President Zelensky’s first year in office was marked by a lack of mutual understanding and proper communication with civil society.
On several occasions this year, a number of civil society actors felt let down by the new President and his administration. Those occasions comprise attempts by the President and his party in the Parliament to create new far-reaching legislation, including changes to the Constitution, without prior consultations with the wider expert community and civil actors, complicating possibilities for foreign (mostly Western) aid, labelling the institutions of the civil society with pejorative nicknames such as sorosyata (Soros’ offspring) and grantozhery (grant-gobblers), reacting sluggishly to attacks against civil society activists, curtailing many reforms started after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, and, last but not least, failing to respond robustly to global challenges, including those presented by the covid-19 pandemic.
However, civil society organisations, many of which remain strong and trusted by the Ukrainian society, even in times of covid-19, concentrate on further development. Despite being affected by the pandemic-related crisis, they are striving to adjust their activities to the quarantine restrictions and remain active in pursuing their respective goals. Foreign support to civil society organisations should focus on institutional development and stimulation of grassroots public activism.