Ukrainian civil society outlines “red lines” President Zelenskyi can’t cross

red lines

Ruins of Ukrainian international border entry-exit checkpoint Dovzhanskyi, destroyed by artillery and rocket attacks acros the border from the Russian territory in early August 2014. Photograph: 

Civil Society, Ukraine

Edited by: Yuri Zoria

Editor’s Note

In their joint statement, representatives of Ukrainian civil society organizations have assessed the first political steps made by Volodymyr Zelenskyy as President of Ukraine and outlined the “red lines” he shouldn’t cross. Here is the full text of the statement.

Over the past five years, we, the undersigned, members of civil society organizations, have been actively defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and national interests in global information space and counteracting the Russian information war. Each of our organizations works in a specific field to strengthen civil society and help build high-quality state institutions open to ongoing communication and dialog with our citizens, responsible for reforming our country and rendering it more stable and secure in the face of strong threats and challenges.

Our principles and positions remain unchanged. Our mission is to protect the values ​​that Ukrainians fought for during the Revolution of Dignity – freedom and dignity, the independence of Ukraine and protection of Ukrainian statehood, a democratic system of government, patriotism, courage, responsibility, and honesty as the fundamental qualities of all Ukrainian citizens.

We remain politically neutral but are deeply concerned about the first executive decisions taken by the newly-elected President. Unfortunately, they demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the threats and challenges facing our country. We strongly disagree with the President’s intention to appoint members of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime to key government positions, a move that contradicts the principles of lustration, as well as persons without relevant competencies and individuals sharing business interests with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Given the pain and troubles that our country has suffered in the past few years, such short-sighted measures are bound to have adverse effects on society… and the consequences could be devastating.

As civil society activists, we present a list of “red lines not to be crossed.” Should the President cross these red lines, such actions will inevitably lead to political instability in our country and the deterioration of international relations:

Security Issues:

  • holding a referendum on the format of the negotiations to be used with the Russian Federation and on the principles for a peaceful settlement
  • conducting separate negotiations – without the participation of Ukraine’s Western partners –  with the Russian Federation, members of the occupation authorities and their armed groups and gangs in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, Crimea and Sevastopol
  • fulfilling the ultimatum requirements demanded by the aggressor state or achieving a compromise with the Kremlin at the cost of making concessions to the detriment of national interests, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and order, and independent domestic and foreign policies of Ukraine
  • inhibiting the implementation of security and defense policies outlined in the Strategic Defense Bulletin of Ukraine

Foreign Policy Issues:

  • delaying, sabotaging, or rejecting the strategic course for EU and NATO membership; reducing political dialogue and destroying bilateral institutional mechanisms for cooperation with European and Euro-Atlantic partners
  • initiating any actions that might contribute to the reduction or lifting of sanctions against the aggressor state by Ukraine’s international partners
  • attempting to review any actions aimed at supporting international solidarity for Ukraine, restoring our territorial integrity, guaranteeing security and protecting the rights of all persons that have suffered from Russian aggression

Economic Issues:


  • extending preferential treatment to oligarchs: in particular, facilitating the return of nationalized Privatbank to its former owners or ensuring “compensations” to the same owners, as well as accommodating monopoly positions of financial and industrial groups in the energy sector
  • implementing policies against existing agreements with the IMF and other foreign partners that help promote Ukraine’s macroeconomic stability
  • initiating major redistribution of wealth in the interests of specific groups
  • exerting pressure on regulators (Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine, National Commission for State Regulation in Energy and Utilities, National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council) and using them in the interests of political parties or groups, as opposed to supporting reforms in order to strengthen and increase their independence)

National IdentityLanguage, Education, Culture

  • attempting to review the language law
  • attempting to review the law on education
  • attempting to review the law on de-communization and condemnation of totalitarian crimes of the past
  • implementing any actions aimed at undermining or discrediting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine or supporting the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine

Media and Information Policy

  • using the media (in particular, TV channel 1 + 1 and oligarch-controlled TV channels) to promote the new government
  • restoring Russian social networks and Russian TV channels in Ukraine

