Resilience and social cohesion of Ukrainian society in wartime (special issue 2)

This report was prepared by members of the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) as part of the activities of the National Platform for Resilience and Social Cohesion (National Platform). This civic initiative was launched in February 2018 (formerly known as the National Platform Dialogue on Peace and Secure Reintegration).

The National Platform’s activities are geared towards strengthening national resilience of Ukraine. This could be achieved by establishing dialogue practices in society, providing authorities with proposals for developing relevant policies, in particular those on resilience and social cohesion, as well as ensuring public awareness of these processes. The initiative has been implemented with the financial support of the European Union as part of “Building Resilience in Conflict through Dialogue” project.

The product content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the official views of the European Union.

The report is based on data from Kherson oblast.

1. Political landscape and governance. What political processes are going on in the oblast

How the authorities work. Governance in the oblasts: which areas are controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. Activities of local self-government bodies, town/village heads. Staff changes. Organisation of power in the occupied territories.

In late August–September, the executive authorities have continued to resume their work. While reporting on the first month of his work (1), the newly appointed Head of Kherson Oblast State Administration, Yaroslav Yanushevich, has listed tasks faced by the executive authorities: strengthening the power vertical, identifying the needs of Kherson residents, establishing feedback, solving urgent problems of residents of the de-occupied territories, creating a network for the support of Kherson residents throughout Ukraine, cooperating with public and international organisations.

A number of actions have been implemented in these areas, in particular:

First, a contact centre has been set up to receive complaints about the problems of the population of the oblast. In the words of Yaroslav Yanushevich, the call centre has received 1,900 complaints about the problems within a month, of which 562 are processed.

Second, a permanent survey on the needs of residents of the oblast has been launched. A register of priority needs is being created. This is especially important given the approaching winter cold. The needs include foods, medications, basic necessities, household items, and restoration of destroyed houses in the de- occupied population centres.

Third, the formation of a new team and new authorities has begun. As mentioned by the Head of Kherson Oblast State Administration, there are currently about 50 of 700 employees who worked in the structure of the executive authorities. According to him, the newly appointed Head of the Oblast Administration has recruited on a volunteer basis experienced managers with whom he worked in previous years. On 16 September, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has approved the appointment of Vadym Hulko, who previously worked for many years in Yaroslav Yanushevich’s team, as First Deputy Head of the Military Administration in Kherson oblast. On 19 September, the President of Ukraine has issued the Decree (2) on the establishment of fifteen military administrations, including one city military administration (Kherson), seven settlement military administrations (Askania Nova, Velyka Lepetykha, Verkhniy Rohachyk, Hornostaivka, Kalynivka, Myrne, and Novotroitske) and seven village military administrations (Borozenka, Velyka Kopanivka, Zelenopid , Mylivka, Nova Mykolaivka, Stanislavka, and Yuvileina). In all these communities, the occupiers completely seized power, having removed or captured community leaders and designated their gauleiters. On 21 September, heads have been appointed in seven military administrations (Kherson, Borozenka, Velyki Kopany, Verkhniy Rohachyk, Hornostaivka, Mylivka, and Nova Mykolaivka) (3). Other appointments are expected in the near term.

Fourth, contact has been established with the local self-government bodies of the de-occupied territories. This is an important step. On 5 September, the liberation of Vysokopillia village, the centre of Vysokopillia territorial community, and several other villages has been announced. The de-occupied population centres look terrible. In some villages, no surviving house has remained. Some 80% of the houses in the community centre are ruined. It is necessary to record all the damage, whereas the local self- government bodies are definitely unable to cope with the task. This causes dissatisfaction among local survivors.

Fifth, cooperation with the authorities of other oblasts has continued to be established on the creation of assistance centres for Kherson residents in places of their temporary stay. We have already written about the newly created centres in the previous report.

Sixth, cooperation with public organisations has been established. Volodymyr Zhdanov, who has experience of work in public organisations and cooperation with renowned initiatives, has been appointed as adviser on cooperation with civil society in Kherson Oblast State Administration. Specifically, he used to be the regional coordinator of “Filter court” project of Chesno Movement. On 13 September, an online meeting of the Head of Kherson Oblast State Administration with representatives of Kherson NGOs has been carried out at the initiative of the Civic Center of New Generation. Leaders of 15 NGOs participated in the action. According to the meeting participants, a constructive dialogue took place. The newly appointed Head of Kherson Oblast State Administration, Yaroslav Yanushevich, has announced his clear vision of this cooperation. The main thing, in his opinion, is that NGO representatives raise funds and focus their efforts to assist internally displaced persons, create humanitarian centres, and help evacuate the population.

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