The first seminar of the XV-XVI program of the USPS

On July 22, after a one-year break, the Ukrainian School of Political Studies began the First Session of its XV-XVI program!

The first session is always focused on values – we compare our “compasses” with the group, introduce participants to the principles and format of the School and choose the next vector of work. Thus, in 16 years, the USPS has gathered a Community of more than 500 leaders from all over Ukraine. And this year, we have 38 new participants.

Svitlana Matvienko, Executive Director of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, and Olena Lytvynenko, Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, congratulated the participants on the opening of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies. They noted that USPS is one of the strongest programs in the entire network of Schools of Political Studies under the auspices of the Council of Europe and that Alumni of the School are driving the changes and reforms needed to strengthen Ukraine.

Problems of migration in Ukraine

People are the highest value. Thus, with a conversation about people and their importance in the context of the state, we began the First Session of the USPS.

Ukraine is losing people. People are leaving and don’t come back. Why is this happening, how can this be changed, and do we need to fight migration? This is what Ella Libanova, a scientist in socioeconomics, demography, and labor economics, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, told us.

European mirage of Ukraine

The Agency for Legislative Initiatives has always supported the course of European integration, so this topic is essential for us and the USPS Community. To discuss such an important topic, we invited Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, MP, Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union.

It is important that Ukrainians identify themselves as Europeans and speak the same “language” of values and principles perceived in the Western world. However, to what extent is it possible for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO in the current conditions? Does the voice of civil society stimulate the authorities to follow the chosen course for European integration? And what exactly do we want from our membership in the EU?

Psycho-physical acting training

Since the School is an educational and networking project, the “networking” part is no less important than the “educational” component. That is why to bring the participants closer and help them feel more comfortable in the new group, our alumnus and artistic director of the theater “Actor” Vyacheslav Zhyla, together with the actor and coach of the theater School “Sverhzadacha” Mykhailo Samarskiy, conducted training for our participants.

Ukrainian policy of national memory: how to maintain a balance between respect and politics?

Ukrainians have been fighting for the right to historical memory and truth for years. And now we can’t let that memory be erased. The history of Ukraine has many controversial moments, which are often speculated on by neighboring countries, so it is important to talk about them and defend our national narratives. What is the Ukrainian policy of national memory? How to talk about the Second World War and Babyn Yar? How to defend our history and take care of places of memory? Anton Drobovych, head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, discussed with the participants.

The endless history of Crimea: a point of restart

Crimea has been under Russian occupation for more than 7 years now, and Crimean Tatars are once again forced to fight for their rights. We cannot reconcile with this situation, so we are constantly bringing up an active dialogue on Crimea.

At the discussion panel on Crimea, participants talked with Anton Korynevych, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Alim Aliyev, Deputy Director-General of the Ukrainian Institute, journalist, co-founder of Crimea_SOS, and Sevgil Musaeva, editor-in-chief of the online media “Ukrainian Pravda”.

The strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea, what is happening with the peninsula now, and what are the aspirations of the Crimean Tatar people after returning of Crimea – these were the main topics of discussion.

World and Ukrainian economy: new normality

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken all areas of our lives, and of course, the economy is no exception. Even the most economically stable countries in the world have suffered from the effects of the pandemic. For the Ukrainian economy, which already faces many challenges due to war and Russian aggression, the pandemic chaos has been a real challenge – instead of the expected and necessary growth, we have experienced an economic downturn, the consequences of which are not yet fully understood.

How is Ukraine adapting to the new normality? What can be done to make our economy “survive”?

Oleh Ustenko, Adviser to the President of Ukraine on Economic Affairs, shared his expert opinion on these issues with participants of the USPS.

Ukrainian medicine during the pandemic. Myths surrounding reform. The new reality of COVID-19

The new reality caused by pandemics has completely changed our everyday life, but we still have many questions and misunderstandings about the whole situation regarding the pandemic.

How to increase the rate of vaccination? How much can Delta change the spread of the disease? And what will happen to the suspended medical reform now?

Oleg Petrenko, the first chairman of the National Health Service of Ukraine (NHSU) (2018-2019), an independent director for strategic development at the Dobrobut medical network, and Kateryna Bulavinova, a medical expert at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF Ukraine) in Ukraine, helped to dispel the most common myths about vaccination and explain why medical reform should be continued rather than postponed and “rethought”.

