1. Evaluation of reform policies of the Parliament and Government during the period of September 2019 – August 2020 and its compliance with the Toronto Principles (based on the analysis of the Government Program, the plans of the ministries and the adopted/rejected regulatory acts)
The Toronto Principles identify the implementation of cultural and national memory policy as one of the key priorities for 2019-2023. In particular, the following tasks were set: to develop a policy in the field of symbols and commemoration aimed at consolidating the Ukrainian political nation, forming public immunity against human rights violations, including by banning propaganda of totalitarian regimes, preserving memorials, restoring the rights of victims of repressions and ensuring access to the archives.
The current program of activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter - CMU), submitted by the Government of Oleksiy Honcharuk, with some exceptions, largely ignores the policy issues in the field of culture and national memory.
The work with the culture of memory is briefly mentioned in the specifications of the goal 4.2. "People have a choice and the opportunity to consume affordable cultural services", which applies to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine. In this context, the politics of memory comes down to completing the construction of two memorial museums, the Museum of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and the Holodomor Museum. To broaden the space for public dialogue, the plans also include building the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The program of activities of the new Government headed by Denis Shmygal was proposed for consideration in early June 2020, but was not supported by the Parliament. The document gives more attention to the politics and culture of memory, but the authors provide only some general formulations.
For example, in section 15.2. "Cultural heritage, cultural values and national memory" one of the priorities is determined as "preservation of the national memory of the Ukrainian people." It is not disclosed what exactly is meant by that and how exactly the Government plans to preserve this memory. The updated program also pays due attention to the completion of the Holodomor and the Heavenly Hundred Heroes Memorials. In addition, the construction of the National Military Memorial Cemetery and the creation of a Memorial in Remembrance of the Fallen Defenders is planned (Section 11.2).
The Government Report for 2019 and its future plans also deserves attention. The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine announced "development and launch of a "cultural barometer "- periodic surveys of the Ukrainian identity, [...] attitude to national / historical memory, sense of civic duty, belonging to a specific place, pride for one’s locality". Unblocking and continuing the construction of the memorial complex of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and the second phase of the Holodomor Museum are also among the set goals.
In addition, the plans envisioned the creation of a "concept of integrated development of Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre with expansion of the National Historical Memorial Preserve Babyn Yar and the Museum of Totalitarian Regimes." It is not clear what kind of institution is meant by the "Museum of Totalitarian Regimes". Perhaps it refers to the already announced Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR?
Drafting of a law on indigenous peoples and national minorities is also on the agenda.
Important goals are set in the section on the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, which deals with the Ukrainian-Polish relations, in particular in terms of protection of memorial sites in Ukraine and Poland and "reconstruction of the destroyed Ukrainian monuments in Poland."
In general, issues referring to the policy and culture of memory are rarely mentioned in the governmental documents, with the exception of a few important memorial institutions.
Complete disregard for issues such as access to the archives of the Soviet secret services is fundamental to both programs, the current one developed by the previous CMU and the one proposed by the current government.
The Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR, which was announced in Kyiv in 2017, is not mentioned. Although this site should become a primary platform for talking about the past.
The processes of rehabilitation of victims of repressions of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917–1991, creation of the National Pantheon of Heroes and development of a framework document that would enable institutional independence of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, etc., also were left without any attention.
On the positive side, the Government recognized and included in the plans the work on the concept of the state project on the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (although in 2019 a group of scientists has already proposed an updated concept), and promised to unblock the construction of the second phase of Holodomor and the Heavenly Hundred Heroes Memorials. The Government's plans also pay substantial attention to the development of legislation on ensuring and preserving the rights and cultures of national minorities. This will continue the trend towards an inclusive approach to public policy of memory and strengthen support for local memory narratives.