Victor and Maria Rudewych are among the most active and well-known patrons and donors of the Ukrainian community in Australia. They regularly support various projects aimed at the practical changes within the Ukrainian community in Australia (supporting the learning of Ukrainian language, sponsoring projects of PhD students from Ukraine, etc.) as well as global and large-scale projects aimed at acceleration of Ukrainian democratization.
A striking example is the Ukraine Democracy Initiative (UDI) – the center for the study of Ukrainian democracy at the University of Sydney. Launched in April 2016 with the support of Victor and Maria Rudewych, Ukraine Democracy Initiative unites more than 200 academics, activists, and policy-makers working together to study and lobby democratic changes in Ukraine.
All the projects conducted by Ukraine Democracy Initiative (UDI) are focused on producing research-based analysis and insights into the barriers to democratization in Ukraine at both, state administration level (the ruling elite), and the civic level (the study of values and life-term behavioral strategies of ordinary people). All the research results and insights are regularly posted on the UDI web- platform www.ukrainedemocracy.org.
The main partners of Ukraine Democracy Initiative include the WZB Berlin Social Science Research Center, University of Oxford, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukrainian Catholic University, Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University, European Forum Alpbach and the National Endowment for Democracy
The role of Ukrainian Diaspora in democratization of Ukraine in the post-Euromaidan period (2013 – present) is the center for investigation within one of the most recent UDI projects, generously supported by Victor and Maria Rudewych. The project “Reimagining the Role of Diaspora and Democracy in Ukraine ” is conducted by a group of prominent scholars and experts from University of Sydney, Oxford University, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, the University of Sydney, the University of Ottawa and others. The main product of this project is the research work (book), which for the first time in the history of Ukraine highlights the current struggle for a democratic future in the context of the crucial political, social, economic and cultural role of the Ukrainian diaspora in supporting the democratic foundations of Ukraine.
“Ukraine is now more than just a territory and state. Ukraine is global: 1/7 of Ukrainian population leaves abroad and plays active role in shaping the way of life in modern Ukraine. It is difficult to overestimate the geopolitical strategic importance of Ukraine for the future of Europe. The war in eastern Ukraine, the creation of ‘quasi states’, significant declines in living conditions and the displacement of more than two million people, have indirect impact on European security policy, US strategy, and efforts to calm the Syrian war and China’s foreign policy, as well as on the broader democratic developments in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Lastly, I can’t not mention the global importance of Ukraine in probing the democratic standards and testing what is the future of democracy like”, – states Dr. Olga Oleinikova, Director of Ukraine Democracy Initiative.
Dr Oleinikova also expressed the importance of having the actual diaspora involved in such process of inquiry: “We are extremely grateful to Victor and Maria Rudewych for their kind and generous support and their trust that helped to us to combine global efforts and expertise to help Ukraine rethink the ways to democratization and open new perspectives along with the support of the global transnational actors and Ukrainians living abroad “.
The project has drawn together the most prominent academics. The chief advisers of the project are Professor and Director of the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University – Marko Pavlyshyn; Professor and Director of Sydney Democracy Network at the University of Sydney – John Keane.
In the scope of this project the following events are planned for August 2017:
- 23-24-August – two-day research workshop for researchers and authors of the book “Re-imagining the role of diaspora and democracy in Ukraine” at WZB Berlin Center for Social Research (Berlin, Germany);
- 27 August – the first annual meeting of full and associate members of the Ukraine Democracy Initiative (UDI) at Alpbach (Alps, Austria)
- 28 August – open session “War and Democracy in Ukraine: What is the future?” in the scope of the political symposium of European Forum Alpbach.
UDI is very grateful and proud of the recent partnership with European Forum Alpbach and the National Endowment for Democracy to organize the panel “War and Democracy in Ukraine: What is The Future?” and invite the following prominent speakers: Mustafa Nayyem (Member of Parliament, Petro Poroshenko Block), Professor John Keane (University of Sydney), Professor Wolfgang Merkel (Humboldt University), Professor Ian Zielonka (University of Oxford), and Paweł Pieniążek (known journalist and author of the book about the Donbass).
Learn more about the Ukraine Democracy Initiative (UDI): www.ukrainedemocracy.org
Follow UDI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UaDemocracy/
Read UDI on Twitter: @uademocracy
Translated by Christina Gvozdkova (UDI Translator)