IRF Director: Soviet atmosphere returns to Ukraine



Yevhen Bystrytsky, Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation is certain that politicians will not succeed in restricting the rights of civic organizations. He says that if a law restricting funding of civic organizations by foreigners is passed, they will work jointly.

“I don’t think it will be particular actions from the Renaissance Foundation, but joint actions of a huge number of civic organizations.”

Bystrytsky noted that there are around 3 thousand very active civic organizations in Ukraine. They work at all levels and work on a huge number of issues.

“We won’t be alone. When the time comes we’ll react together with the whole number of civic organizations. We’ll see. I’m simply convinced that they won’t be able to do that in Ukraine”.

I can say one thing: it won’t be possible to close them.

The future is nonetheless with free civic organizations which won’t be dependent on the authorities. This is an independent society, a civic society which the authorities must depend on”, he said, and added that the government must direct society, but civic organizations in their turn should be on the side of human rights.

He added that he was disturbed not by the fact that this law could be passed, but by the fact that people seriously believed this to be possible.

“That means that the atmosphere in society which has developed over the last year and a half is quite unhealthy and non-European. It is still of an absolutely Soviet type.

Since this is already in public thinking, that is dangerous in itself. Our government must react to that. It means that we are going in a wrong direction. It means that they need to change their way of working and their relations with the public”.

Mr Bystrytsky said that the adoption of such a law would “run counter to those pro-European tendencies which had just been noted in this government”.

“It’s clear that after the adoption of such a law nobody would talk seriously with Ukraine. It would be a terrible move backwards.”

As reported, the Party of the Regions has begun preparing a draft law aimed at establishing control over the funding of civic organizations in Ukraine. One variant would involve only Ukrainian nationals being able to finance their activities.  See for more details. 

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