put it, has not only spurred...

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