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