Editor’s note: This interview was recorded on Monday, March 7, 2022. It provides vital context for understanding Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but does not reflect the latest developments on the ground.
In this week’s episode of Art of Power, host Aarti Shahani sits down with the woman who helped build Ukraine’s fledgling democracy.
Daria Kaleniuk is the executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center. She has spent a decade building sweeping anti-corruption infrastructure, much to Russia’s chagrin. As Vladimir Putin invades her home, you may have seen her calling out U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a recent press conference that went viral.
Western powers must enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to stop an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, Daria Kaleniuk, a Ukrainian activist from the NGO Anti-Corruption Action Centre, said in an impassioned plea to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson https://t.co/xtTO1CboHr pic.twitter.com/3D3xCwdqjt— Reuters (@Reuters) March 1, 2022
In our conversation, Kaleniuk questions the value of her life’s work: “We are being executed by Russia for fighting corruption and building rule of law,” she tells Shahani. “Those allies which helped us…are betraying us. They are not providing means to protect our democracy.”
To understand the war in Ukraine, you need to understand her story: where she grew up, the uprising that shaped her, and the threat that she poses to Vladimir Putin. We discuss her early childhood in the post–Soviet state (1:43), her protest work during the Maidan Revolution (7:00), Putin’s recent speech that cited the organizations she helped create as a pretext for his invasion (27:37), and her call to action for Western governments (32:02).
“NATO is afraid to provoke Russia,” she says, “And I am sick of listening to this argument.”