New generation of Kyiv politicians offers hope for Ukraine



2014/11/04 • Ukraine

Almost a third of the members in the incoming Verkhovna Rada are young people who do not have ties to pre-Maidan regimes and who identify themselves instead as part of the country’s new civil society and thus are emerging as a major force for change in the way in which things are done in Ukrainian political life.

Because of their numbers, their experiences and their youthful activism, they are likely to set the weather in the new parliament, pushing for reforms that will lead to European integration and thus representing simultaneously a great hope for Ukraine and a clear if not adequately appreciated threat to the goals of Vladimir Putin.

The “Profile” portal has begun to interview members of this cohort, and today published one with Svetlana Zalishchuk, a 32-year-old journalist who taught at Kyiv’s Shevchenko National University and worked for President Viktor Yushchenko.

The young cohort in the parliament, Zalishchuk says, is linked together by its commitment to civil society and Europe and by its experiences of two revolutions and repression in between over the last decade.  As such, “it is a destructive factor for the old system as a whole” and not just that of “the Yanukovich regime but [that of all] the old political culture.”

She and her young friends who come out of a coalition of some 50 civil society institutions hoped to enter parliament as a single voting bloc, but the existing electoral rules, including the five percent barrier, and the costs of campaigning prevented that from happening. Instead, “our plan has become to enter parliament through the old parties, in order to change the rules and allow new parties to enter the Rada.”

Her fellow members of this cohort, Zalishchuk continues, will work together as a group even though they were elected on various lists.  She herself was elected on the Poroshenko Bloc, but she tells “Profile” that she “is not a member” of that party. Instead, she will work with those who share her positions.

Zalishchuk says that she and her cohort favor integration with the European Union but notes that the world is changing so rapidly that a decade from now, Ukraine may have to deal with “a completely different world order.” Nonetheless, “the democratization of the post-Soviet countries is inevitable.”

As far as relations with Moscow are concerned, the new deputy says that no one can establish relations with someone “who wants to destroy you.”  Thus, there is no chance for relations with the current leadership in Moscow. “Putin is not interested in playing by the rules; instead, he plays with the rules. And that is the problem.”

At the same time, she notes, there is a Russia far larger than Putin, and “five years from now we will have another Russia,” one that Ukraine can have good relations with.  “The experience of the 20th century shows that any authoritarian regime sooner or later exhausts itself,” and then the country which remains moves toward democracy.


Tags: ,

  • Don Casavant

    Great news, and we needed some!!! I am sure these young people will form their own coalition and their numbers ensure that they will be a force that will be tough for the oligarchs to reckon with! It is also a good to see the young people take an interest in the future of their country! In a time when most people are jaded with the political system it is refreshing to see the youth of a country, put their country first and take action to try to make things better! I wish them good luck in their attempt! I am very sure that they will have a positive impact on the Ukrainian government!

  • Dirk Smith

    Newly awoken Ukraine vs. the last remnants of the soviet union. Slava Ukraine!!

  • sandy miller

    Bravo to Ukraine…Maybe just maybe Ukraine will win this time. All of it’s history has been moving towards independence and democracy..maybe this time they’ll make it. But, they must work together..they must learn to stop petty arguments and learn to comprise and always think of what’s best for the country as a whole and not their careers.

  • sandy miller

    Whatever they do they must not let Putler pit them against each other.

  • DemocracyJA

    Great to read! I wish them good luck. They need all support possible from their fellow democratic Ukrainians.

  • Brent

    This is very refreshing to read. This is the generation of the future, very unlike the “Opposition Bloc” in Ukraine, and Putin and all of his ex KGB fellow thugs, and the dinosaurs like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Gennady Zyuganov, and Sergei Mironov who all want to take Russia to its Soviet past, and Ukraine with it. Russia is going backwards, and Ukraine is moving to the future.

    I especially like Zalischuk’s open minded attitude about the EU. Ukraine should not forget this all started with the hopes of Ukraine to join the EU, but they have essentially been abandoned by the EU to fight Russia on their own. This does not mean they should give up the goal of EU membership as abiding by the standards, judicial practices and freedoms will be a great first step for Ukraine to escape centuries of Russian domination and corruption.

    The EU has become like NATO, stagnant and too full of ‘useful idiots’ members corrupted by Russian bribes and not willing to stand up to them but riding the coat tails and not contributing their share. Putin may actually get his wish and see the demise of both NATO and EU, but I think in their place will develop stronger and more agile unions among member countries with similar interests and ideologies. Sell outs like Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece and any others who are more interested in selling their souls to Putin now, will be on the outside looking in at a smaller and more unified organization capable or being more cohesive and responsive. I think the Baltic countries, the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Germany and Britain will all do well to form a true Northern European alliance with a future Ukraine that can be more unified with similar interests

    • Don Casavant

      Great post Brent!

    • Ian Rutherford

      more tea , vicar ?

    • Ian Rutherford

      only crack – cocaine can explain your remarkable productivity, gas.

    • gmab

      Great post. Like Ukraine, the EU needs some fresh air- newer, hard-working countries like Poland, Baltics & Ukraine who still believe in the fight for freedom, peace and prosperity. A new EUnion is quite possible in future!