Ukraine 2019

  • Want Justice? In Ukraine, You May Have to Do It Yourself

    Viktor Handziuk speaks softly about his only child, daughter Kateryna, and how she defended classmates from bullies when growing up.

    Kateryna grew and took on Ukraine’s bullies by participating in the Orange and Euromaidan Revolutions and by becoming a lawyer and public administrator in Kherson, a city of 290,000 just one hour from Crimea.

    But on the morning of July 31, her valiant efforts ended when a young man poured a liter of sulfuric acid on her as she got into her car. The motive was to silence her public accusations that top local officials were making tens of millions of dollars from the illegal harvesting of wood from public lands.

    “We talked about the dangers, but this was her life, her personality,” said Dr. Handziuk in an interview in Toronto last week. Canadian Ukrainians flew him over to talk with politicians and the press about Katya’s final months and his efforts, along with others, to try and get justice.

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  • Bad Advice

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently advocated building intermediate-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to target and presumably use against Russia. No doubt Poroshenko calculated that he might gain a political advantage during the final days of a tough campaign for reelection by adopting this hawkish stance. And he may have also thought it made military sense as well. It appeals emotionally to a population that has been fighting Russia for five years with little overt progress. And since this advocacy casts Poroshenko as an aggressive patriotic defender of Ukraine, this posture might conceivably yield him political dividends.

    However, it would be a disastrous decision for both strategic and operational reasons.

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  • Why the West Should Be Worried about Ukraine’s Flagging Fight against Graft

    The last week of February was a great one for corrupt officials in Ukraine. They finally got off scot-free. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court (CCU) eliminated criminal liability for illicit enrichment. This decision is a major step back in Ukraine’s struggle to fight high-level corruption. (Incidentally, the US Ambassador to Ukraine agrees with this assessment.) And the timing is not accidental either.

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  • Could Zelenskiy Be a Reformer?

    Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy tops the polls in Ukraine and may be the next president. Some argue that Zelenskiy is the country’s only shot at reform and that he might be able to break the old system.    

    Could Zelenskiy be a reformer?

    The short answer is: No. Here’s why.

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  • Why Do So Few Presidential Candidates Support NATO and EU Membership?

    Out of forty-two candidates who are running for president in the Ukrainian elections on March 31, only eleven support NATO and EU membership. This represents a lower proportion of supporters than the over 300 deputies who voted on three occasions to change the constitution to include those two goals. Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party and the Radical party voted for those constitutional changes, but neither Yulia Tymoshenko nor Oleh Lyashko—who lead these parties, respectively—include NATO and the EU in their election programs.

    A high proportion of the candidates are using the presidential election to obtain name recognition ahead of the October parliamentary elections and some act as technical candidates to take votes away from others. The lack of support for EU and NATO membership among the 44 candidates is a product of two factors. The first is Batkivshchina and the Radical Party have always held


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  • Who Is Ready to Lead Ukraine?

    It’s election season in Ukraine. While there are forty-two candidates officially registered, the competition, according to recent polls, comes down to three: incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and newcomer and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In January, UkraineAlert examined the foreign policy views of the five leading candidates. Now we narrow the focus to the top three.

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  • Why Poroshenko Doesn’t Deserve a Second Term

    Ukraine needs a change.

    The latest scandal, involving allegations of massive profiteering from the war against Russia by well-connected Ukrainians, proves the need for a new leader in the upcoming presidential election.

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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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  • Which Ukrainians Will Lose Most if Zelenskiy Becomes President?

    It goes without saying that all Ukrainians will be losers if and when a dreadfully inexperienced and politically ignorant comedian takes charge of Ukraine’s ship of state. As the economy goes into a tailspin, corruption flourishes, and Russian President Vladimir Putin bares his teeth, all Ukrainians will be far worse off than they are today.

    But who will be even worse off than the average?

    Ironically, it will be Zelenskiy’s supporters among young people and the southeast. And all thanks to Putin.

    Prediction is always a risky business, but we can safely predict that Putin will view Zelenskiy’s election as a golden opportunity to clean up the mess he got Russia into in the occupied Donbas.

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  • Ukraine’s Leading Presidential Candidates (Minus Poroshenko) Promise to Fight Corruption

    In Ukraine, demand for a genuine fight against corruption is still extremely high. According to recentsurveys, voters name corruption as one of the three biggest problems in Ukraine. Nine out of ten Ukrainians consider grand political corruption the greatest threat to the country, while 80 percent are convinced that the main reason for corruption is a lack of accountability. A majority of Ukrainians say that the president bears the largest responsibility for the fight.

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