Thursday, 3 November 2016, 19:00
Ukrainian Institute, London, 79 Holland Park, W11 3SW
Free but registration is required. Register here
Alina Shpak was among the authors of the four “decommunisation” laws adopted by the Parliament of Ukraine in April, 2015. Ms Shpak was also Deputy Director of the Security Service of Ukraine Archives, responsible for declassification and open access to KGB documents. She acts as an expert for the Reanimation Package of Reforms, a civic platform that serves as a coordination center for the development and implementation of key reforms in Ukraine. Ms Shpak has written manuals and trained staff on access to information and archival documents, policy-making, advocacy, quality management system.
Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance (also known as the Institute of National Memory) is a young institution which became prominent following widely-discussed policies of so-called “decommunisation” – Ukraine’s detachment from the Soviet legacy of symbols, aesthetics and its interpretations of history and collective memory. The Institute is staffed with 20 historians who are working on research and recommendation to the government on the policies of all important historic memory, proving to be a cornerstone of Ukraine’s fledging post-Maidan identity.
Starved of resources, the Institute nevertheless has to vast array of tasks to grapple with: it drafted decommunisation legislation, oversees the process of re-naming Ukrainian towns and streets and free access to archival documents of the Soviet secret services, removals of totalitarian movements and developing content for Ukrainian history museums, running exhibitions and information campaigns.
Naturally, the dramatic identity makeover spurs tensions and opposition, both inside Ukraine and abroad. In 2015, some 60 Western scholars published a joint letter, saying that “the wholesale condemnation of the entire Soviet period as one of occupation of Ukraine will have unjust and incongruous consequences.” The letter is also critical of the provision of a criminal offence in the law for those “denying criminal character of the totalitarian regime,” a claim strenuously denied by Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance.
At the invitation of the Ukrainian Institute, Alina Shpak, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, will be coming to London to give a talk and address the controversies raised in western media as well as to offer an insight into the issues the Institute has to face in its everyday work.