Ukraine’s local politicians demonstrate the power of grassroots leadership

By | March 10, 2022

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region, now facing a Russian advance, posts a new video every few hours running down victories and losses—often using language out of place in a family newspaper.

Opening with his trademark greeting, ‘We are from Ukraine,’ Mr. Kim, a taekwondo-fighter-turned-real-estate-developer and politician, exudes confidence that Mykolaiv will be able to repel Russian assaults. He recently shot a video inside a captured Russian infantry vehicle.

“Optimism is indispensable. I used to be a sportsman, and I know that victory is impossible without having faith in victory,” Mr. Kim said. “If you come to a fight, you must be certain that you’ll win, otherwise, it’s best not to show up at all.”

In Russia, messaging about the war that President Vladimir Putin unleashed on Ukraine last month has been heavily censored and top-down. Information flows, in stilted official language, from the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. In Russia it is illegal to use the word “war” to describe what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In Ukraine’s boisterous democracy, however, a lot of information flows from the bottom up. Regional governors like Mr. Kim and big-city mayors heavily use social media to keep residents apprised of the latest battlefield situation in their local areas, of what roads are safe, and of the availability of basic services, medication and food.

Mr. Kim, an athletic 40-year-old born to a Korean father and a Ukrainian mother, doesn’t mince words. He celebrates good news and is open about bad news, such as Russian advances in the area last week, and the downing of Ukrainian aircraft over Mykolaiv.

“We inform honestly because we have nothing to hide,” he said. “There is no blood on our flag, we are defending our own land, and we don’t have to make anything up.” [Continue reading…]

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