Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity is Not Yet Dead

    Christopher Russell

    Security, Eurasia

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

    With presidential elections less than a year away, the Poroshenko administration’s tough stance against the Kremlin may not be enough for the Ukrainian voter.

    The Revolution of Dignity should have served as a rule of law lesson for Ukraine’s political elite—it has not. But before writing off the social justice-inspired movement as a loss, it should be credited with energizing Ukraine’s civil society, galvanizing a generation of spirited reformists, and positioning young and talented leaders in government. This generation of leaders now irks a Western-leaning administration that does just enough to develop the legal institutions required of it by its international donors, while also maintaining its grasp over ministries, courts and the prosecutor’s office.

    The legal missions that burgeoned from the protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti central square are among the country’s most important accomplishments, targeting high-level corruption on one end of the economic spectrum while empowering Ukrainians with access to justice on the other. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) fight graft, while the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision (CCLAP) extends the criminal defense and civil legal services to all Ukrainians. However, these new institutions are not a panacea for corruption. Ukraine’s long struggle against corruption will require political change, starting with fresh leadership.

    Thomas and Christopher Carothers, writing in The National Interest, rightly call for a renewed U.S. foreign policy commitment to fighting corruption, recognizing the political instability it breeds abroad. To continue to fight corruption and bring stability to a tense and battered Ukraine, the U.S. must continue to offer diplomatic and political support to Maidan’s stakeholders, even when that support runs counter to the interests of its ally, the Poroshenko administration.

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