A journalistic investigation revealed the Ukrainian military was paying inflated prices for food, breaking what the Financial Times called 'a taboo on criticising the government during wartime'. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by firing and forcing the resignation of several high-ranking civil servants, governors, state ministers, and members of parliament involved or suspected of involvement in this and other corruption or embezzlement schemes. Ukrainian prosecutors and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau launched numerous investigations. International and domestic observers say Ukraine has made significant anti-corruption reforms in recent years, but that the scandals show that much work remains to be done.
Ukrainian activists decried the passage of a law on the procedure of selecting judges for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) on 20 December, saying it failed to provide for an independent court and put Ukraine’s European Union aspirations at risk. The bill, while ostensibly intended to provide for a politically independent CCU, instead left nomination powers in the office of the president and in the Verkhovna Rada, where President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party holds an outright majority. Judicial reform activists had asked President Zelenskiy to veto the law, and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission issued a critical opinion recommending several changes the day before the bill was signed into law.
Ukrainian troops re-entered the port city of Kherson in southern Ukraine on 11 November, bringing the city with a pre-war population of 300,000 back under Ukrainian control for the first time since February 2022. Kherson is the regional capital of one of the four regions Russia claimed to have been annexed in an illegal and illegitimate referendum in September 2022. Human rights experts are researching reports of widespread torture and arbitrary detention under the eight-month occupation.
Trade unions and labor activists are concerned about a planned merger of Ukraine’s benefits and pension funds, arguing the proposed cost-cutting measure will hobble the state’s ability to fund its social obligations. The move is part of a longer trend to remove the state from social provision criticized by domestic and international trade unions.
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Supporting Ukraine’s Democracy After the War: Key Issues, Comparative Experience and Best Practices: GSoD In Focus No. 14
The international community broadly accepts the necessity of providing significant financial and technical assistance for reconstruction in Ukraine, but equally vital is the provision of concomitant support for Ukraine’s work to preserve and reconstruct its democracy and democratic institutions on its own terms.
The Ukraine War and the Struggle to Defend Democracy in Europe and Beyond: Rising stakes in the struggle for democracy
Increasing authoritarianism in some countries, such as Russia, coupled with gradual democratic erosion around the world, poses an exceptional threat to a rules-based global order, and consequently to peace and prosperity. The invasion of Ukraine is the most blatant and tragic realization of this threat.