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2019 Ukraine Firsts: Single-Party Majority, Bullying Fines, and More
26 December, 2019
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The current single party majority of the president’s Servant of the People is the first in the history of Ukraine’s parliament. Kyiv, September 3, 2019. EPA-EFE/STEPAN FRANKO

The year is coming to an end, which means that it’s time to analyze the results of the year. Ukraine did well in sports, changed its politics, and generally set a lot of new records. Hromadske covers the top events that ended up being firsts in 2019.

Politics

1. The first Ukrainian president who isn’t a professional politician, but a comedian. 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is 41 years old, which makes him the youngest president Ukraine’s ever had. He won with 73.22% of the vote. 

2. The first single-party majority in Ukraine’s independent history. The president’s newly formed party, Servant of the People, gained 254 seats in parliament.

3. The first non-white member of parliament – Zhan Beleniuk from Servant of the People. He was number 10 on the party’s list. He’s also an Olympic silver medallist, winning his medal in Rio in greco-roman wrestling.

4. The first time that the pre-election debate was held at a stadium. “A stadium...is like a stadium…”, “Think…”  and many other memes were born from this presidential race.

According to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 80% of Ukrainians followed the race. The debates lasted for an hour, with an estimated fifteen thousand viewers.

Poroshenko and Zelenskyy also submitted blood tests for drugs and alcohol – another first for Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy – the first president of Ukraine who prior to his election did not engage in politics, but show business. The photo shows Zelenskyy celebrating after exit poll results, April 21, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/STEPAN FRANKO

Progress

1. The first time the internet proved more popular than TV. It may be surprising, but according to USAID-Internews, the internet is finally 2% more popular than television.

2. Ukraine has for the first time passed an anti-bullying law, and has fined a girl for violating it. Reports of bullying have almost collapsed, and the media has stopped counting them. Around 67% of Ukrainian children have reported bullying among their peers, and a quarter identify as victims of bullying. 

3. The first time Ukraine has held an inclusive film festival. Known as “EuroFest: Movies for Everyone”, the film festival is for people with poor vision, hearing, or other disabilities. The films were shown with audio commentary which describes the visual picture of the movie. For people with hearing disabilities, the movies were shown with specialized subtitles.

Sport

1. It was the first time the Ukrainian national football team avoided a loss the entire year. The team, under the management of Andriy Shevchenko, entered the Euro-2020 cup early, and gained the first place in their group. In fact, entering the Euro-2020 early was also a new achievement. 

2. It was the first time that Ukraine’s under-20 youth team won the youth world cup. Ukraine beat South Korea 3-1 to take the cup. This is the greatest victory any Ukrainian national team has had in the history of Ukrainian football.

Ukraine’s under-20 youth team wins the World Cup. The photo shows the footballers celebrating after their match with South Korea. Lodz, Poland, June 15, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/Grzegorz Michalowski

3. Ukraine for the first time took the gold medal during the men’s biathlon world championship. Dmytro Pidruchnyi became the first Ukrainian to win a gold medal during a world championship. Ukrainian men have gone up to the podium three times during prior biathlon world championships, but they had never brought home the gold. Ukraine has six biathlon victories, but all on the women’s team. Olena Zubrilova won four golds for Ukraine, and Olena Pidhrushna and Valj Semerenko have both won one each. Now the men’s team can proudly claim to have a gold medal in their pocket.

Money

1. The Ukrainian hryvnia has for the first time grown stronger than any other currency over the course of the year – it grew 19% against the U.S. dollar. 

2. The first time Ukraine has released 1, 2, 5 hryvnia coins – though despite the 1, 2, and 5 kopek coins being removed from circulation, these new coins ensure that Ukrainians will still be dropping coins from their pockets. As for paper bills, Ukraine has released for the first time 1000 UAH banknotes, carrying the picture of famed Ukrainian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky. 

Ecology

2019 was the first in 139 years that temperatures in Kyiv in December went above 15 Celsius. This, however, is not a record worth celebrating, as it is a direct reminder that the world’s environment is rapidly changing, despite the efforts of young activists like Greta Thunberg. Unfortunately, the only thing Ukraine can celebrate environmentally in 2019 is the reading of a bill on restricting the use of plastic bags.

/Compiled by Alina Sheremeta

/Translated by Romeo Kokriatski

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