Is it possible to overcome corruption in Ukraine? Myths surrounding NABU and real achievements

All anti-corruption bodies are of public interest and are closely and constantly monitored by the media. To understand how the system works and answer the most pressing questions about the functioning of one of these bodies, the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk attended our seminar. The conversation was moderated by Vitaliy Shabunin, Chairman of the Board of the Anti-corruption action center, a public figure in the field of anti-corruption, and an Alumnus of the USPS in 2019.

What are the real results of the activities of anti-corruption bodies NABU, the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, SAP, NAPC? Is there coherence and a common vision between them in the fight against corruption? Why is Ukraine still at the forefront of corruption rankings? And when to expect suspicions of top corrupt officials? These questions were answered during the discussion.

The subjectivity of the Ukrainian parliament: Myth or real support for the state?

The level of trust in the Ukrainian parliament is critically low. Recent polls show that more than 75% of Ukrainians do not trust the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Why is this happening?

Olena Kondratyuk, Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, is convinced that the parliament is the key link to make decisions in Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian parliament has now lost its key role of supporting statehood, subordinating itself to the president.

How to restore confidence in the single legislative body of Ukraine and strengthen its subjectivity? What to do with gender inequality in the Verkhovna Rada and how to break the “glass ceiling” for women politicians?

All of the abovementioned were discussed by participants of the USPS program with Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Olena Kondratyuk and Lawyer, Head of the National Free Legal Aid System, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine (2012-2017) Andriy Vyshnevsky.

Ukrainian budget populism

The state budget is one of the most important documents for the functioning of the state, the formation of which takes into account all revenues and expenditures of the state. In Ukraine, every year, the share of expenditures increasingly exceeds revenues as public debt grows. In addition, inflation is not kept at the same level, and debt refinancing is stopped by populist decisions.

Victor Pynzenyk, Doctor of Economics, a state representative on the Supervisory Board of JSC “Main Gas Pipelines of Ukraine (Mahistralni Gazoprovody Ukrainy)”, helped the participants to understand all the subtleties of the current economic problems in Ukraine.

The Digital Transformation of Humanity: Threats and Opportunities

Cyberterrorism is in the top 3 threats to the country’s national security. We have long lived in a reality where the digital world often affects our lives no less than the real one. And while some people and countries reject this reality, others use it at various levels for enrichment, information theft, and bullying. And sooner or later, the question will arise: where to draw the line of digitalization, which humanity will not want to cross? How to secure your personal space? Can we trust our phones? Will the emergence of artificial intelligence threaten humanity?

These questions were answered during the First Seminar of the School by one of the best experts in cybersecurity in Ukraine – Yegor Aushev, CEO of Cyber Unit Technologies and an Alumnus of USPS in 2016.

Trends in education: Ukraine on the educational map of the world.

The university is not a place of preparation for the labor market. This is the place where a person’s worldview is formed. However, in Ukraine, higher education is still perceived only as an institution to enrich your knowledge to be more competitive in the labor market.

Mychailo Wynnyckyj, head of the secretariat of the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, advises obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Ukraine and says that the quality of education in Ukraine is not as bad as people like to talk about – especially at the bachelor’s level. However, at the master’s and postgraduate levels, the quality drops sharply. What to do with it? How does the National Agency suggest reforming the higher education system and help universities? Mychailo Wynnyckyi answered these questions.

Since 2019, the USPS has annually awarded the Kateryna Gandziuk Scholarship for Civic Stance. Katia is an Alumna of the 2015 USPS program and, together with her father Viktor, the Ukrainian School of Political Studies, after many consultations with civil society representatives, chose Serhiy Filimonov for this scholarship in 2021.

Serhiy is a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war, awarded the Defender of Mariupol medal. He took part in the liberation of Mariupol and Marinka, in the battles for Ilovaisk, in the battles near Granitny, defending Ukrainian territories from the aggression of the Russian Federation, and fighting for the right of millions of Ukrainians to live peacefully in their independent country.

Serhiy Filimonov’s activities are consonant with the values and principles of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies. By his actions, Serhiy, like Katia, defends the interests of the democratic state of Ukraine.

This is how the First Seminar of the USPS in 2021 went. However, we are already waiting for a new meeting with the participants in Odessa at the next, no less interesting and busy session.