Discussing Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine: events, reports and participants reviews

November 6, 2014 • Articles • Views: 1844

Prepared by Anna Morgan, Ukrainian Events in London

Last week London hosted two remarkable discussions devoted to the recent Parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

The first took place at the London Jewish Cultural Center, organised by the World Jewish Relief (WJR).

Безымянный

The elections and general developments in Ukraine were viewed from various interesting angles.  One of the panelists was quoted as saying:  “the attitude to the jewish community is a lacmus test of whether Ukraine is becoming a democratic European country”.  Having said that, Dr. David E. Fishman, Professor of Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, confirmed that the past 8 months were probably one of the best periods of Ukrainian-Jewish relations. There was noticeable participation of members of the Jewish community on the Maidan, where they spoke from the stage and fought alongside with representatives of other minorities and Ukrainians; Jewish people are now seen as a patriotic pro-Ukrainian group.

The WJR is now providing considerable support to thousands of victims of Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine, helping with the evacuation of those affected and providing shelter to internally displaced citizens. Not only do they do this, they assist in referral and employment services, assist in repairing hospitals and houses damaged during shelling, they help to prepare for winter by glazing windows and supplying warm cloths to those in need. Adva Rodogovsky, the Ukraine Programmes Manager at WJR said that never before in her life has she experienced such a solidarity of citizens and coordination from civil society as she found in Ukraine.

Interesting quotes from the event:

What we see in Ukraine is an emerging civic nationalism, rather than ethnic nationalism” -Dr. David E. Fishman, Professor of Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York

Ukraine has turned a corner toward reforms. Ideas of Maidan (rule of law, democracy etc.) have a real chance for succeeding its goals” – Rory Finnin, Director, Ukrainian Studies programme, University of Cambridge

Russia doesn’t want to see Ukraine succeeding in its reforms and becoming a prosperous state. Supporting Ukraine would be the best sanction for Russia” – Panelist

PARLIAMENTARY DISCUSSION

The second discussion was held in the House of Commons on October 28, organised by the Henry Jackson Society, a think-tank and policy-shaping force.  The event was supported and chaired by John Whittingdale MP, Chairman of the British Parliamentary Group for Ukraine.

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Interesting quotes from the event:

This Parliament has few excuses to not get the job done” – Andrew Wilson, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations

The Parliament we have is the best we could have had considering the current events” – Sergiy Sydorenko Editor-in-Chief of ‘European Pravda’

Maidan was a final good bye of Ukrainians to their Soviet past” – Natalia Popovych, Co-Founder and Board Member of Ukraine Crisis Media Center

Events participants’ comments and reviews:

A-Kuzmenko-IMG_2350-LKMr Andrii Kuzmenko, Charge d’Affaires of Ukraine to the UK:

People in the UK should understand that even at the difficult times of military and terrorist aggression against my country, Ukraine holds parliamentary elections in a transparent, democratic and legitimate way. In fact, these were the only such elections ever held in Europe during war time conditions. That is why the panel discussions on Ukraine, which were held in the Jewish Cultural Centre and in Parliament on these days, were so important. They help British people to understand processes happening in my country. Ukrainian society approved a European course of the state, reforms are implemented despite of the Russian aggression we face. Besides, people in Great Britain should be aware of the blatant violation of international law – annexation of Crimea, occupation of Donbas by the Russian-backed terrorists. My main priority at the event organised by World Jewish Relief was to rebut the Kremlin’s propaganda statements on the alleged revival of fascism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine. The event at the Parliament showed the support of Ukraine by the United Kingdom, even if we hear some balanced critics from our friends. Today we are witnessing the failure of the Russian information war here in London. The truth is on our side and we will win.

Andy-Hunder-Photo-236x300Andy Hunder, Director of the Ukrainian Institute in London

The excellent panel provided good insight on the election results and what comes next for Ukraine. I raised the issue of parliamentary immunity for the upcoming Rada and whether or not the newly elected MPs will willingly give up their ‘get out of jail cards’ and vote for abolishing parliamentary immunity. The panel, with which I agree, felt that it will be improbable that this will happen. Could be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

 

 

 

ekkEllie Knott, PhD Candidate in Political Science, London School of Economics

The key takeaway from discussions on the Ukrainian elections reinforced how the Ukrainian political class need to start reforming the system, moving away from nepotism and cronyism, and rebuilding relations between the political class and society. As Olga Onuch highlighted, that turnout was so low across Ukraine (and not just in the Donbas) shows how far Ukrainian politicians need to begin addressing how they represent society’s interests, rather than their own, to encourage more of society to engage in, and trust, political practices, such as elections. Related to this, and something all the panellists agreed on, was that immunity for Ukrainian deputies needs to end, so that being elected is no longer seen as an escape from scrutiny by oligarchs.

Image 2_Nataliya KozachenkoNataliya Kozachenko, Managing Director Vasant Connect Limited

The events of this kind are important and, going forward, should be taking place not just in London, but also around the world. To be successful and prosperous in this world – whether we talk about a company or a country – one needs, among other tools, a wise timely relevant marketing/ awareness strategy/ campaign. Ukraine is not an exception. If to think about it deeply, Ukraine – till November 2013 – in many ways remained unknown in Europe (and in the World). It is true that this country was on the front pages of the most reputable media in the world for the previous good 11 months {finally}, however, it’s not sufficient and the message, broadly speaking, has not been comprehensive. We might contribute the latter to the fact that a lot of coverage was made by the very talented people who reside outside Ukraine, hence, can’t be expected to have an intimate knowledge about what real Ukraine is. It’s fantastic to see them dedicating their time and energy to Ukraine and, effectively, tell Ukrainians how the world perceives them, their country and their current situation. The Ukraine-based experts – and the above event in the UK Parliament is a good evidence of that; they have their own – equally important – job to do in promoting Ukraine abroad, in connecting the dots among the Ukrainian past, present and future, in putting more light on the current political, economic and social situation in Ukraine and what the latter means to Ukraine and the rest of the World. The collective mission of the experts – both based in and outside Ukraine – is to send a strong message to the World that a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine is good not just for Ukrainians, but for the whole World. By keeping one more democracy in this world, we make it a better safer place for each of us, for our parents and our children, for everyone who is dear to us, for humanity.

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