Keep the Spirit of the Maidan Alive

Ukraine is something of a miracle. A group of unarmed citizens rose up and overwhelmed a police force with orders to shoot to kill them. We are witnessing the birth of a new nation, a new Ukraine—with a limitless future made possible by people willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.

In order for Ukrainians to realize that future, the spirit of the Maidan must be preserved. They will need international support. It won’t be easy. Europe can only provide so much help, since the EU itself is in crisis. Russia looms, with its dominant military might, and neither Europe nor the U.S. has shown any appetite for armed conflict in this part of the world. Putin believes in displays of force; he flexes his muscle, and expects people to fall in line. He will do what he can to thwart progress, to keep the country mired in its corrupt past.

But that doesn’t mean Russia can defeat the new Ukraine. I think people are willing to endure what hardships Putin deals out in order to build a better future here. And my foundation is working with experts in Ukraine to create a strategy for keeping the spirit of the Maidan alive.

We can help support free and fair elections in May, and encourage parliament to pass laws giving candidates equal time on television to make their case to the country. The people of Ukraine should choose their own representative. And they must seize the moment to reform the judiciary. This is vitally important, and you can’t do it piecemeal.

Ukrainians need the rule of law, with judges paid a proper salary to help prevent them from taking bribes. The EU has billions at its disposal; just a fraction of that could make a huge difference in cleaning up the court system. And that would have a huge ripple effect, making it so much easier to attract investment and put the country on the path to economic prosperity.

This will not happen overnight. We have been involved in judicial reform movements for more than 25 years, and it is hard work. What’s more, a lot of expenditures will have to be cut to bring the budget under control; as everybody knows, the Yanukovych family raided the treasury, leaving the country’s finances a mess.

But there is a unique opportunity here. Ukrainians have already seen one revolution fail, and they will need to pull together to help this one succeed. It is a long road, and a learning process. But focusing on these goals will put Ukraine on the right track—and honor the solidarity, the courage, and the dignity of the Maidan.

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Ukraine deserves our solidarity especially facing Putin forces. We want to forget the Ukrainians as a reflex to resent military conflict but we need to keep the image of their fight for self determination alive. We must stand with Ukraine on this.

Parliament has begun court reforms. Bravo. Of course much more needs to be done. At this time I would also like to see a strong response to Russian propaganda dominating the world's media. Russian disinformation is causing almost as much harm as its military threats. Civil society would greatly benefit from an articulate, intelligent press and PR response. Thank you, Mr. Soros for seeing the positive possibilities of Ukraine and for helping Ukraine achieve its potential.

Ukrainians need our support and we all hope that Mr Soros will help them to defeat Russian terror. Russian imperialism is an echo of the past, we cannot afford to have a former KGB agent threatening peace and democracy in Eastern Europe. On March 23 episode of BBC One's one of Putin's loyalists casually mentioned to Senator John McCain to "watch over Alaska, because it used to be Russian." Well, it used to be Russian back in 1800, we are in 2014! Russia cannot just roll over Ukraine, Poland and the rest of Europe in the hunger hunt for the next victim.

There is an urgency here yet the focus on the rule of law is absolutely right; will take persistence.

Excellent commentary on the Ukraine.

I agree Europe is in crisis. But is this an excuse for not taking a more active part in this situation? We all are responsible for the Ukrainian's future. We are responsible for the actions taken and we we are responsible for the actions omitted.

who will 'come' to Ukraine? who will take 'advantages' from the situation in Ukraine? ................the people? the 'so called' businessmen? the (greedy) politician? the opportunist? the collaborators?


This is a typical political blame game in process. The EU and the USA primarily are responsible for inflaming this situation because the democratically elected government of Ukraine chose NOT to accept EU's "deeper political integration". It all started soon after that and even Dr Kissinger stated tso in the Washington Post. It is sad that people lose their lives in the name political control, oil and gas.

Good evening, Mr. Soros! Many thanks for your support of Ukraine at this time, it is very necessary to us! I believe that we will succeed! Only came with the working group on health care reform, and I can say that we are on the threshold of a very necessary and important changes and hope for your support! I am the Director of Charitable Fund "Help for the future", will soon be here I want to submit the project to your Fund.

Ukraine needs every assistance it can get to fend off further Russian intrusion. It will be vital to establish an efficient, corruption free government and judiciary after the elections in May. The help of the Open Society foundation should be highly welcome in this difficult situation.

We support every bit of effort on regaining their democracy
and may the counselors to be brave enough to speak for the society and future of their country

Thank you Mr Soros for writing this article. It is an incredibly important time for Ukraine but also a test for Western democracies! It is a test for Russia as well. Ukrainian internal struggle has challenged Putin's cherishing of up until recently silent domination of Ukraine, brought it to the fore, made it obvious for the rest of the world. So far the response has not been very firm, but there is still time for EU and US to influence the situation by supporting Ukraine's efforts to build a new kind of society.

