, Ukrainian lawyer and member of the Nestor Group, discussed a strategy for nation building in Ukraine
—and how to win the information war against Putin.
Basing himself on the report he contributed to, A Vision of the Country's Modernisation, Based on the Principles of Sustainable Development, Open Access, and New Values, Hlibovytsky elaborated on his ideas to solve the country’s political and social problems.
Hlibovytsky believes that, apart from Crimea and Dunbass, Ukraine is culturally closer to Southern Europe and more distant from Russia. Its political life is characterised by a less centralised and paternalistic approach to authority and a greater focus on the individual. Therefore, in order to understand Ukraine’s problems we need to look at the ways in which countries such as Greece, Italy and to a certain extent the Balkan states, grasped their problems. According to Hlibovytsky, the issue is that all too often “we never hear southern European discourses while discussing the politics of Ukraine”.
Until now “Ukraine never had the chance to create its own institutions”, and is facing the risk of “copy-pasting” institutional models, he said. Yet the Maidan’s demonstrations provided an opportunity to forge a political model that could push the country towards a sustainable future.
Ukraine’s future political model should have a decentralised character. In fact, Ukraine is a diverse country which cannot be governed by a unitary state; some political decisions should be taken at the grassroots level. Additionally, Ukraine must remain a bilingual country and should encourage the learning of other European languages. Only through this manner will Ukraine become an influential state in the eyes of other post-soviet countries.
Regarding Russia’s disinformation campaign, Hlibovytsky believes that media remains one of the tool to counter Russia’s imperialist ambitions. However, current grassroots media organisations are not strong enough to counter the Kremlin’s propaganda; it is believed that Russia will invest 15.38bn roubles in 2015 in Russia Today. Therefore, post-soviet states need an alternative discourse about Russia which could be achieved through the setup of a large media channel which would become a credible source of information. This channel should combine news and investigative journalism and be accessible through the cable and the internet. Its target audience should be the educated or those who have been the least intoxicated by Putin’s propaganda.
Maidan’s demonstrations opened a window of opportunity which has not closed yet. Despite Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, the war fatigue among Ukrainians, and a conflict-avoiding culture we should not “underestimate the resilience of Ukrainians”. There is hope and it continues up to this day; abuse of office has been decreasing, the civil society is getting stronger and recently the Ukrainian Orthodox Church stated that corruption is a sin. Eventually, Ukrainians will come to terms with their history, agree on their common future and “the real change will come when the citizen know that reforms can be implemented”.
About the Speaker
Yevhen Hlibovytsky runs a think tank and a consultancy focused on transformation issues in the former USSR. He is particularly interested in understanding how cultural factors affect the ability of societies to form democratic institutions. He is a member of the Nestor Group - an independent interdisciplinary expert group, which works on long-term strategy for Ukraine. Late February this year, the group issued its summary of three years of work: “Vision of Ukraine—2025: Contract of Dignity for Sustainable Development”. In his previous career, Yevhen Hlibovytsky was one of the top political journalists in Ukraine. He was one of the founders of Channel 5, which played crucial role defeating government censorship during the Orange revolution in 2004. He was also a Co-Founder of Hromadske.tv in Ukraine in 2013, which similarly was one of the key voices during the Maidan. Yevhen Hlibovytsky has been advocating for the creation of an independent Russian language media for the most underserved Russian and post-Soviet audience—young intellectuals, educated professionals and entrepreneurs—to counter the Kremlin’s propaganda.
The Transitions Forum examines the challenges and opportunities of radical political and economic change