At the start of 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine, and his allies fled after the Euromaidan popular uprising. It left the Ukrainian government practically dysfunctional in the face of economic crisis and military aggression. Volunteers and initiatives that were born during Maidan were thrust into power, taking charge of the mighty reform effort which Ukraine has embarked on over the last three years.
Despite facing immediate resistance from the old bureaucratic system, many of the reforms, implemented with the help of the international community, have been successful. With the Ukrainian parliament set to break for the summer, and talk about the slowing pace of reform growing louder, the Prague Civil Society Centre and the Kyiv School of Economics organised a two-week summer school with 35 leading public figures in the reform effort, and 25 civil society activists from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, to assess the situation in Ukraine. The speakers included:
The programme covered the Ukrainian economy, looking at developments before and after Maidan, and the systemic problems of oligarchy, and also looked at changes in the judicial, industrial, financial, education and healthcare sectors. The theme of Ukraine’s fight against corruption and at working to overhaul the distortions of the pre-2014 system were touched upon by nearly all speakers, who shared their triumphs, failures and lessons for would-be reformers in other countries across the region.