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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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4. Historical justice


4.1. Theoretical background

Along with investigations and trials, as well as vetting policies, all of which are targeted at the legacy of the recent past, Ukraine’s post-Euromaidan authorities have initiated a policy addressed at the more distant Soviet past. As described in chapter 3, the logic of Ukrainian lustration policy has been refocused away from the Soviet legacy, as it was proposed in some lustration projects after the Orange revolution. As a result, Ukrainian lustration differs from vetting policies implemented in other post-communist countries. Banning former communist apparatchiks from access to public offices a quarter of a century after the transition in 1991 is rather an addition to Ukrainian lustration, not the essence of it. However, it does not change the fact that the Ukrainian public space remains full of symbolic reminders of the communist past (from names of cities, towns and villages, to some state rituals, such as the way of celebrating the Victory Day on 9 May). Some of these symbols have been organically modernized and were used by politicians appealing to the part of society characterized by nostalgia for the Soviet past in order to build specific “ecological niches” of core electorates. It refers especially to the business-political “Donetsk clan”, which obtained full domination over Ukrainian politics when Viktor Yanukovych was elected to the presidency in 2010. Ultimately, such nursing of Soviet traditions contributed to the maintenance of the specific self-identification of inhabitants of the eastern regions of the country and thus created...

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