IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Organisations of EaP Civil Society Forum perform key functions in Euromaidan activities
It has been a week since the fall of a Yanukovych regime in Ukraine and ten days since the bloody shooting with nearly 80 persons killed by the snipers. Ukraine and international community mourn the victims and try to organise the process of help to nearly 1500 wounded, channel financial support to the families of the victims, find more than 300 missing protestors and make sure that all those unlawfully arrested during the period of the last three months are freed.
Many have argued that Euromaidan has changed Ukraine by revealing the birth of an impressive pro-democratic citizen’s movement. In just a few months, ordinary citizens have created multiple networks within and beyond the protests in central Kyiv for providing legal support to activists, information about the protests in Ukraine and abroad (including through internet-based television broadcasting), and developing non-violent means of protests (Natalia Shapovalova, FRIDE). The nature of this three-month struggle, which many activists have called as ‘diffused’ and un-organised, is grass-root, rapid response and volunteer based.
Overall, the movement activities were changing during this time depending on the political situation, which demanded non-delayed actions. Many participants of the EaP Civil Society Forum have been active in various sectors of Euromaidan movement, several examples below are just a tip of the iceberg of the civic activities that our colleagues from Ukraine have been involved in.
The Coordinator of the Ukraine’s National Platform of the Forum Oleksandr Sushko is part of the All-Ukrainian Union Maidan, which serves as Euromaidan Council - the most centralised platform, where the political decisions of EuroMaidan are taken that were and are voiced at the euromaidan stage. This Union played a role of a mediator of Euromaidan with the opposition leaders and parties. Oleksandr Sushko on a regular basis participated in meetings with international leaders including Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule and diplomatic community providing the internal perspective on Euromaidan and possible diplomatic solutions.
Andriy Kohut, Coordinator of Working Group 4 “Contacts between People” of the Ukrainian National Platform was a founder of the EuroMaidan segment called Hromadskyy Sector (Civic Sector) – a non-political platform which was taking care of the everyday activities and needs of the protesters, including tents, food supplies, accommodation for those arriving from the regions, etc. Under this umbrella, a strong informational support and social media coordination was organised with a published newsletter, appeals and active spread of information through facebook and twitter. This was especially important, when after the events of the 30th of November many activists have disappeared and required urgent medical help. Civic Sector of Maidan and one of its leaders - Andriy Kohut is taking an active role in archiving and saving documents that serve as proof of money laundering on Mezyhirya – an enormous real estate of Yanukovich, which has become a symbol of corruption of Yanukovych regime and is now under state ownership.
Another initiative of EuroMaidan, which received a well-suited name - Maidan SOS, was launched to deal with rapid responses, including legal, medical and informational support to the victims. Rostyslav Dzudza – a coordinator of Working Group 5 “Social Dialogue” of the Civil Society Forum was part of Maidan SOS everyday activities. He informed that many civil society organisations worked as undercover hospitals, where wounded were treated. Activists were afraid to go to the professional medical institutions, as there was an ongoing danger of being arrested when admitted.
Today Maidan SOS is collecting international donations for the victims and families and deals with the legal protection, as well as coordination of the work of human rights violations with international and national experts.
A number of local and regional initiatives are led by other Forum’s participants. Yaryna Borenko, an activist based in Lviv and a former coordinator of Working Group 4 is involved in transferring heavily wounded activists abroad for medical care. Laboratory of Legislative Initiatives, led by Ihor Kohut, a former EaP Civil Society Forum Co-Chair, works as a legal network in the regions in providing legal help and assistance. Forum affiliated and EU-funded Eastern Partnership Media Freedom Watch project run by Internews-Ukraine is active in protecting journalists and spreading information to the world community about the alarming violations of freedom of speech.
EaP Civil Society Forum together with Ukrainian activists and their families is mourning the victims of EuroMaidan. National Platforms from all EaP countries have expressed solidarity with their Ukrainian colleagues and send their ‘glory’ to the civil society in Ukraine. The Forum would like to thank the Lithuanian colleagues who have transferred 20.000 euros to the victims, as well as Czech organization People in Need for sending volunteer doctors and medical assistants, when it was most needed and other people and organisations for their contributions.
Much work still lies ahead. The latest developments in the Crimea are extremely worrying and much attention and support from the international community is required to stabilise the situation and ensure the democratic future and territorial integrity of Ukraine.