Introduction to the Special Issue. Civil Society in Ukraine: Building on Euromaidan Legacy


  • Olga Burlyuk Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Natalia Shapovalova Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, United States
  • Kateryna Zarembo National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; New Europe Center, Ukraine



civil society, democratization, government, Eastern Europe


The idea of this Special Issue appeared in early 2014, when the heat of the fire on Kyiv’s Independence Square had not fully cooled down and when many civic activists and newborn volunteers had turned their ceaseless energy to yet another fire first in Crimea and then in Eastern Ukraine. The events that seemingly put the state of Ukraine on the brink of its very existence were evolving too fast, but civil society’s response to them was no less prompt and adaptive. Volunteers and activists were trying on new roles each day as they were helping those escaping persecution, repression and hostilities, equipping and maintaining those who fought with weapons or joining their ranks, developing reform agenda and drafting legislative proposals. What seemed astounding back then, and still does today, was how those thousands of volunteers and millions of “ordinary citizens” who mobilized to support new civic initiatives took over the functions of the weak and nearly collapsed state eroded by corruption, nepotism, the neglect of its citizens and of the country’s national interests. Challenging a post-Soviet monster disguised behind the mask of electoral democracy and market economy, citizens were bringing in a new social contract based on trust and solidarity on which a new state could be built. The speed of events and the scale of civil society engagement precluded any long-term comprehensive analysis, yet researchers’ zeal to reflect upon what looked as a tectonic move in Ukraine’s political and social development took over. At first, our idea was to co-author an article examining civil society’s role in a post-Euromaidan Ukraine, but soon enough the task became too big. The initial idea thus evolved into producing an edited volume with different authors looking into their respective fields of civil society in Ukraine in order to grasp at least a small portion of change. We are grateful to many researchers in Ukraine and abroad who responded to our call for papers in May 2016 and who contributed their ideas to this Special Issue. Some of these ideas eventually turned into articles and we would like to give special thanks to those colleagues who bore with us through rounds of revisions till the very end of this journey. Their articles made this Special Issue happen. We are also grateful to the Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal for hosting this Special Issue and for supporting our initiative from the early stages through review and editing to the publication process. We would like to thank UACES – the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies, UESA – the Ukrainian European Studies Association and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in European Studies at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy for their financial and logistical support in organizing the Final Conference of this project, which took place at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on November 21, 2017, the fourth anniversary of the Euromaidan. We are also enormously grateful to all the participants of the Conference for their remarks, comments and questions. Finally, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Kyiv office of Baker McKenzie, which has provided financial support to the publication of this Issue.

Author Biographies

Olga Burlyuk, Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University

FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University (Belgium), where she carries out her own Culture in EU External Relations: The Case of Ukraine project. Her research focuses on EU external relations, in particular its efforts to transform third states and societies through the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The (Eastern) European neighborhood, and specifically Ukraine, is her area of specialization. Olga’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Common Market Studies, East European Politics and Societies, East European Politics, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, and European Journal of Law Reform. Alongside her academic career, Olga is an active member of the Ukraine expert coordination group in Brussels and has offered expertise to the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, the Mission of Ukraine to the EU, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others. She holds a Bachelor and a Master in Law from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Ukraine), an MA in European Studies from Maastricht University (Netherlands), and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent (UK).

Natalia Shapovalova, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and associate fellow with Vesalius College, Brussels. She is a member of the Carnegie Civic Research Network. In 2016–2017, she worked with the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in eastern Ukraine. Prior to that, she worked as a researcher for FRIDE, a European think-tank based in Madrid and Brussels, and as a policy analyst for the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv. She has authored and co-authored dozens of policy studies, including those commissioned by the European Parliament, the Swedish Agency for International Development, and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and op-eds for major Spanish and European media outlets. Her research interests include politics in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, democratization and civil society, EU foreign policy and lobbying. She has a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick (UK). She also studied at Maastricht University (Netherlands), the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska (Poland) and the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Ukraine).

Kateryna Zarembo, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; New Europe Center

Deputy Director at the New Europe Center (NEC), a think tank based in Kyiv, Ukraine. She co-teaches the “European Foreign and Security Policy” course under a joint Master’s Programme of Jena University (Germany) and the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Ukraine). Her areas of specialization are Ukraine’s foreign policy, Ukraine’s relations with the EU, Poland and Italy, EU CSDP missions in the Eastern neighbourhood, and RussiaUkraine conflict. Kateryna holds a PhD in Political Science from the National Institute for Strategic Studies (Ukraine), an MA in European Studies from University College Dublin (Ireland) and an MA in English and Italian languages from Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University (Ukraine).


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How to Cite

Burlyuk, O., Shapovalova, N., & Zarembo, K. (2017). Introduction to the Special Issue. Civil Society in Ukraine: Building on Euromaidan Legacy. Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal, (3), 1–22.