Connect with us


Young Ukrainian mayor offers hope of a new politics – Atlantic Council



34-year-old Rivne Mayor Oleksandr Tretyak (pictured, center, with members of his municipal team) was elected in late 2020 in a vote that reflected a strong local appetite for political change in the western Ukrainian city.

In November 2020, Rivne residents voted for a dramatic change in the local status quo by electing 34-year-old Oleksandr Tretyak as their new mayor. Despite polls showing him starting the election campaign in September with support levels of just 1.2%, the charismatic candidate managed to score an impressive victory.

Tretyak was the only candidate from former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party to be elected mayor of a regional capital anywhere in Ukraine during the country’s late 2020 local elections. Supporters say he prevailed because he presented a credible vision of how to change the political climate and ensure the future of Rivne as a truly European city.

Winning an election against the odds is a significant feat, but it doesn’t answer the larger question of “can he govern?”

During his first 100 days in office, one of the young mayor’s priorities has been changing the local leadership. “People are policy” as the saying goes, and Tretyak immediately replaced all the city’s deputy mayors, some of whom had served for more than a decade.

Next, he formed a broad coalition to govern the city. This coalition includes his own European Solidarity party, along with Holos party and Rivne Together, a local party led by his main election opponent. Tretyak did not stop at including his main opponents in the new city coalition; he also tapped his mayoral opponent to serve as secretary of the city council, a position which yields much power at the local level in Ukrainian politics.

Subscribe for the latest from UkraineAlert

UkraineAlert is a comprehensive online publication that provides regular news and analysis on developments in Ukraine’s politics, economy, civil society, and culture.

With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of abating, Rivne’s new mayor has already kept his election promise to establish a local oxygen generation station, which plays a crucial role in saving the lives of thousands of COVID-19 patients. Not only is the oxygen generation station one of the largest in the country, but it was established through coordination with the Rivne branch of the National Health Service of Ukraine. In other words, Tretyak appears to have succeeded in identifying practical solutions to maximize government efficiencies while using existing resources.

Until recently, the city was paying up to one million hryvnas per month to bring oxygen supplies from Lviv. This meant putting itself at the mercy of unpredictable roads, transportation problems, and bad winter weather. Meanwhile, further steps are being taken to improve local healthcare, ranging from creating a regional healthcare cluster to making Rivne one of Ukraine’s organ transplant centers.

Improving efficiencies in local government based on best practices is another area of change that the new mayor is attempting to bring to the city. Prior to Tretyak’s election, Rivne had been one of the few remaining Ukrainian oblast centers where separate city departments had yet to be established. Tretyak has since begun the modernization of city services through the introduction of designated departments to systematize the performance of municipal services.

Additionally, the mayor has created an advisory group of key experts in a range of different fields. To prevent corruption, Tretyak is working to adopt the best practices of other Ukrainian cities to install an anti-corruption unit which monitors city expenditures and identifies risks before they are allowed to take root. None of this is rocket science, but it is long overdue in this city of 250,000 residents close to Ukraine’s EU border.

Local government is not always about long-term strategies, of course. When a major snowstorm was forecast in February, Tretyak called an emergency Sunday meeting of key city officials to pull together available resources in order to ensure that the streets were cleared and navigable for traffic the following morning. The move contrasted sharply with parallel developments in Kyiv, which struggled with the heavy snowfall for days, and neighboring Lviv, where media praised the work of the Rivne mayor as a model of effective local government.

Tretyak’s first 100 days in office could well be summed up by the three key themes of “decentralization, dialog, and digitization.” Whether its yielding powers to newly created departments, engaging in dialog with experts and ordinary citizens alike, or forming a working group to digitize city services, Tretyak’s supporters say the new mayor is working hard to underline his democratic credentials.

In addition to revitalizing local services and boosting engagement with Rivne residents, Rivne’s new mayor also hopes to open up the city to the rest of Ukraine. Instead of being known primarily as a convenient stop-off on the route between Kyiv and Lviv, he wants Rivne to become a place all Ukrainians are eager to visit. Initially, his message is that the paradigm has changed and Rivne is now firmly on the path towards becoming a modern European city.

This is a potentially attractive message for Ukraine’s international partners and investors. If the city’s transformation gains ground, they may wish to explore local opportunities in more detail. Rivne already boasts attractive logistical connections to Kyiv and Lviv along with close proximity to the EU, while Ukraine’s post-2014 decentralization reforms mean that local government has a larger role than ever to play in many of the issues that matter most to investors.

At a time when Ukrainian audiences are once again becoming disillusioned with the direction of national politics, ambitious young local officials like Oleksandr Tretyak currently have an opportunity to make a name for themselves far away from the toxic political climate of Kyiv. If he is able to maintain the pace of his first 100 days, Rivne’s new mayor could be one to watch.

Brian Mefford is the Director of Wooden Horse Strategies, LLC, a governmental-relations and strategic communications firm based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is a Senior Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Further reading

The views expressed in UkraineAlert are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council, its staff, or its supporters.

Read more from UkraineAlert

UkraineAlert is a comprehensive online publication that provides regular news and analysis on developments in Ukraine’s politics, economy, civil society, and culture.

Read More

The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link


Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say



When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”


Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.



“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.


Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.


“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt



Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

Source link

Continue Reading


Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics



(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

Source link

Continue Reading