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Project: The Colors of Revolution

NGO concept new challenge for former Soviet republics

by Thaddeus McCleary

A crowd gathers as a local television station appears near Independence Square in Kyiv.
A crowd gathers as a local television station appears
near Independence Square in Kyiv.

While non governmental organizations in the West have been created to fulfill needs as they appear, former Soviet republics face a very unique problem. The ideology of the USSR completely supported the development of social programs through direct government support. In 1991, the broad range of services once provided by the government disappeared, leaving many groups suddenly aware of the support they had taken for granted.

The international community was quick to respond to Ukraine’s transformation to a democratic state. Perhaps the most attention has been given to the Ukrainian youth, lacking a strong socialist identity. “The youth movement was presented not as a dispersed group acting in a destructive direction but as a successfully finished process of self-identification, mobilized and united with common, democratic foundations of freedom and justice in the state,” explains Anatoly, an economics professor at the Odessa State Economics University.

Thaddeus McCleary and Petro Marko, director of US-AID in Lviv.
Thaddeus McCleary and Petro Marko, director of US-AID in Lviv.

The CYM (Central Youth Association) combines a mission to promote citizenship and public service as well as the aim to support Christian ethics in Ukraine. The organization holds activities throughout Ukraine as well as events throughout the world. The All-Ukrainian Youth Organization acts simply to involve youth in city projects in each region of Ukraine. Many historical celebrations and commemorations have been initiated by the organization in an effort to promote Ukrainian nationalism.

As the majority of the population of Ukraine lived during the Soviet Union, international efforts have been made to assist transitions in political and economic ideologies. Organizations such as US-AID and the Agency for Legislative initiatives work to educate mid-career professionals through seminars and publications. Beginning in 1997, US-AID began a program to match several cities in Ukraine with cities of similar characteristics in the United States. Members of local government representing the cities took turns traveling, educating one another and making suggestions. The western Ukrainian city of Lviv was matched with Philadelphia, as both cities serve as a key historical destination in their nations. “These partnerships were the first local strategic planning initiatives for Ukraine and helped our local government to be more transparent,” explained Petro Marko, director of US-AID in Lviv.

(Left to Right) Anatoly Kovalev, Thaddeus McCleary,  and Chris Moos in the building of the Odessa state  Economics University.
(Left to Right) Anatoly Kovalev, Thaddeus McCleary,
and Chris Moos in the building of the Odessa state
Economics University.

The newest contribution from the international community is a coalition of organizations to combat political and economic corruption in Ukraine. The “Freedom of Choice” coalition includes organizations such as Transparency International and The World Bank to bring corruption awareness and to develop anti-corruption measures throughout the country.

The development of civil service in Ukraine is the key for the country to shed the reliance on international assistance. International organizations working in Ukraine focus on fighting apathy through grassroots projects to provide a core of civic consciousness throughout the nation. As US-AID’s mission urges, the NGOs work in Ukraine “to further the processes of democratic development, economic growth and social sector reform in the region…to build the capacity to sustain their own progress.”

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