Of course Ukraine will need to stand for itself and do its own work--it cannot entirely rely on the West. The work of Open Society Foundation in Ukraine is of the center pillars of the emerging civil society and is doing a lot of good for the country.

In addition to reforming the court system and paying judging a fair wage, it is important to consider the nature of leadership in Ukraine. Both political leadership and leadership outside politics, particularly in the public sector and particular in higher education. The latter I believe is one of the vehicles of the civic society and as such needs to take on a leading role in promoting democracy in new Ukraine. Leaders themselves, however, are in need of professional development and support if we are to break the cycle of oppressive and nontransparent governance.


History is repeating itself, in Ukraine. Putin is using the Russian mob to create unrest, & uprising, in Ukraine. All that is happening in Ukraine rest in Gazprom. Billions are being stolen from the Russian people, and deposited in EU banks. It's a tragedy, and unforgiveable! EU's reluctance to act aggressively about Ukraine crisis with Putin follows the unwillingness to "tip over the apple cart" (Russian money deposited in EU banks). If the EU permits Putin to succede in Ukraine, there will be worst problems for the EU, in the future. In fact, it will have global significance! Nuclear countries must act reasonably!

Pause for a moment and think how much of what one hears is true or propaganda. The new Ukraine is fast going into the pockets of the oligarchs.
The present Western-backed interim government has gone to great lengths to give the oligarchs even greater power – far more than to the Svoboda Party or followers of Stepan Bandera in Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party. In one of their first acts in office, they appointed oligarchs like Ihor Kolomoisky and Serhiy Taruta as governors in Eastern Ukraine, and are already working closely with the country’s likely new president, Petro Poroshenko.

Many in the West welcome “the Chocolate King’s” presence, especially since he was the highest-profile oligarch to support the Euromaidan protest. Western advisers have looked kindly on him for years just after Yanukovych appointed Poroshenko Minister of Trade and Economic Development.

With Putin threatening to withdraw the $5 bln gas subsidy Ukraine will require more than $30 bln subsidy. Amd you can bet that a lot of it will go into the coffers of the oligarchs, who have friends in all the right places in all the Governments of the West.

It is thus not surprising that the Western Governments though supporting the New Ukraine will not put their monies where their mouths are.

If we do not stop Putin, he'll go on.
We Ukrainians ask for help, do not think about money, we need your support and assistance.
We are a young country, which threw off the corruption, but we need time to restore justice law in all spheres of life.

putin is a power-hungry and money-hungry personality. His intention is to conquer all EU and move further than that. I hope his international military aggression crimes will not stay unpunished. Financial isolation is his fear, but he is ready to bribe and pay a lot of money to get what he wants. Bin Laden or North Korea leaders were much less ambitious than this Russian monster. I hope Europe and civilized world will respond to this military aggression against all of us. The borders of EU are already penetrated with putin's Russian people coming to Slovakia through underground tunnel, so they don't need visas any longer. Maybe tomorrow people of Iceland and Denmark will be thrown out of their houses by putin's military groups.

Eleanor, please go back and read your own post. You can't be serious. I actually laughed out loud when i read that Putin wanted to conquer entire EU and that Russians were going to Slovakia through tunnels.... :)
I've been to Slovakia... Trust me, Russians do not want to go there, even if you pay them :)))
And can you say "French Republic of Russian Federation"? Will it be their sixth republic? Can't remember. hehehe
Thank You, Eleanor. You have given me much needed comedic relief. :)

The current public servants and govern should act with maximum responsibility, honesty and integrity, putting the interests of the country above all and everything because this is the only purpose a public servant has - to serve his people and country. Following personal interest will disappoint Ukrainians and chances for mega positive change will fade away.

@ Andreas C C,
When "democratically elected governments" do to the electorate what Yanukovych has done in Ukraine, the electorate has both cause and "rights" for their removal. We can now hope that this article's well-expressed optimism will be fulfilled before too long.

Ukraine needs this support and the Open Society Foundation has to be thanked for its work. Unfortunately Europe and, above all, the other European Foundations are doing very little. As a program officer of an italian bank foundation, I encourage OSF to involve other partners into the democratization process and in the strenghtening of the rule of law in Ukraine. OSF could have a coordination role of managing common efforts and sharing future goals. We are ready.

My personal comment only.

Within many countries there are divisions on ethnicity, cultural and race that have led to internal conflict. Colonial rulers drawing arbitary lines on maps and dividing populations. The Sykes Picot division of the middle east is the best known example. Potential internal conflict then simmers and results too often in strive.

The list is long. Balkans, Syria, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Libya and Ruanda are but a few.

