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Transitional Justice in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine

Swimming Upstream


Igor Lyubashenko

The book focusses on transitional justice policies implemented in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. The author covers investigations and trials, vetting, historical justice, as well as two issues that only partially refer to the «transitional justice toolbox»: attempts to deal with the consequences of the armed conflict in Donbas and elements of institutional reforms that supplement transitional justice efforts. He explains constrains faced by each of the mentioned policies and interrelationships between them. The author comes to the conclusion that the Ukrainian case presents both similarities and significant differences in comparison to other post-communist countries, which implemented such policies much earlier. Furthermore, there is no evidence supporting the thesis that the implementation of these policies provides visible effects in terms of democratisation of the country.

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1. Introduction: Justice in times of political flux


1.1. What is transitional justice

Transitional justice is a relatively new research field. At the same time, the notion of transitional justice is used in so many different contexts and situations that there is, without any doubt, a need to start any analysis of particular cases of transitional justice policies with a clarification of terminology. In particular, two important and interrelated questions should be answered: what do we have in mind when we use the term transition and what makes the justice policies undertaken in the context of transitions something different from ordinary justice? In other words, there is a need to justify a particular case fitting into the category of transitional justice.

This chapter aims to serve that purpose, it explains the general theoretical framework allowing us to move forward with the analysis of specific transitional justice policies. I start with an explanation of what is meant by transition and what are the specific features of justice during a period of transition. Next, I put the specific case of Ukraine and it into this context, providing historical background for the analysis. Finally, the current state of affairs is presented, referring to research of Ukrainian transitional justice policies. What should be stressed here is that the subsequent subchapters are meant to provide the theoretical background, to embed the following analysis into the framework created by the existing literature, but not develop the theory of transitional justice as such.

The notion of transition...

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