Delegation of USPS at the 10th World Forum for Democracy

This year, the tenth anniversary World Forum for Democracy was held in Strasbourg. However, for Ukraine, this Forum is also important in that it is a large international platform to talk about the war so that Europe and the whole world do not forget about the horrors that our country is going through right now in order to convince the world to stop to look for “good” Russians and focus all their attention on crucial things – on supporting Ukraine.

Democracy: A New Hope?

This was the name of the Forum in 2022. The focus was on democracy: why is its spread slowing down? Why is democracy declining in some countries? How can it be fixed, and what democratic future is possible in the interests of people worldwide?

Photo: Council of Europe

The speakers of various panels spoke about preserving democracy requires more significant efforts to educate and train new leaders. The Ukrainian delegation at the Forum emphasized that saving democracy in a global sense is impossible until Ukraine wins the war with russia.

After all, Ukraine is currently an outpost protecting democratic European countries from the aggression of totalitarian states, particularly russia. And it is precisely from the end of this war that democracy will survive as a social construct in the world.

The USPS delegation made Ukraine’s voice loud and visible at the Forum. And we are very grateful for that.

First day

Thanks to the speech of Olha Stefanishyna, MP of Ukraine and 2016 USPS alumna, the participants of the Forum observed a minute of silence in memory of the people who died in the war defending Ukraine.

People in Ukraine give their lives for democracy, freedom, and the right to choose and Europe must remember the price of a peaceful life. And this contrast between the ordinary everyday life of other European countries and the challenges that people in Ukraine overcome every day was perfectly illustrated by Alina Mykhailova.

“After the conclusion of this forum, you will return to your homes, to your families and friends. I will return to Ukraine and immediately go to the front in my military unit in this uniform. Instead of a beret, I will wear a helmet, and instead of this microphone in my hand, I will hold an assault rifle. I will not go back to my mother and dog because my country is at war with the occupiers – the russians, who kill, rape, and torture Ukrainians every day. I will return to serve in the army, just like millions of Ukrainians”

Alina Mykhailova, a serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, deputy of the Kyiv City Council, and 2021 USPS alumna.

Europe and the reconstruction of russia?

There is a full-scale war in Ukraine, which has put the fate of world democracy at stake. However, Europe wants to talk about more than that.

The topic of the war in Ukraine really sounded at the Forum, but more in the background. Instead, a separate discussion panel was devoted to the topic “Why did democracy not work out in russia?”. Although there were calls against russian aggression towards Ukraine, also publicly voiced theses that not only Ukraine needs a “Marshall Plan” for reconstruction, but also russia, where they emphasized that without russia, the world will not be able to overcome climate and several other problems, so it should make more efforts to free russia

But the Ukrainian delegation did not stand aside and continually reminded the world of the importance of Ukraine’s victory. And now is not the time to talk about the future of russia and the possibility of democracy there.

“Before talking about the possibility of democratic development of these territories, it is necessary to carry out the process of decolonization, which is still incomplete. The imperial legacy, political culture, a legacy of historical and strategic narratives from the Russian Empire, which push russia to external aggression, still have to be overcome in this huge territory”

Olena Snihyr, Researcher of the European University Institute and 2012 USPS alumna.

And our alumna Oksana Hlebushkina (2007) told the truth, which is very uncomfortable for russian “liberals”, about her experience of living under occupation in Kherson.

“I spent 2 months in the occupation and left due to physical danger. My colleagues, with whom we participated in protests, were detained by the Rosguard. Russians also hunted veterans, police and local deputies. Since April, they started detaining people at their checkpoints in the middle of the city. Hundreds of people were detained and tortured in basements and prisons. Now they have all been taken to Crimea. Every day of the occupation allows them to commit war crimes, steal people, kill people. Now Kherson is without electricity, water and gas. Deaths from starvation have been recorded, as the region is blocked from all sides by the russians, and there is no medicine or food left in the city. That is why it is so important to support Ukraine and the army with weapons, do it quickly and not stop the aid. We don’t have time for long decision, we have no right to make a mistake. After all, every day of the occupation takes people’s lives.”

Oksana Hlebushkina, Executive Director of the NGO “Civic Center “New Generation”, 2007 USPS alumna.

All this shows how much more needs to be said, explained, and proved at all possible international levels, our Ukrainian position, so that the world hears and understands us. And when planning the future of Europe, it is necessary to clearly understand the role of russia in the problems that are currently affecting every European.

“This panel is about plans for future, so I’d like to take this opportunity to ask everyone in this room and everyone watching us online, please, when you’re discussing russia, remember that right now russia is killing Ukrainian children in the center of Europe. Because russia is a terrorist state”

Olha Stefanishyna, MP of Ukraine, 2016 USPS alumna.

End of the Forum

The end of this year’s Forum was a real surprise. And very unpleasant one.

While Ukrainians are giving their lives for the sake of the future, for the sake of freedom and the victory of democracy over imperialism, at the Forum they awarded diplomas and took pictures with “liberal” russian imperialists.

Photo: Council of Europe

There is no Ukrainian delegation in the photo because it is unacceptable for us to smile in the photo, standing next to the russians. Because we will never shake hands and applaud the “russian opposition”. Because for us, every russian is an enemy.

The Ukrainian School of Political Studies will continue to do everything possible to make the European community aware of this as well.

More materials from the Forum are at the link