Reforming Ukraine After the Revolutions

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Media Outlet: the New Yorker

Joshua Yaffa wrote an article for the New Yorker on the promise, hope, and frustration of Maidan, and post-revolutionary Ukraine's incomplete process of reform, told from the perspective of two journalists-turned-politicians:

When Sergii Leshchenko was at university, in Ukraine, he dreamed of working in television news. He is the son of two Soviet-trained engineers, and grew up in Kiev, where he studied journalism. He aspired to become an on-air correspondent, but his speech was mumbly and imprecise. After an unsuccessful summer internship at a local news channel, in 2000, he heard that a new online publication, Ukrayinska Pravda, was desperately looking for reporters; in recent weeks, nearly all the staff had quit, fed up with low pay and worn down by pressure from authorities. His interview took place in a cramped and sparsely furnished three-room apartment, where he was met by the site’s founder and editor-in-chief, Georgiy Gongadze, a thirty-one-year-old reporter. Gongadze regularly received threats from Ukrainian officials because of his muckraking investigations. The power was out in the apartment, so Leshchenko and Gongadze sat in darkness. After a few minutes, Gongadze told him that he could start right away.
Two weeks after Leshchenko began work, Gongadze disappeared. “I thought maybe he wandered off somewhere, went on a bender,” Leshchenko recalled recently. “He could have met a girl, gone to L’viv, or maybe Georgia.” Two months later, Gongadze’s body was found in a forest outside Kiev. He had been decapitated, his body doused in chemicals and burned. Leshchenko had never expected journalism to be a deadly profession, but now that it was it didn’t seem right to do anything else. “There was no going back,” he said.

Author:

Joshua Yaffa is a New America fellow, reporting and writing on how Putin has sought to redefine the pillars of his rule and legitimacy, and what this new age of Putinism means for everyday Russians and Western governments.