Contested Decentralization: Local Policing in Ukraine since 2014


Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:15pm


YouTube (public); Zoom (registration required)

Matthew Light, Associate Professor of Criminology and European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto
Moderated by Emily Channell-Justice, Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

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Ternopil Municipal Guards Administer Parking Fine - (c) Serhii Bahlai


Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union a tradition of extreme centralization in the organization of its police institutions, with accountability and funding flowing from the Ministry of Interior headquarters in Kyiv to police stations around the country. However, since independence, and particularly since the 2014 Euromaidan, Ukrainian municipalities have begun experimenting with new forms of local provision of public security, notably the so-called municipal guards. Local initiatives of this kind have had mixed results, arguably improving certain kinds of service to the public in some instances, while facilitating municipal officials' abuses of their authority in others. In a democratic society, who should have the right to provide public and citizen security? Should security follow the same trajectory toward decentralization as some other aspects of governance in Ukraine? Based on research in progress, the presentation examines how these debates are unfolding in Ukrainian society.

About the Speaker

Matthew LightMatthew Light studies migration control, policing and criminal justice, and public and citizen security, primarily in the post-Soviet region. His book (Routledge 2016) and several related articles on Russian federal and regional migration policies in the aftermath of the breakup of the USSR analyze what forms of freedom of movement emerged in the new post-Soviet Russian state, and frames the Soviet and post-Soviet experience with migration management in comparative international perspective. Light’s recent work concerns policing and other aspects of public and citizen security in several post-Soviet countries, including Russia, Georgia, and Armenia, and examines the evolution of both public policing institutions and private provision of security in the region. 

Emily Channell-Justice is the director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute.

Watch on YouTube


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