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Mutual International Project of Institute of Society Transformation (IST, Ukraine) and The National Endowment for Democracy (NED, USA)

February 1, 2007 January 31, 2008


I. BACKGROUND:

Although they started from similar points as post-Soviet states, Russia and Ukraine have taken very divergent paths in their social, economic and political evolution. After a brief experiment with an anarchic but indisputably pluralist form of government, Russia has begun a retreat towards a more authoritarian system that goes by the name sovereign democracy. Ukraine, on the other hand, after languishing for most of the 1990s and early 2000s under the soft authoritarian rule of Leonid Kuchma, experienced an apparent breakthrough in the 2004 Orange Revolution. Yet further progress towards democracy has been stymied by the legacy of corruption and mismanagement bequeathed by the Kuchma administration, exacerbated by conflicts between the legislative and executive branches.

An additional legacy, of first Russian and then Soviet imperialism, further widens the gap between the two countries. Russians are quick to dismiss Ukrainians as unsophisticated bumpkins and to assume that the ideals expressed in the Orange Revolution are nothing more than slogans introduced by foreign provocateurs. Ukrainians are often defensive when dealing with Russians, seeing them as arrogant aggressors who cannot accept the loss of their empire. Yet in spite of these tensions, in both countries, there are many who still express the aspirations to democracy that first drove their countries to declare independence fifteen years ago.

Russia and Ukraines higher education institutions, with their traditions of measured discussion of even the most controversial issues and their longstanding contacts with each otherin some cases, dating back to the Eighteenth centuryhave the potential to help Russians and Ukrainians set aside their differences and capitalize on each others experience to start democracy moving forward again in their countries. The Institute of Society Transformation has received Endowment support for a program that will bring Russian and Ukrainian scholars, students and activists together to explore new strategies for advancing democracy. Through support of the Institutes work, the Endowment makes a concrete contribution to democracy in both Russia and Ukraine by helping reduce tensions and increase the exchange of knowledge and strategies.


II. PROJECT OBJECTIVES:

To deepen cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in education, scholarship, and the advancement of democratic principles.

To raise the knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian citizens regarding the advantages of democracy.


III. PROJECT ACTIVITIES:

The Institute of Society Transformation will bring together scholars from universities in the following cities: Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk in Russia, along with Kharkiv, Sumy, Luhansk, Mykolaiv and Donetsk in Ukraine; these are all border regions, offering easy access to the neighboring country. (The emphasis on regional universities in border towns is a unique feature of this program; often, scholarly programs focus on universities in Kyiv.) It is also possible that scholars from Lviv in Western Ukraine and Moscow will be invited to participate; some students, NGO representatives, and journalists will also participate in various events.

Endowment funding will be used to support two conferences, plus printing and distribution of conference materials; remaining activities will be supported using other funds. The first conference, for 70 participants, approximately evenly divided between both countries, will be held in Kharkiv in April 2007, on the theme Ukraine and Russia: Consolidating Stable Democracy through Cooperation and Accord. Participants will brainstorm on three themes: comparisons of countries where there is full, partial and sovereign democracy in terms of their freedoms and economic strength; consequences of Ukraine and Russias democratic prospects for European security and stability; and possibilities for effective cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in advancement of democratic standards of development. The second conference, also for 70 participants, but in the city of Voronezh in September 2007, will address the theme Ukraine and Russia: What Unites and Divides Us on the Road to Democracy. Participants will hear presentations and discuss the following topics: problems of Russia and Ukraines imperial past and democratic future in the context of political myths and contemporary realities; Ukraine and Russiatesting democracy by parliamentary and presidential elections; and the role of higher education in shaping a conscious choice for a democratic future.

For each of the events, the Institute will prepare transcripts of discussions, edited versions of experts reports, and an analytical overview of the event (including the introduction, text of experts reports, summary of discussions, conclusions and propositions). This will be prepared in Ukrainian, with a summary in Russian and English. These will be posted on a special web site that will be developed for the project, and distributed through the www.soskin.info network of web sites. They will also be distributed to the Institutes mailing list of 3,000 addresses

 

Ukraine and Russia: Consolidating Stable Democracy through Cooperation and Accord

April 27, 2007 Institute of Society Transformation (IST) held an International Ukrainian-Russian conference on the theme Ukraine and Russia: Consolidating Stable Democracy through Cooperation and Accord in Kharkiv. This event was carried out in the frameworks of Mutual International Project of Institute of Society Transformation (IST, Ukraine) and The National Endowment for Democracy (NED, USA) Higher Education for Democracy in Russia and Ukraine.

 Ukrainian partner of Institute of Society Transformation became Kharkiv National University named after V. N. Karazin, Russian partner Voronezh State University. Conference was organized under support of The National Endowment for Democracy (NED, USA) and under the patronage of Kharkiv Regional State Administration, Kharkiv Regional and City Councils.

