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Transitional Justice in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine

Swimming Upstream

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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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5. Dealing with the legacy of the Donbas conflict

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5.1. The essence of the conflict

Almost immediately after the end of the Euromaidan protests, strong centrifugal tendencies were initiated in Ukraine, creating an unprecedented challenge that eventually resulted in armed conflict and consequently in the need to design policies aimed at peacemaking and peacebuilding as well as policies aimed at addressing the consequences of violence and violations of human rights that took place during the conflict. In order to analyse these policies properly a thorough understanding of the roots of the conflict is first required.

On 1 March 2014, the first pro-Russian meetings took place in the cities of Kharkiv, Odesa, Donetsk, Kherson and Mykolaiv. Similar events continued during the spring of 2014 in almost all big cities of eastern and southern Ukraine. The common denominator of these meetings was a disagreement with the change of authorities in Kyiv, which was often referred to as an illegal coup d’etat. The image of the Euromaidan protesters as insurgents willing to abolish the legitimate authorities was actively promoted by the Ukrainian government, especially since the beginning of 2014. On 19 February 2014, in the apogee of confrontation, the Security Service of Ukraine initiated an anti-terrorist operation against the protesters, thus suggesting that the latter were nothing but terrorists. This point of view was widely supported in Russian media which had a large audience in Ukraine, in particular—although not exclusively—among Russian-speakers. This interpretation of reality was reinforced after the escape of Viktor Yanukovych from...

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