However such divisions have existed in the north of Ireland where the division runs on a sense of a national Irish or British sense of idenity. It is more commonly recognisable as a religious divide.

George Soros is correct that the Rule of Law (provided that they are just laws) and a proper independent judiary are key in nation building where every citizen's potential can be developed and realised without fear or favour.

For those of Russian ethnicity, who generally populate the east of the country, what is it that they fear in a Ukraine being more engaged with Europe? Why is that they turn to Russia for protection?

Without this fear or sense of exclusion then it is much harder to create and inflame internal conflict and create dissaffection.

As a minority, do the etnic Russia citizens of Ukraine believe that they will become second class citizens within a new Ukraine?

Over lay this situation with the fact that a key plank of Russian strategy is the protection of Russian citizens in the "near abroad".

I think that the events in Maidan square caught European, and US diplomats, as well as Russia by surprise by the speed with which the situation desended into extreme violence.

Just when cool diplomatic heads were required hot heads were giving orders in Ukraine.

George is also right that the economic squeeze can be put on a new Ukraine by Russian, will demand support from western governments. This would be a long term commitment.

However, talking and engaging with Russia is vital for the future of not only Ukraine but European countries that formally were securely within the Soviet sphere of influence. Such as Moldovia and the Baltic states that have significant Russian populations.

The dependence on Russia for much of European energy supply is of key importance. Russia needs to sell and Europe needs to buy it.

This interdependency may have made some European countries more cautious of becoming involved in Ukraine. It should however, be used as 'door' to engage Russia in order to better understand their concerns.

If there is an example of what must be done and the commitment that is required then the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement is the perhaps the model to follow.

Especially as this week the historic state visit of an Irish President is taking place in London for the first time.
It illustrates what can be achieved through dialogue and shared interests and values.

That is the vision, but also an enormous commitment by both Europe and the US. Ukraine deparately needs a stable and legitimate government and it needs help and time in creating it.

It is not an easy path to travel. Are western goverments up for it?

Raiding parties sent from Russia to Ukraine, to disrupt the presidential elections and democratic reforms. Their finances Yanukovych, who brought Ukrainian Finance in Russia.

I completely agree with George's basic assumption of the rule of law in Ukraine and especially with the comment of Charles above, especially because he wonders about the causes of fear of the Russian minority. Dialogue about mutual motives may be crucial in preventing a second cold war. The ideal situation would be, even when it's a far cry from present reality, that EU and Russia would cooperate to help Ukraine out. One of the things is more autonomy for regions and recognation of Russian as a second language in Ukrainian regions with a significant Russian minority (if Ukraine ever wants to become an EU member they 'll have to do that anyways). It's true that Putin did the reverse in Russian federation in the past 10 or 15 years, but using that as an argument against it results in cold war retorics. The fact that after 1990 the former Soviet Union lost a lot of its territory and NATO came closer is neglected then. The Ukrainians have to pay more for their Russian oil & gas right now, but perhaps it's an idea to use this momentum to invest in improving the central heating system in Ukrainian appartement buildings to regular EU standards. This will save a tremendous lot of energy (and money on the long run). On the long term Russian federation might benefit from such an investment as well.

Ukraine demands our full support (for all that believe in democracy and freedom as the way for a more open, inclusive, better society). But the risks and challenges are higher than words can describe! Mind needs concepts and comparing to give meaning to situations but Ukraine is a too unique situation: a) It's European but it doesn't go along xix and xx century and a Nation and / or State, (as other post-societic EU countries). The Nationalist engagement comes mainly now, on the xxi century; b) Being on the periphery of Russian State it got lot's of the worst from the bureaucratic, amoral, corrupt societal system; c) After independence became a society controlled by 'gangs'; d) A nation of more than forty million people that gets to the xxi century with almost no experience of democratic and civic intervention, a State based on law, enough spread capabilities to wonder about ethics and moral ruling administration and political life; e) an industrial and service sector that, for the most, reproduces itself with the majority of population (as in Russia) that live out of the wealth a few have access.

"A group of unarmed citizens rose up and overwhelmed a police force with orders to shoot to kill them" - sorry, but protesters were anything but unarmed. Look at only a part of protest forces, "Maidan self-defense". New government has demanded they surrender and give up their firearms, the move they did not comply with.

I think the base of real democracy is the independent people. He or She has time and (financial) power to make decisions, to select the best way of life, to try things without unrecoverable consequences. Here in post-communist countries (even in EU), even after 25 years there are mass of people without cash, without properties (because of this) without the ability to make decisions, to donate local civil groups driven and abused by money-maker companies like slaves. Not the wages are the problem, but the higher prices than wages is the problem. No one can make democracy with mass of slaves! So! Keep an I of the base of your democracy (middle or low class peoples) along your revolutionary way!

