Razom is a non-profit organization established to support the people of Ukraine in their continued quest for democracy, justice, and human rights. Representatives of Razom gladly answered our qestions.
Tell us about the main achievements of 2015. Definitely it was very active year - you’ve realized so many projects in human rights sector, promotion of Ukrainian culture, IT events in the US?
We have had a very active year! In 2015, Razom hosted three IT events in New York City to promote the Ukrainian high tech industry as well as many cultural events across the US, including concerts, exhibits, festivals, rallies, and commemorations. In the human rights sector, we delivered six shipping containers of humanitarian and medical supplies to Ukraine with a total value of $2 million and sent individualized parcels to Ukrainian families in particular need. This year, we launched our OKO media monitoring project that seeks to promote the image of Ukraine in foreign media, analyzing 200 thousand media sources and releasing daily and weekly reports in seven languages.
Perhaps our most important achievements are our legal report on the human rights situation in Crimea and our #RazomOdessa initiative. Our legal report on the deteriorating human rights conditions in Crimea has been presented in the United Nations, at the Helsinki Commission, Brussels University, the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and the Crisis Media Center in Kyiv. #RazomOdessa began when two Razom board members moved to Odessa to work on reforms directly in Ukraine. Their achievements include establishing an online help center for Odessa citizens, a website for the Odessa package of reforms, and online platform for social services, open budget projects, and more.
How would you evaluate the general attitude to Ukrainian problem by Americans now (Crimea annexation, war in the East part) and the mass media coverage, is it objective?
Unfortunately, media coverage is very low compared with 2013 and 2014. Consequently, general interest is not high among average Americans.
According to you what are the changes made by the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian society over the last year? Any developments?
We have seen some very encouraging developments this year. The various anticorruption initiatives, police reform, development of civil society organizations, and new faces in Ukrainian government such as Natalie Jaresko, Mikheil Saakashvili, David Sakvarelidze, and others are all positive developments. We are also very enthusiastic about the new open data projects and rapid development of e-government services aimed at increasing transparency, accountability, and accessibility to state data.
Though this is a complex question, what is the core thing comparing to the US way of life, life perception, mentality, is missed in Ukraine/Ukrainians that doesn’t allow them to move forward, let’s be honest, for around 20 years (on a national scale). We all know that the society is active, has ambitious civic position, but what’s the reason (lack of experience, lack of institutional and law immunity, lack of business culture etc.)?
From our perspective, Ukraine lacks a business culture of professional standards and professionalism that is common practice in American business practices. Additionally, the Ukrainian private sector does not cooperate with activists and other civic organizations like American businesses do. More generally, we also see a lack of willingness to take responsibility as compared to American society as well as too much strategizing and too little implementation.
Sure the organization has lots of plans for coming 2016, what are they?
Razom plans to continue working to build civil society in Ukraine via our RazomOdessa, RazomIT, RazomCulture initiatives, as well as supporting Ukraine via RazomAid projects.
How the organization is planning to celebrate New Year? And in general, how the holidays are celebrated? Are there any joint US-Ukrainian traditions, places to gather?
Razom is holding a Christmas celebration which includes a Bria Blessing and a Shokolad concert. Almost every Ukrainian organization in the US holds some kind of Christmas celebration, and New York festivities bring together both Ukrainian and American cultures.
What would you wish to Ukrainians for the New Year?
We'd wish for Ukrainians to become more united, cooperative, and productive in order to achieve all the goals that democratic society sets and bring more responsible and professional leaders to the stage.