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Author: Adam Reichardt

We want to transform Ukraine

A conversation with Sviatoslav Yurash, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the Servant of the People party. Interviewer: Kateryna Pryshchepa

KATERYNA PRYSHCHEPA: Can you tell us the story how you became an MP?

SVIATOSLAV YURASH: In February 2019 I joined Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his presidential run. It has a backstory, but I joined in February, and I have been with the president ever since. I think the president has his heart in the right place, and has the right team to put his mind in the right place – and the mind of the whole Ukrainian nation. And for me it was clear that a man like this could one, defeat Petro Poroshenko, and two, unite the Ukrainian nation. And that is what he has done.

November 13, 2019 - Kateryna Pryshchepa Sviatoslav Yurash

Uncertainty and risk in Lukashenka’s times

The last 25 years in Belarus should not be seen as a period of development that was based on some predetermined plan. Rather it is a story of maintaining power, local successes and the failures of one man.

The history of a country can be divided into periods of growth and decline, euphoria and insecurity, crises and rebuilding. In Belarus, however, the past 25 years can be described as the time of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Yet, a true picture of this period is much more blurred and nuanced. It is therefore difficult to make a clear, one-sided, assessment of the last quarter century and call it a period of decline or growth.

November 13, 2019 - Andrei Kazakevich

The downfall of a captured state

In June this year Moldova ended its one-party rule and political deadlock when a pragmatic coalition of pro-democratic and pro-Russian forces took power. This coalition now faces a series of challenges, which puts justice reform and anti-corruption as the top priorities. Realistically speaking, however, to deliver any substantial outcomes the government is going to need time, support and stability.

Moldova has produced an unexpected, though much welcomed, democratic recovery after it disembarked from the oligarchic-centred political system in June 2019. The unequivocal recognition by the major powers – the European Union, the United States and Russia – was certainly instrumental in helping Moldova overcome its political deadlock. The Socialist Party and the ACUM bloc of pro-democratic forces have, for now, put aside their geopolitical differences and agreed to govern together.

November 13, 2019 - Denis Cenusa

Slovakia’s new wave and its limits

The new Slovak president illustrates that an alternative to Central European populism is politically viable. But her power is tamed by constitutional limits and the lasting and deep political polarisation between liberal democrats and conservative nationalists. The latter can particularly bar her allies from building a stable government after the February 2020 parliamentary elections.

Three days before the June European Council meeting, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini was still against the target of reaching climate neutrality in 2050. But two days before the summit, Pellegrini met the new Slovak President and made a U-turn the very same day. He said Slovakia was in favour of the EU goal, steering away from the other countries in the Visegrad Group.

November 13, 2019 - Pavol Szalai

Authority without power?

In his electoral campaign Gitanas Nausėda presented himself as a peacemaker. He promised a new standard in Lithuanian politics, one without intrigue or fighting. He explained that problems can be solved with dialogue. During the campaign he tried to appeal to all voters, but the people do not want a president without an opinion.

It was May 26th, almost midnight, when it became clear who will take over Dalia Grybauskaitė’s chair as Lithuania’s president. Gitanas Nausėda stood on the stage in front of the presidential palace, together with his wife, and celebrated his victory. “Things will be different,” Nausėda said in his victory speech. It has been over two months since Nausėda’s inauguration and the question remains – what has changed in Lithuania? What changes does Nausėda want to bring about and does he have a power to change much at all?

November 13, 2019 - Liepa Želnienė

From revolution to politics

For almost a year, Armenia has been undergoing a process of state reforms. Expectations are high. However, despite some initial positive results, any true success is still distant. The problems faced by the state are systemic in nature and cannot be solved through revolution alone.

Elected in May of 2018, the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was in a honeymoon phase until the end of the year. At that time, it only had nine mandates in the 105-seat National Assembly which put any bigger reforms at risk of being blocked from moving forward. The situation changed in December with early parliamentary elections when the political alliance called My Step received a constitutional majority and now has the power to build, at least in theory, a “new Armenia”.

November 13, 2019 - Mateusz Kubiak

A hot summer in Georgia

Georgia has witnessed strong political tension over the last several months. Tbilisi Pride, anti-Russian and anti-government protests, trouble with the construction of the Anaklia sea port, resolving the ownership dispute of the country’s popular opposition TV channel Rustavi 2 and the change of prime minister. A year ahead of parliamentary elections, Georgian politics is shaken as the Georgian Dream decided to go on an all-out offensive aiming at electoral victory.

November 13, 2019 - Wojciech Wojtasiewicz

New president, old authorities

Kazakhstan’s presidential election on June 9th was a breakthrough. It was the first election in the history of the young country where the main candidate was not Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had ruled Kazakhstan for almost 30 years. The country’s new president is Qasym-Jomart Toqaev, a long-time diplomat and confidant of Nazarbayev.

“I have made a difficult decision for myself – to resign from the powers of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” It was a historic moment when Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation live on TV on March 19th 2019. He made an unusual decision for a region where presidents tend to die in office rather than resign. This step came by surprise for many at that time but had been in preparation for years.

November 13, 2019 - Othmara Glas

Lord of the flies. Power struggles on Central Asia’s island of democracy

With its unique political model, Kyrgyzstan, in a region full of autocratic regimes, is sometimes called an “island of democracy”. This reference, however, does not imply full ascension of democracy.

Kyrgyzstan is often understood to be the only democracy in Central Asia. A transfer of power has happened here more often than its neighbours. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have witnessed replacement at the top following the death of their respective rulers; in Kazakhstan, the presidential change happened this year with the approval of its long-serving president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, as an aksakal , still retains significant political power; Emomali Rakhmon has been ruling Tajikistan, unchallenged, since the mid-1990s, when he rose to power after political turbulences and a bitter civil war.

November 13, 2019 - Rusif Huseynov

Overcoming challenges with innovation. Capacity building in Ukraine

From the very beginning, the European Union’s Support Group for Ukraine has focused on governance issues, for which it has mobilised close to 300 million euros in support between 2015 and 2019. With this and the deployment of other resources, the EU is closely involved in the implementation of key reforms. A lot has been accomplished, but many challenges lie ahead.

Five years ago Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity signalled the beginning of an extraordinary period of change. This included the enormous reform programme initiated with the signature and implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) with the European Union. After decades of stalemate, this alignment to western and often specifically European standards, rules and structures was a particular challenge to Ukraine’s institutions, some of which had remained largely unchanged since the times of the Soviet Union.

November 13, 2019 - Berend De Groot Maria Maslowska Peter M. Wagner Stefan Schleuning

International justice on hold

It has been over five years since the conflict has broken out in Ukraine, which saw Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea as well as direct military support for separatism in Donbas. Yet little has been done to achieve justice for the civilian victims of these devastating events. Recent steps taken by the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court may indicate some slow progress ahead.

The inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recent parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government have brought the question of justice back to the forefront of Ukrainian politics. Until now, little has been achieved in terms of ending impunity for criminal acts and human rights abuses perpetrated during the 2013-14 EuroMaidan and events in Crimea and Donbas.

November 13, 2019 - Quincy Cloet

Big brother to the rescue? Can artificial intelligence help in Ukraine’s fight against corruption?

The US Ukraine scandal has been in the news 24/7 in the United States for over a month now. Consistent with the origin of the inquiry, the focus has been more on the United States than Ukraine. This article examines a recent development in Ukraine’s fight against corruption that got lost amidst the all other Ukraine-related news.

November 12, 2019 - Kristina V. Arianina

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