Letter From the Editors: May 23 - 29, 2016

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

From Prison to Privatization: A Nod to the Power of Individuals

Amid the usual news of the rich and mighty bargaining and posturing their way into the spotlight, we cannot help feeling inspired by this week’s news, which holds a few testaments to the power of "ordinary" individuals - those without the benefits of wealth, birth or political position. Leading the list is Ukrainian servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko, who was released from Russian custody May 25 to return to her home country amid great fanfare. Savchenko had dazzled the global media off and on for over a year with her tenacious resistance to a seemingly implacable Russian justice system. Velimir Razuvayev, writing in Nezavisimaya gazeta, reports a curious role played in Savchenko’s release by two other "ordinary" individuals - Marianna Voloshina and Yekaterina Kornelyuk, loved ones of the Russian journalists whom Savchenko was accused of killing in 2014. These women apparently went against the assumptions rampant in their country’s media, pleading on the Ukrainian’s behalf when she herself refused to do so. Now, predict Moscow Times reporters Ola Cichowlas and Oliver Carroll, Savchenko will become an unprecedented voice of criticism for Ukrainian President Poroshenko: "Savchenko will not be afraid to speak her mind. There will be few excuses.. . not to implement difficult reform and few reasons not to upset the oligarchic balance."

Meanwhile, we should not underestimate the power of Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, the Russian soldiers captured by the Ukrainian Army in the Donetsk Basin, who were released in exchange for Savchenko. Granted, these soldiers are "unremarkable men," as reporters Maria Zheleznova and Andrei Sinitsyn acknowledge - "But this doesn’t alter the significance of what has happened.. . [T]he soldiers’ exchange de facto means Russia acknowledges its involvement in the [eastern Ukraine] conflict." Thus, the two former servicemen may even (indirectly) lend the Ukrainian government credibility as it requests assistance from NATO to ...

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