Civil Society Forum ‘Solidarity, Self-Organization, Self-Defense’ held in Kyiv

The forum participants discussed strategies for protecting rights in the current situation in Ukraine

On February 8 Kyiv hosted the Civil Society Forum “Solidarity, Self-Organization, Self-Defense”, organized by the International Renaissance Foundation.

Participants included: Myroslav Marynovych, Vice Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University; Iryna Bekeshkina, Director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation; Viktoria Syumar, journalist and public activist; Oleksandr Sushko, Research Director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation; Ihor Koliushko, Chairman of the Board of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms; Viktor Taran, Director of the Center for Political Studies and Analysis; Maksym Latsyba, expert at the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research; Natalya Zubar, Chairman of the Board of “Maidan Monitoring”; Serhiy Hrishyn, journalist at “Hromadske TV”; Yevhen Bystrytsky, Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation; and others. More than 180 activists from Kyiv and the regions attended.

The forum participants discussed strategies for protecting rights (legal, medical, informational, civil, etc.) in the current situation in Ukraine.

They had an opportunity to learn about interesting citizen self-organization initiatives. Roman Zinchenko spoke about the “People’s Hospital”, a successful community that came together up to help the medical volunteers on EuroMaidan. In just a few days they organized a fully operational medical point with all the necessary equipment. The organizers owe their success to the personal trust and reputation of the project participants, targeted and specific calls to action, continuous communication, numerous sources of financing, decentralization and reporting.

The section on citizen journalism was very popular. Kateryna Venzhyk, editor of, spoke about the volunteer project “Dilo Maidanu” that was printed and distributed by volunteers in December 2013 with the aim to provide protesters with the latest news.

At the final plenary session, Maksym Latsyba, expert at the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, spoke about what activists on the local level are doing. He believes local communities should adopt new regulations on public hearings, community meetings and local initiatives, and new provisions by local councils on access to public information. This will help strengthen these forms of direct democracy and control over the government, which right now is occurring spontaneously on the local level.

Participants of the session “Online Information Security and Reality” discussed ways to protect information and users. Natalya Zubar (Maidan Monitoring) stressed the importance of checking facts before distributing any information over the Internet.

Information security expert Dmytro Snopchenko (Yug company) gave tips on how to protect data on personal computers and prevent social network accounts from being hacked.

As part of the forum, the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation organized a master class on “Legal Defense for Civic Activists” moderated by Mykola Sioma, the Foundation’s Executive Director. Lawyer Yevhenia Zakrevska stressed that despite frequent neglect by the state prosecution of a lawyer’s procedural documents, the defense must do its work correctly and professionally as allowed by the Criminal Procedure Code. Lawyer Ihor Svyetlichny, who works in the state system of guaranteed legal aid, noted that legal aid lawyers use the guidelines developed by the Foundation, which helps them adhere to the standards adopted by the Council of Lawyers in December 2013.

International Renaissance Foundation
Stanislav Lyachynsky
(+380 44) 486 24 74


Main objective of the International Renaissance Foundation is to provide financial and operational assistance to the development of an open and democratic society in Ukraine by supporting key civic initiatives in this area.

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