Ukraine's Revolution and the Challenges to Global Democracy
22 November, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅  Donald Trump’s rise to the U.S. presidency on an ‘anti-establishment’ ticket and the recent success of radical political parties voicing an anti-E.U. sentiment are trends which run contrary to growing support by Ukrainians of further integration with the European bloc.

✅  On November 21, 2013, protesters congregated in Kyiv’s Independence Square demanding closer ties with Europe. After the violent crackdown on activists a week later, the uprising turned into a much larger anti-government movement against then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Hromadske discussion panel focuses on how Ukraine’s Revolution fits into the current challenges to democracy as we know it.

✅  Philosopher: "One of the main principles of liberalism is the freedom of speech...We should be able to justify our choice in a free discussion. It’s dangerous if we can’t. Silent voters can silently vote the evil... Not just in Ukraine but in the U.S. and Europe."

✅  Fmr. Open University of Maidan Participant: "Russia’s so-called media war likes to blame Ukraine’s revolution for the war in Donbas. This is totally false because the war is a counter-revolution. The Russian side not only aimed the war at Ukraine but Europe itself."

✅  Co-author of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement text:  "The key change in Ukraine’s E.U. relations is not with trade, visa-free regimes or financial support. Of course, we make progress on all these. But from my perspective, most importantly, more European integration was our choice. Ukraine is now defending its own interests and is building its own story in the world."

Three years have passed since the start of the Euromaidan protests that paved the way for the revolution in 2014. In the beginning, the demonstrations were seen as a fight for European and democratic values; the rule of law, freedom of speech and an appeal to human rights. Today, many wonder what was achieved both domestically and globally, given the rise of radical political movements and anti-establishment sentiments in Europe and the United States.

According to Vasyl Cherepanyn, Director of Visual Culture Research Center, the Maidan Revolution was a utopian movement, and although perhaps naïve, it was nonetheless important. “Any kind of unrealized revolutionary change can be easily turned out into its opposite.”

Cherepanyn explains that the Maidan, like similar revolutionary movements that were a response to the economic crisis of 2008 and had a vision of the future, was different compared to the ‘post-apocalyptic dystopian image’ seen in other ‘movements’ today.

In terms of what has really changed in Ukraine today, Taras Kachka, Deputy Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation says that the events of the last 2-3 years have been revolutionary for the people of Ukraine.

“From an economic perspective, despite the economic downturn, there has been a shift of economic relations with trade partners,” he explains. “Ukraine has, thanks to Maidan, built a business strategy with the EU, which will ultimately benefit and influence the life of the Ukrainian people.”

And while from a practical level, it may be difficult for Ukraine to receive support from the EU for things like a visa-free regime, Kachka says that Brussels, like Russia, continues to be pragmatic. “Ukraine understands its own interest,” he says, “It was our own choice.”

According to philosopher Vakhtang Kebuladze, Ukraine’s revolution was for equal rights, and the way to freedom is long. He adds that we need to be responsible for our free choice: “Even liberal establishments can be corrupted. Not only in Ukraine but in classic democratic countries.”

Hromadske’s Nataliya Gumenyuk and Andriy Kulykov spoke to Taras Kachka, Deputy Executive Director of International Renaissance Foundation, Vasyl Cherepanyn, Director of Visual Culture Research Center and Vakhtang Kebuladze, a philosopher during the live broadcast of The Sunday Show on November 20th, 2016 in Kyiv.