One aspect of our support that is disturbing is the reliance on the IMF, without any talk of "haircuts" for people who lent Ukraine money. Some of that money was used to weaken and subvert Ukraine or oppress its people. That money should be written off as "odious debt". Some percentage of the rest should be considered part of a haircut, as happened in Cyprus.

Otherwise, Ukraine will not have enough money to protect its poor, its elders and the people who get displaced when the trade barriers between Ukraine and Europe fall. The people who have the most to fear from industrial displacement live in the industrial East -- in places like Donetsk, Kharhiv and Luhansk that are seeing the worst of the unrest. The thrill of revolution will fade quickly if people are hungry, unemployed and cold.

I'm Ukrainian.
Typical lies in the USA about Ukraine.

U.S. helped the right-wing (center and ultrarights) come to power.

McCain And Victoria Nulland shakes hands with nazi Oleg Tyanibok.

The protests were not peaceful.
George Soros want save this spirit.)

Now in Ukrainian parliament nazis. (In Europe as evidenced for example Gregor Gysi.)

Eastern Ukraine suffered the most from the Nazis during the Second World War.I And now they are rebelling. Not recognizing the new goverment.

Rossia wants to help, but it difficult. Managed to escape only Krimea. Becouse that historically in this region was their autonomy and has own parliament.

Sorry for my english. Hard look at a total lie quietly.

We all dream, when the U.S. is engaged in domestic politics, rather than foreign policy.

Excellent work Mr. Soros! I am from Canada and have been following Maidan from the beginning days. How thrilling for me a Ukrainian Canadian to see Yanukovych gone.

Now when I see the news about Russia moving into Eastern Ukraine I am fearful. At the first hint of Russians in Crimea I was certain they would take over.

I drives me crazy to hear the propaganda from the Kremlin and the outrageous lies. Putin and pals are laughing!!

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE refute the propaganda just as much as Russia pushes it.

Ukraine needs to be tight together.

Also, if Ukraine does not take strong action against Russia, the supporting countries would not have a reason to get involved militarily. The parliament should not make threats if they don't intend to follow thru. Makes Ukraines Ukraine look weak.

It appears Ukrainian people are tired of all the protesting for such a long time. It would be great if they were rallied and continued to show strong support for the new government.

God Bless the Hevenly Hundred and all those devoted to the cause!!

Putin comes in the age-old uniform of Russian imperialism and its concept of "spheres of influence". The break-up of Russia-Soviet-Empire caused huge loss in their sphere. Putin understands only that russo-centric concept, all else is subordinate. Like Hitler, he will use pretexts - safety of Russian-speaking people etc - to acquire or dominate territory. Parallel Hitler and Sudetan Czech lands, 1938. Georgia now Ukraine. Soviet Imperial Russia 'gave' Crimea to Ukraine, now Putin takes it back, at will.

What response by the West, more specifically US, UK and France who gave Ukraine, along with Russia, guarantee of territorial integrity. That does not end with mere words, hand-wringing and sanctions, it must have a military dimension. That can be achieved simply by offering the Ukraine government 'joint exercises' - NOW. Will Putin move further if he senses some backbone.

Damage to the UN - this and Syria demonstrates the total undermining of the UN, not only by Russia but the other permanent members. Syria, now Ukraine, sacrificed, and the world looks on. It is the death knell of what little is left of collective security. A Security Council stripped of any real authority because of the betrayal of the UN by the "Big Five". No chance of reform. But, the UN can have a role if some of its members invoke Uniting for Peace and act to impose peace-making and pacific settlement regardless of the consent of the B5. The ICJ has ruled UfP legitimate, I hope Mr Soros may use his considerable resources to lobby key nations who may listen as they view these situations with mounting horror. To do so will transform an emasculated UN into a machinery that can work despite the opposition of the B5. Mr Putin, Obama, Hollande and the rest can whistle, time to make our UN able to do what it was established to do. Two key things being stopping of conflict and of aggression.

If people in the Crimea do wish to become part of Russia it has to be by a recognised independently-monitored plebiscite. That process also has to take account of the minorities in Crimea including Ukrainians and Tartars who boycotted the put-up referendum so hastily called by a breakaway regional assembly without national authority. The world has to engage .... the alternative is wholly unacceptable and dangerous.

Ukraine perhaps needs to be split into two nations.
Eastern Ukraine aligned with Russia, Western Ukraine
with the EU. Neither Russia or the USA will gain anything by trying to be "king makers" here. It will not work, and Russia will militarily support the East if NATO/West Ukraine try to force integration. This is just another chess game between the US and Russia that will lead nowhere, except maybe to a nuclear war. A fully united Ukraine East and West is too utopian of an outcome I am afraid...

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