The scandalous events that surrounded the opposition’s rally kept Kharkiv in the newspaper and news sites’ headlines throughout the week from April 15-21. Even so, few people dug deeper into the real factors behind those “trams” that blocked a road in the city’s center on April 12. What are the regular Kharkiv residents’ views and concerns? To take a sample of the city’s atmosphere, The Day’s editor-in-chief invited to come together on April 22 its famous residents, including poet Serhii Zhadan, Political Science Ph.D. Candidate Yulia Bidenko, head of the Maidan Monitoring Information Center NGO Natalka Zubar, ethnologist Mykhailo Krasykov, Honored Journalist of Ukraine Yevhen Maslov, chairman of the Culture condominium Ihor Oleksenko, a key author of the public national environmental policy assessment of Ukraine Oleh Perehon, as well as human rights activists, members of the regional council, academics, journalists and public figures of Kharkiv.
It was Kharkiv, despite the mayor’s boasts of having absolute support of the residents, that saw the worst confrontations between the authorities and the citizenry. These included the notorious large-scale cutting down of trees in a forest park with activists still occupying them, high-profile protests against the language law, and prolonged battles to save buildings in the historic center from demolition. Our experts and concerned citizens will analyze changes in the social life of Kharkiv, consider the most important activities of NGOs, and seek answers to burning questions of the city’s life, some of them listed below. How to make civil servants to take into account public opinion? Is it even possible to find a common language with the municipal authorities? How to preserve the identity of the historical center and support the architectural monuments’ preservation? How to draw public attention to environmental issues?
Looking back, it often seems that Kharkiv’s civic activists have lost all their battles, but in fact, far from everyone is aware of a number of successes that inspire new waves of social initiatives and public opinion expressions. The discussion’s co-host Natalka Zubar believes that the meeting’s objective is to analyze the movement’s failures and talk about its neglected victories. “We expect the discussion to result in panelists getting some new knowledge on the development of social movements and a new perspective on the city’s present and future. People are longing for an educated dialogue, they lack knowledge about other perspectives and other people’s motives. Therefore, The Day-organized exchange of views is particularly relevant for Kharkiv citizens,” she said.
The discussion “Kharkiv’s Civic Activists: Successes, Failures and Prospects” will be available as a live webcast, linked from The Day’s site.
The most interesting answers and the most sensible ideas to be proposed during the discussion will be published in The Day’s coming issues.