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CAS Discussion Series: “Policies of the Rule of Law”

20 June 2018

The fifth seminar of the CAS Discussion Series "Policies of the Rule of Law" will take place on 20 June 2018 (Wednesday) at 17:00h at CAS conference hall. Dr. Mykola Riabchuk will give a talk on "Playing with the Rules. Democracy and Rule of Law in Ukraine".


Ukraine is examined as an exemplary case of a ‘feckless', dysfunctional democracy where the fragmentation of powers substitutes for their strict separation, and where informal rules and arrangements prevail over the strict and uniform application of law. Historically, Ukraine, in a sharp difference to Russia, has adopted the European idea of limitation of the absolute power of the incumbents, and developed a sort of democratic instinct that make it rather inimical to any authoritarian rule. At the same time, similarly to Russia, Ukraine has never adopted a clear notion of rule of law and never developed strong and truly independent legal institutions. The law in Ukraine remains rather ‘fluid' and its application selective, arbitrary, and manipulative. Current attempts at reform in Ukraine run against both the vested interests of the corrupt elite and largely uncivic, unlegalistic political culture of masses. The new institutions, introduced in Ukraine within the past few years under the pressure of civil society and international donors, are strongly obstructed and sabotaged, often skillfully staffed with corrupt government loyalists, and deliberately compromised via oligarchic media. Still, there is no other way to fix the dysfunctional state but to defend and develop the new institutions as a means to curb the rent-seeking elite, to influence the whole institutional setting, and to gradually change the political (and legal) culture of the society at large.

Mykola Riabchuk is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Nationalities' Studies, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and a lecturer at the University of Warsaw and Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Since 2014, he heads also the Ukrainian PEN-center. Dr. Riabchuk penned several books and many articles on civil society, state/nation building, nationalism, national identity, and postcommunist transition in Eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine. Four of his books were translated into Polish, and one into French (De la petit Russie a l'Ukraine, 2003), German (Die reale und die imaginierte Ukraine, 2005), and Hungarian (A ket Ukraina, 2015). His work was distinguished with a number of national and international awards and fellowships, including Fulbright (1994-96), Reagan-Fascell (2011), and EURIAS (2013-14).


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