 Institute of Society Transformation brought together professors and scholars from universities in the following cities: Voronezh, Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk in Russia, along with Kharkiv, Sumy, Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine these are all border regions, offering easy access to the neighboring country. (The emphasis on regional universities in border towns is a unique feature of this program; often, scholarly programs focus on universities in Kyiv.)  Representatives from Zhytomyr, Lviv, Kyiv and Moscow universities also participated; as well as chiefs of Kharkiv local authority, students, NGO representatives, journalists. Total amount of participants: 90 persons.

 Project, prepared by Institute of Society Transformation is aimed to form systems of constantly active interconnections between Ukrainian and Russian Higher schools and educational circles. Such system will support analyzing and spreading of relevant information about advantages of model of representative democracy realization in Ukraine and Russia. It is important to deepen cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in education, scholarship, and the advancement of democratic principles. And also to raise the knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian citizens regarding the advantages of democracy.

 Objectives of Ukrainian-Russian conference:

  • By holding a brainstorm with the participation of leading Ukrainian and Russian scientists, experts, authorities, NGOs, mass-media to find points of mutual understanding in political discussion about:
    1. success of the country that realizes model of full or managed democracy;
    2. impact of democratic prospect of Ukraine and Russia on security and stability in European region;
    3. possibilities of effective Ukrainian-Russian cooperation towards promotion of democratic standards of development;

        to involve student youth and mass-media into discussion about strategy of Ukrainian-Russian relations on the way of democracy strengthening;

        to disseminate expert estimations and analytical resumes, worked out at the international conference, among state and local power authorities, NGOs, scientific-analytical centers, Higher schools, mass-media, wider educational publicity of Ukraine and Russia for informing and making proper decisions.

 Open remarks on the conference were made by:

-         Arsen Avakov, Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration

-         Igor Shurma, Deputy of Kharkiv Mayor

-         Dr. Oleh Soskin, Director of Institute of Society Transformation

-         Vil Bakirov, Rector of Kharkiv National University named after V. N. Karazin

-         Vladimir Titov, Rector of Voronezh State University

Participants represented reports in the frameworks of three sessions:

  • Ukraine and Russia on the way to democracy: peculiarities of transmission period.
  • Democratic prospect of Ukrainian-Russian relations after The Orange Revolution.
  • Higher school as the significant factor of democratic values amplification in Ukraine and Russia.

After presenting of expert reports, participant of the conference took part in the wide discussion, where such topics were talked over:

  • Comparisons of countries where there is full, partial and sovereign democracy in terms of their freedoms and economic strength;
  • Consequences of Ukraine and Russias democratic prospects for European security and stability;
  • Possibilities for effective cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in advancement of democratic standards of development.

Interviewing

During the Ukrainian-Russian conference Institute of Society Transformation interviewed event participants to assess their reaction to the events, including contacts made with individuals from the other country. Purpose of interviewing, prepared by IST, was revelation of public opinion concerning ways of Ukraine and Russia development, and also prospects of cooperation between these two states.  Questionnaire included such questions and variants of answers as:

  1. Could be claimed that Ukraine definitively got on the way of democratic development?

Yes

No

Didnt decide

  1. Do You consider that Russia develops democratically?

Yes

No

Didnt decide

  1. How do You think, which strategic model will choose:
Russia Ukraine
European

Eurasian

Didnt decide

 

European

Eurasian

Didnt decide

 

  1. Do You consider that development of relationships between Ukraine and Russia will contribute to maintenance democracy:
In Russia In Ukraine
Yes

No

Didnt decide

 

Yes

No

Didnt decide

 

Results of interview are presented in table (.xls)

Conclusions

All participants of international conference made a conclusion that Ukraine and Russia are though hard, but constantly, on the shove of democratic transformations. It is obviously that in each country this process has own specific, conditioned by national traditions and system of management. At the same time prospective alternative to democratic development of states doesnt exist. Trial to create totalitarian or, moreover, autorotation form of government will discard to many years back Ukraine and Russia both in their development. Participants of the conference from Ukrainian and Russian side emphasized that for strengthening of democracy in each state it is essential to create mutual partnerships in different segments of civil society. This concerns peculiarly scholarship, educational and youth spheres.


IV. EVALUATION PLAN:

Objective: To deepen cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in education, scholarship, and the advancement of democratic principles.

The Institute of Society Transformation will interview event participants to assess their reaction to the events, including contacts made with individuals from the other country.

The Institute will report on the content of initiatives arising in connection with its events and track their progress.

Objective: To raise the knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian citizens regarding the advantages of democracy.

The Institute will analyze the press coverage of its activities and the descriptions given of their content to determine how well the pro-democracy message is being reported to the Russian and Ukrainian publics.

The Institute will note the public reaction to their booklets and the event reports.

The Institute will track the number of visitors to their web site and which materials they download.


V. ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND:

The Institute of Society Transformation was founded in 1994 with the goal of strengthening Ukrainian democracy through support of economic and political reforms at the local, national and international levels. Among other activities, the Institute organizes workshops, roundtables, conference and other scholarly events; prepares forecasts, reports and commentaries; organizes visits of Ukrainian officials to fully developed democracies; and produces books and other information materials for the general public, including Economic Annals XXI, a well-regarded journal. The Institutes web page can be found at www.ist.osp-ua.info .


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