Local democracy in Ukraine

Yesterday I was attending an open forum with the long and ambitious name VLADA I HROMADA: CHESNA ROZMOVA PRO MAYBUTNE CHERNIVTSIV which means (more or less) Authorities and Public: Honest talk about the future of Chernivtsi.

The event was an arrangement made mainly by the NGOs Laboratory for Democratic Transformation and CHESNO, one of many political “watchdogs” that popped up during and after Euromaidan. However, it was also sponsored by USAid. Maybe a reason why the arrangement could be somewhat lavish. It was held in the impressive Marble Hall of the Chernivtsi University. Tv-cameras zoomed in on the Mayor Oleksey Kaspruk and other prominents present.

Pic: Hans Wåhlberg. The Mayor Kaspruk opening the forum at Chernivtsi University

The discussion about the future of Chernivtsi was divided into three sections with different themes; Cooperation between the Public and the City Council – how to achieve transparency and openness, Energy effectiveness, and Public Transport and Development of mobility.
The form for the discussion was three panels for the respective section consisting of mainly local politicians. So it turned out more as an opportunity for promotion of these local politicians and their parties more than an open debate. The dialogue that was expected (at least by me) between the public and the Council was therefore limited to a short time by the end of each section for questions and opinions. But even this time was occupied mainly by, for example, the deputy Mayor having her view on the subjects of discussion expressed.

One of few real representatives of the public in the panels was Artem Zhuk, given a chance to promote his petition about how to make the city of Chernivtsi more accessible for disabled persons. A practical example of how to care for the future of this town.

Pic: Hans Wåhlberg. Panel discussing public transport. Artem with the mic.



It also became the topic that seemed to stir up something of a debate within the panel. And some discussion afterwards.

Pic: Hans Wåhlberg. Artem and Alina Olevich, Samopomich


This petition happened to be scheduled to be brought up for decision in the City Council House later on the same afternoon. But first some tasty snacks in the canteen of the University…

Pic: Hans Wåhlberg. Artem is hungry after presentation of petition.


… and then off to the Council House with the petition and high hopes (?) for a positive decision maybe…

Pic: Hans Wåhlberg. Disappointment at the Council House



However, a disappointing ending of the afternoon, since no decisionmakers turned up. Consequently no decision could be made. Maybe everyone was busy attending the forum at the University, networking for the future of Chernivtsi? Anyhow, a new date was set up for this issue so maybe next time they will turn up? If for no other reason so at least to show good will to promote the cooperation between the public and the council which was such an important theme at the Forum?