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2023 Anne and Sandy Dolowitz Lecture in Human Rights

"A War on Civil Society: Making Sense of Putin's Attack on Ukraine"

Thursday, March 23, 2023
12:30-2:30 PM
Okazaki Meeting Room in the Goodwill Humanitarian Building of the College of Social Work

Speaker: Serhy Yekelchyk

The Russo-UkrainianWar is often seen as grounded in history, in different interpretations of the
two countries’ shared past. President Putin’s refusal to see Ukrainians as an ethnic group
separate from the Russians is also cited as the source of the conflict. This talk will advance an
alternative explanation of the antagonism, one that isbased on the opposite trajectories of
Russian and Ukrainian societies since the collapseof the SovietUnion. As Ukrainian civil
society grew stronger in the political battles of the 2000sthat culminatedin two democratic
revolutions, Putin’s regime in Russia was suppressing freedom of speech andthepolitical
opposition. The all-out invasion of Ukrainein 2022 was meant to eliminate the political and
social modelthatthe Russian dictator considered threatening;  itwas an extension of his war on
Russia’s own civil society.Explanationslegitimizing Putin’s rhetoric about the alleged NATO
threat to Russiamissacrucial point: It is not the Western militarythat he fears but
democratic strivings at home and in Ukraine, which heviewsas a dangerous exampleforhis own

Join us for a discussion of these issues and a reception with food following the event.



Last Updated: 2/28/23