Ukrainian Politics

Podcast: Resisting Russian propaganda: on nationalism in Ukraine

According to the Russian government, the goal of invading Ukraine was to “denazify” the country and its leadership and “to protect people” who have been “subjected to bullying and genocide». The trope of Ukraine «nazification» has been enormously highlighted and elaborated within the official Russian discourse since 2014. Since the Crimea annexation and the war in Donbass, the Russian state-linked mass media has been promoting discussions on the rise of nationalism and nationalistic movements in Ukraine portrayed as a threat to the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.

The current podcast is aimed at dismantling the Russian propaganda’s trope of Ukraine «nazification». Postdoctoral researcher Anna Avdeeva (Swedish School of Social Science) discusses the nationalism in Ukraine, understood widely, together with the Ukrainian scholar Dr. Maryna Shevtsova, Postdoctoral researcher at University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and Senior FWO Fellow at KU Leuven (Belgium). The podcast continues the series of the discussion on the war in Ukraine. 

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Civil society, Feminist perspectives, LGBTQ rights, Ukrainian Politics

School as a Battlefield: The Debate on Sexuality Education in Ukraine

Sex Education, a three-season Netflix series in which the teenage son of a sex therapist mother sets up an underground sex therapy clinic at his school, has been a resounding hit among audiences of various age groups across the globe, and Ukraine is no exception. Ukrainian teenagers and many of their parents seemed to appreciate following the on-screen adventures of diverse characters dealing with their sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, teenage pregnancies, STDs, gender-based violence, female orgasms, coming outs, asexuality, sex lives of people with disabilities, and so on. While the characters’ problems were avidly discussed by viewers of different ages on social media, would it be realistic to expect an open discussion of the above-mentioned topics in a typical Ukrainian classroom?

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Civil society, Feminist perspectives, LGBTQ rights, Ukrainian Politics

Covid-19 Pandemic Case Study: Ukraine

My report on COVID-19 situation in Ukraine for Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Brussels

 Covid-19 Pandemic Case Study - Ukraine

The first Covid-19 case was detected in Ukraine on 3 March in the western oblast of Chernivtsi. As of the end of August, almost 115,000 cases had been confirmed, including some 2,500 deaths. The primary sources of the initial outbreak were Ukrainians returning home from work and tourist trips from abroad.

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Feminist perspectives, LGBTQ rights, Ukrainian Politics

Struggling through COVID 19: challenges Ukrainian LGBTQ people face during the pandemic

On June 21, 2020, a Ukrainian NGO KyivPride, that for several years already has been the main organizer of the Pride week and Equality march in Kyiv, posted a video in which a drone carrying a large rainbow flag flew over various districts of the Ukrainian capital. The flag ended up placed on top of the Motherland Monument, a Soviet-era war memorial in Kyiv. The monument is a large steel statue of a symbolic mother holding a sword and shield. The drone flew in front of the sword so that on the video, it looked as if the mother was waving a flag.

As in many places across the world, Pride month in Ukraine was moved to an online format forcing the organizing committee to be extremely creative. For more than a week, Ukrainian activists hosted zoom-conferences and interview marathons as Ukrainian cities were under strict COVID 19 lockdown. Despite screen fatigue, online events had quite decent attendance. As everybody was talking from the comfort of their own rooms and flats, it was the first time that none of the Pride Month events were disrupted by conservative right-wing groups’. The safety and accessibility of online meetings also allowed for the participation of people who could not make it previously due to health conditions or not being able to afford it. For example, a Ukraine-based NGO I am working with, Parents’ Initiative TERGO, for the first time in seven years of its existence hosted a series of online meetings of parents of LGBTQ people. Bringing together parents and activists from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, and Lithuania. Of course, in theory, it could have been done before COVID, too. Still, it took a pandemic to push people to finally overcome their fear of technology and learn how to use online communication tools.

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Ukrainian Politics

Ukraine’s Civil Society and Zelensky: A Romantic Affair or Guest Marriage?

Before his unexpected victory in Ukraine’s presidential elections, the comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky’s engagement with civil society was almost non-existent. The last two years of former president Petro Poroshenko were marked for civil society organizations (CSO) – in particular those working on human rights, anti-corruption, and media freedom – by numerous obstacles, including physical threats, legal measures, and fake news campaigns. It is not surprising, therefore, that having a new, enigmatic figure in power aroused numerous concerns and anxieties among civil activists. One year after Zelenky’s inauguration, it is time to see if those concerns were justified.

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Ukrainian Politics

Fighting Gayropa – on LGBTI rights and state homophobia in Ukraine

Against the backdrop of the conflict with Russia and growing approximation with the European Union (EU), the LGBTI movement in Ukraine seemed to have achieved some of its political goals, such as introducing changes in legislation and holding peaceful equality marches in Kyiv. At the same time, the last decade has seen a growing number of homophobic attacks by right-wing groups across the country, while sociological surveys have shown an increased level of homophobic attitudes. The article questions the factors that caused the mentioned outcomes and examines the role that the EU, Russia, and national stakeholders played in these transformations.

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