Government Functioning

  • eliminating electronic declarations for public servants and the Prozorro public procurement system
  • launching politically motivated persecution of members of the previous government
  • rehabilitating/encouraging the return to politics of members of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime and individuals that supported the “dictatorial laws” of January 16, 2014
  • enabling the Servant of the People Party to form a coalition with politicians that were founding members of the Party of Regions and the Opposition Bloc in the new parliament and/or any other parties that promote reconciliation with Russia by way of surrender or concessions of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • ignoring dialogue with civil society
  • inhibiting key reforms: administrative, territorial, medical, educational, banking.
  • delaying or sabotaging anti-corruption and judicial reforms

Through constructive dialogue and prompt criticism of the government, we have always sought to strengthen Ukraine’s voice in the world and worked hard to gain the support of our international partners.

If the President crosses these red lines, it will indicate that he does not seek real democratic change and does not wish to establish a more honest and responsible government, even though he promised to do so during the election period.

Signatures (UPDATING):

  • Ukraine Crisis Media Center
  • Danylo Lubkivskyi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2014)
  • Institute of Mass Information
  • Center for Civic Initiatives-CEHRIN
  • Center for Economic Strategy
  • NGO Detector Media
  • NGO Internews-Ukraine
  • NGO Ukrainian Prism
  • Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI
  • Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism i8
  • Euromaidan Press
  • Steering Committee of the Ukrainian National Platform for the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
  • StopFake
  • NGO “CentreUA”
  • Valery Pekar,  entrepreneur
  • Information Portal “Stop Corruption”
  • Yevgen Stepanenko, head of the Public Theater, leading the program “War and Peace”
  • Yuriy Makarov, writer, member of the Board of Public TV Company
  • NGO “Stop Corruption”
  • Independent Media Union of Ukraine
  • Irma Vitovska, Honored Artist of Ukraine, actress of theater and cinema, activist
  • Union of Writers of Ukraine
  • Charity Foundation “Vostok-SOS”
  • Associations of Middle East Studies
  • Society of Support of Ukraine, Latvia
  • NGO “DEJURE Foundation”
  • NGO “Ukrainian Democracy”
  • NGO “Revival of the East”
  • Eugene Magda, Director of the Institute of World Politics
  • Center for Analysis and Strategies
  • NGO “Association for Democratic Development”
  • NGO “Active Citizen Position”
  • Gallery of Modern Art TriptychArt
  • NGO “Visionaries”
  • Ukrainian University, Washington, USA
  • International Foundation for Leadership, Washington, USA
  • Wires of the Ukrainian-Center Forces of Ukraine and the Diaspora
  • Kharkiv Independent Media Group “Nakipilo”
  • UNCD – Ukrainian-Norwegian Center for Democracy
  • Charity Foundation “Happy Family”
  • Myroslav Marynovich, a former political prisoner, a member of the Nestor group
  • NGO “Center for Social Activity” Result ”
  • Crimean House
  • NGO “Ukrainian World”
  • NGO UA Group
  • Michel Tereshchenko, Glukhiv City Mayor
  • East European Development Institute
  • NGO “Crisis media center” Seversky Donets ”
  • NGO “Donetsk Institute for Social Research and Political Analysis”
  • Information Rights Center “Edelweiss”
  • Volodymyr Kryzhanivskyy is Vice-President of the Association of People’s Deputies of Ukraine, a senior and plenipotentiary ambassador of Ukraine
  • NGO “Humanitarian College”
  • International Charitable Foundation “Hospital Maidan”.
  • Institute of Civil Liberties
  • Institute of World Policy
  • Charitable Foundation “Academy of Modern Art, Realism and Creative Industries”
  • NGO “Warta Law”
  • NGO “Intelligent Ukraine”
  • NGO “Initiative group” Together! ”
  • NGO “Ecological Space of Ukraine”
  • Ukrainian Catholic University
  • NGO “All-Ukrainian Patriotic Association” Volunteer Movement of Ukraine ”
  • Tatyana Vergeles, editor in chief IA ZIK
  • “Information Resistance Group” (NGO “Center for Military and Political Studies”)
  • NGO “Historical Truth”
  • Olena Tereshchenko, Association of NGOs “KYIV VICE”
  • International  volunteer community InformNapalm
  • Greencubator

If you would like to join the Appeal, please fill the form. The list of signatories is regularly updated at

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Edited by: Yuri Zoria

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