• Zelenskiy’s First Big Test

    A key issue has emerged in the post-election drama in Ukraine. In a disturbing interview given by Andrij Bohdan, lawyer, confidant, and political advisor to President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he reveals that he continues to act as a lawyer for oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy with regard to the nationalization of PrivatBank. This assertion, if accepted by the president-elect, would constitute a major threat to the reform agenda of the Zelenskiy presidency.

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  • Is Zelenskiy Really the Kremlin’s Best Hope in Ukraine?

    In the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election, the leading pro-Russian candidate secured 11 percent of the vote. Compare this to 2010 when pro-Kremlin candidate Viktor Yanukovych received 49 percent. This dramatic decline reflects the scale of the damage done to Russian interests in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war. Russian aggression has alienated millions of Ukrainian voters while disenfranchising many more, leading to an unprecedented collapse of Kremlin influence in a country that has been at the heart of Russia’s imperial identity for centuries. Could the remarkable rise of comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy help to reverse this Russian retreat?

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  • Why a Zelenskiy Presidency Would Be a Disaster for Ukraine

    The world is in turmoil, Russia occupies part of Ukraine, reforms in Ukraine still have a way to go, and democracy is in retreat in much of Europe.

    One would think Ukrainians would be worried. One would think they would want an experienced person at the helm. Instead, they may be about to elect the 41-year-old television comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as their next president.

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  • Why the Sajdik Plan for the Donbas Will Not Work

    In the last year, there hasn’t been any new momentum in the effort to bring peace to Ukraine. Amid this long-lasting stalemate, the Austrian newspaperKleine Zeitung recently published an interview with Martin Sajdik, special representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, under the ambitious title “We Have a New Plan to Solve the Ukraine Crisis,” that drew attention.

    Sajdik stated the need for a new, legally binding, and more specific “comprehensive package” for implementation of the Minsk agreements. This would include deployment of the UN/OSCE mission in the Donbas, coordination with the UN and OSCE to


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  • Legal Threats to Minister Imperil Ukraine’s Health Care

    Ulana Suprun just wants to get back to work turning around Ukraine’s feeble healthcare system. But she can’t focus on reforms now: the fifty-six-year-old radiologist turned health minister of Ukraine is under attack. Worst of all, she’s not sure who is behind it.

    On February 5, Kyiv’s Regional Administrative Court ruled to suspend Suprun's authority to make any decisions or sign any documents as the acting minister of health. Suprun remains the first deputy minister of health.

    Lives depend on her signature.

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  • Two Big Problems with Ukraine’s Elections that No One Else Has Spotted

    There are many reasons to worry about Ukraine’s elections this year. The 2019 elections may be as defining as those in 2014, when Ukraine left the Russian world for good. However, so far, most analysts have missed two factors that may play an outsized role. First, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is not only a sitting minister but also a politician who wants to remain in power. The police force, which will oversee much of the conduct around the elections, report to him. Second, decentralization created more money and players on the local level, and these actors may exert a greater role as we approach the elections.

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  • Patriot: Working Hard to Bring Home Ukrainian POWs

    The situation with prisoners of war being held in Ukraine’s occupied Donbas is a tragedy. Some have been locked up for over two years, some tortured, and a few executed. Access to them by international missions is usually denied. Despairing families sometimes fall prey to swindlers seeking ransom. Since the war is officially undeclared, these soldiers and civilians don’t have POW status but are instead classified as “illegally held hostages.” The official hostage release process between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine is “completely deadlocked,” mainly due to politicization. But Ukrainian volunteers, working separately from the Minsk process, continue to fervently negotiate for every hostage they can.

    Patriot is an...

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  • Not the Right Way to Bring Yanukovych to Trial

    The Kremlin is well known for pulling former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych out of hiding for its own purposes. Now Ukraine’s leaders have been accused of using Yanukovych as an excuse to push legislation that may have dangerous repercussions for Ukraine’s justice system—while not necessarily bringing Yanukovych and his cronies any closer to justice.

    Yury Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, has been promising to begin Yanukovych’s trial in absentia in March this year. The move and legislative amendments required for that to occur have clearly been coordinated with President Petro Poroshenko. There is considerably less enthusiasm from Serhiy Horbatyuk, the chief investigator into crimes against Maidan activists, as well as from lawyers representing the families of Maidan victims and from other civic activists.

    This is not a question of whether Yanukovych and others should be held to account in a court of law. The problem is ensuring that any conviction...

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  • Ukraine at Twenty-Five

    Twenty-five years ago, after seventy years of Soviet dominance and over three hundred years of rule by Russia, Ukraine declared its independence. This occurred after a national referendum in which over 90 percent of Ukraine’s voters chose independence. Every part of the country, including Crimea—which at that time had a population that was over 60 percent ethnic Russian—chose independence by a majority vote. 
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  • How Ukraine Can Solve Its Local Election Conundrum

    Even when it is effective, diplomacy can be an unsightly business. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than that ugly, illegitimate child of Mother Russia’s war in Ukraine: the Minsk agreements.

    In recent months, Germany and France have been pressing Ukraine to pass a local elections law as the basis for holding elections in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow’s surrogates. The Germans and French point out that holding elections there is a requirement of the Minsk agreements, as is the passage of a constitutional amendment providing greater local control to the authorities of the occupied territories.

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