Revolution Redux: Can Ukrainian Society Be Re-Mobilized in Defense of Democracy

October 13, 2011 02:00 pm - October 30, 2011 03:30 pm

This informal discussion was sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy and PACT.

The post-Orange Revolution period is now seen as a time of missed opportunities. In 2004, Ukrainian society mobilized to defend political and civic rights in the face of flawed presidential elections. NGOs across the country played a significant role in informing citizens, educating voters, mobilizing the electorate and monitoring the election process. After the 2004 election, however, many NGOs failed to hold the new government accountable and turned away from working on grassroots civic issues to become a more professionalized third sector divorced from its constituency.

Since the 2010 presidential election, civil society’s ability to influence and engage with the authorities has also been curtailed. Where does this leave civil society on the eve of parliamentary elections in 2012?

Dr. Nadia Diuk, NED’s Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, Africa and Latin America, chaired this moderated discussion with representatives from a broad spectrum of Ukrainian civil society (see bios below). This discussion focused on the following questions:

  • Seven years after the Orange Revolution is there a greater understanding or appreciation of democracy, human rights and the role of independent media in Ukrainian society? Is this appreciation sufficient to mobilize people to defend them?
  • Is there a disconnect between ‘professional’ civil society and the general population? Do civil society NGOs currently enjoy the same level of authority and credibility among the general population as in 2004? Will it be possible to organize a similarly effective information and mobilization campaign ahead of the coming parliamentary elections?
  • What place does media, particularly new media and social networking sites, have in an outreach and mobilization strategy, and will it be supported by traditional get-out-the-vote programs?

About the Participants

Alyona Getmanchuk, Director of the Institute of World Policy (IWP), is an experienced foreign policy analyst and media and NGO manager. Most recently, Ms. Getmanchuk served as editor-in-chief of Glavred for four years. Her work includes numerous published articles, policy papers, and interviews, including the first interview of an American president given to a Ukrainian journalist. She holds a specialist’s degree from Taras Shevchenko University (2000), and completed professional development programs in Japan and South Korea. She was awarded the title of the Honorary Journalist of Ukraine by the President of Ukraine (2009), a Distinction Medal and an Honorary Certificate by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Ukraine (2005, 2008).

Oleksandr Suprunets (“Sasha Shagi”) is the co-founder, head coordinator and Creative Director of the Garage Gang Kollektiv NGO, editor-in-chief of and director of Moi pareni nogi production. He has over five years experience working with media-related projects: Art project of people and sparrows, Woman 3000, Sunday Borshch, etc. From 2008-09 he served as Account Manager for Adam Smith advertising agency. From 2007–08, he served as project manager at the BBDO Ukraine Global Advertising Agency. Also, from 2007-09 he was a journalist for Korrespondent, Focus, 24 and Ukrainska Pravda. In 2008 he completed his Master’s in international marketing and advertising at the Inter-regional Academy of Personnel Management (Kyiv). From 2002-07 he was the editor-in-chief of a student newspaper at IRAPM.

Andrii Bychenko graduated from the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (Faculty of Electro-acoustics) in 1996. From 1995-99 he worked for the Marketing Research Agency, Media Bureau of the Consulting Ukraine Company (Leading Specialist), Prime Advertising and Marketing Company (Director, Consulting Center), and Industrial Distribution Systems production and commercial firm (analyst). In January 2000 he was invited to join the Razumkov Center to establish a sociological department and has since served as its director. During this period, he has overseen the carrying out of over 400 studies in different fields, particularly in politics and civil society, using a plethora of different methodologies.

Svitlana Zalishchuk is Deputy Chairperson at Center UA, where she coordinates the NGO’s New Citizen Campaign. She also serves as secretary of the National Commission on the Development of Information and Freedom of Speech. Before working in civil society, she was press secretary for Oleh Rybachuk when he was chief of staff to the president of Ukraine. She has also worked as an international reporter at Channel 5. She currently is pursuing a Ph.D at Taras Shevchenko University.

Oleksii Khmara is the President of the Creative Union TORO (the contact group of Transparency International in Ukraine) and one of the leading Ukrainian specialists in anti-corruption programs. He is a member of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, Public Council of the Authorized Governmental Representative for Anti-Corruption Policies, and Expert Council of the Head of the Kirovograd Regional State Administration. After becoming a civil activist in 1999, he specializing in public policy analysis after participating in a Government Internship Program organized by the National Democratic Institute and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

Maksym Latsyba is a Project Director and member of the board of the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR). He also is Deputy Head of the Public Councils at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. He is considered to be a leading expert on civil society development and public participation. Over the past six years, he has played a significant role in developing and advocating for all major legislative initiatives on civil society development, including the Law “On Access to Public Information,” amendments to the Tax Code on the taxation of charities, and government resolution on public participation in decision-making. Currently he heads a working group that is developing a National Strategy for Civil Society Development for the president of Ukraine.

Viktoriya Cherevko has headed the Kharkiv branch of the All-Ukrainian Youth Organization Democratic Alliance (DemAlliance) since 2006 and has been a member of its board since August 2011. Within DemAllience, Victoria is a lead trainer and coordinator of the advocacy program supported by USAID. She graduated from the National Technical University of Kharkiv (NTU) and launched her career as a professor and head of the Career Center in NTU. She joined the civil society sector in 2004. As a student, she initiated the creation of the student government organization at NTU and headed an NGO from 2007–09.

Victoria Gumeniuk is the Head of the European Program at the NGO Center UA, where she coordinates the activities of the Civic Experts Council (GER). She is an expert on EU integration issues and a professional researcher. She previously worked at the Kyiv-based think tank International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS) as a senior analyst. Victoria holds an MBA degree from the Institute of International Business Relations at Steinbeis University (Germany). Her main areas of expertise are the coordination of European integration in Ukraine: mechanisms and institutions, efficiency of foreign aid, and public policy processes.