The Ukrainian village trying to get rid of the past

Externally this building in the provincial Ukrainian town of Ukrainka looks like a normal residential house of the Soviet era: gray, very functional and clearly requires caring hands. But families with children and seniors living in this building, you feel pride, says Katherine of Teguina.

A woman of about fifty is the Chairman of the Association of residents — a rare phenomenon in these parts, which causes a sense of pride for local residents. The Association received funds from the EU in order to insert the building new Windows and put a thick layer of insulating glass wool. In a country where winter frost of 25 degrees is not unusual, it is of great importance.

Now the Union felt the taste of change and wants to upgrade the area around the building to build a Playground, and to require the district to increase payments to pensioners living here.

After years of Communist rule, when everything was planned centrally, but the citizens did not dare to criticize the leadership or to make demands in a small community in Ukraine, new forms of local government.

In the South of the country in Cherkasy region a group of villagers reported that they had recently purchased a tractor. Large collective farms were disbanded after the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, and each village resident received a hectare of farmland. But since they did not have machines for processing of fields, they were forced to give their land to foreign companies under the lease.

They did not get too much from this agreement and therefore formed a cooperative. Thanks to the economic support of the UN and the EU, they bought an old tractor, terminated the lease and began to grow potatoes. Now on the dining table, they had more potatoes and the neighbouring village followed their example.

Such measures are not only crucial in order to promote economic growth of Ukrainian villages, where currently there is a lack of new jobs. They also contribute to the development of democracy in the country whose population feels a sense of despair because of armed conflict in the East in the Donbas between the government and separatists, supported by Russia.

Ukraine allocates large sums of money on the conflict in the Donbass region. It distracts attention from the need to solve numerous economic and social problems that the population faces every day. The rural areas are forced to send their sons to the Eastern front, a large number of refugees from Donbas also put pressure on the Ukrainian economy.

The Ukrainian revolution the Maidan in 2013-2014 has launched large-scale reforms. One of the most important was the reform of the merger areas, which the government in future should give 60% of the total income tax of the country.

In addition, there should be a regional development Fund. Funds from this Fund will be used to provide services and infrastructure and will be distributed at the local level. This is expected to give impetus to independent economic development, and new businesses in rural areas of Ukraine will lead to higher tax revenues.

New cooperatives play a greater role than assume power. Denmark has considerable experience, is able to help in this area. We can offer to use our experience strong and effective cooperatives movement, for example, in agriculture and construction with their important role in local development and self-government. Ukraine will definitely need to master this experience.

The Maidan revolution has shown that the population didn’t want the power belonged to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. But three years after the revolution, conducting fundamental reforms, remains far in the future.

The fusion of many small communities in large units is very slow. The government failed to undertake the necessary fundamental reforms because of the resistance of the old political elites, who feel that their special interests are under threat. Currently, they have the right to allocate limited economic resources of the country and determine the direction of financial flows.

In accordance with the reforms and the fact that the people in the new municipalities begin to take the initiative in their own hands and make demands, the distribution of funds will become more open and can be completely different.

It is expected that local media will play a more significant role and contribute to the progress, talking about new projects and the progress of reforms. This will create full transparency in the political process at the local level, which for Ukrainians is a brand new phenomenon.

The democracy that we in Denmark take for granted the condition can begin to develop in Ukraine. And local government, when it appears, will contribute to the solution of the conflict in the Donbas — if the governments of Ukraine and Russia will allow this.