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Governance challenges in Ukraine in the situation of ongoing war

Dr Rano Turaeva is a Senior Researcher at the Leibnitz Institute for Regional Geography and a habilitating candidate at the Ludwig Miximillian University in München in Germany. Besides her research on post-Soviet countries, she also provides consulting services for various international organisations on the diverse issues concerning post-Soviet countries since 2005.

Her first book about Migration and Identity was published in 2016 with Routledge and the second book on migration in Russia is in preparation.

1. What is your view on the efficiency of the Ukrainian government regarding accommodation of over 1 million internally displaced people from the Crimea and Donbas region since 2014?

The current government in Ukraine has to find its standing regarding internal and external strategic plans. The country is torn both economically and politically. The system has also been fragmented from within due to the diversity of interest groups and networks which have benefited from the ongoing war. The security has developed into a capital intensive business model. Given this situation, it is difficult to predict or assess the ability of the current government, who would have the capacity to deal with such masses of internally displaced people. The system of registration is not much effective and often serves as a barrier for average people to access basic needs.

2. What measures should be taken by the Ukrainian government to improve legal mechanisms devised to assist such internally displaced persons? Which experiences can the Ukrainian government draw upon to ensure better reintegration policies and more tangible results?

The registration system should be reformed. It should not be such restrictive and cut people off the basic needs and instead serve as an administrative tool to have an overview of the mobile residents, such as making the procedures easier and accessible for average residents. The legal instruments are reformed, and a legal basis is there. However, besides legal reforms, one needs to ensure a general principle of following the rules or mechanisms installed to stop legal nihilism, which is partly the problem of deep-seated corruption, which also destabilizes the whole system.

3. What is your opinion on the Kremlin’s systematic oppression of Crimean Tatars in Crimea since 2014? What could be done to reverse it?

The question about the opinion on the Russian oppression, in general, is the question of taking sides. No oppression of anybody or any place can be justified. The way to a peaceful solution of the problems in general between Russia and Ukraine is peace talks, which should be systematically followed also supported through external powers. There is no other solution to any conflict without establishing a dialogue and reaching mutual consensus.

4. In case if the situation in the Donbas region improves and peace is finally reached, what challenges could Ukraine encounter while reintegrating its previously occupied eastern territories? How could Ukraine ensure swifter reintegration of the Donbas region and its people, state authorities, etc.?

The East of Ukraine has not only collapsed physically, ecologically, economically, and politically but also the identity crisis within the local population became so stark that there is much work to be done to bring back peace and mutual coexistence of population with diverse political opinions. The conflict-affected regions need to be rebuilt, and the system needs to be reinstalled to bring back normality into the lives of the residents of those regions. Currently, there are two parallel administrative infrastructures in place one Ukrainian and another self-proclaimed government, which makes governance more challenging.

The major problem in Ukraine remains poor governance, legal nihilism, and internal conflicts of interests among power brokers who have no interest in peace since conflict brings not only capital but also creates a favorable environment for criminal activities under the conditions of chaos and weak state. Better control over weapons needs to be ensured so that these are not misused by criminal groups. Another major challenge in the situation of ongoing war is a collapsed healthcare system, which is not yet capable of accommodating the basic health needs of the local population and particularly rural areas, as well as those who are displaced. The mental health of the general population, mainly those people affected by the conflict, is non-existent, and there is a lack of professionals who could offer such services. Generally, medical care is not only physically accessible but also not affordable for an average citizen.

In general, the country was not ready for such a protracted conflict. There are no systematically installed mechanisms that could accommodate the additional needs of the population in exceptional situations like ongoing war. Specifically, such mechanisms as better transportation channels and means and improved fit services and mobile infrastructure should be organized. At the same time, modern systems of governance need to be installed to ensure better administration of mobility and flexibility. Better communication and democratic institutions need to be supported to ensure civic participation of the younger generations in decision making and governance of the country.

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