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Roundtable with Lesia Vasylenko, founder of Ukrainian NGO “Legal 100”
July 27, 2015 @ 12:00 am
By Iuliia Malieieva, USUF Intern The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation hosted a roundtable with Lesia Vasylenko, a young, proactive change-driven social activist, who is also the founder of Legal100 – an NGO that provides support to Ukrainian soldiers and their families. Lesia talked about the creation of the organization and challenges her team faces daily at the Foundation on October 27th, 2015. Legal100 is working on distributing legal information to those who are in urgent need of it. Unfortunately, most of the soldiers don’t know their rights. Vasylenko says that she is worried about ATO fighters who come home and don’t know how to get legal support. Their sense of justice tells them to defend their rights as veterans. Vasylenko is concerned that, not knowing a better way to do it, they will turn to arms. She also sees it as a moral responsibility to “protect the protectors of Ukraine.” The main goals of the organization are: Distributing information – including phone consultations, educational videos on relevant legislation, and printed materials for those in the regions without access to the Internet. Building a network of veterans – bringing these people together, so that they can help each other and be better prepared to defend their civil rights. Even though, the situation in Eastern Ukraine looks less worrisome today, the number of calls Legal100 receives only grows as the soldiers come home. After only 16 months since being founded, Legal100 has 266 lawyers, 24 regional coordinators and 17 notaries working in Kyiv and other regions. There is a hotline that receives up to 40 calls per day requesting information on the social rights of the soldiers. Volunteers either provide necessary information via phone or refer the caller to one of the legal professionals registered in their database. These lawyers provide legal support pro bono. Ms. Vasylenko also noted that the ultimate goal at this point is to draft legislative proposals. She deals with many legal cases and sees multiple drawbacks in the outdated military law. Having to deal with numerous cases of the ATO soldiers, Vasylenko and her team have the first-hand knowledge of the legal gaps of the current legislation. She emphasized the need for systematic change and she is dedicated to working on legislative proposals that would better correspond to the needs of new veterans. We wish Lesia Vasylenko best of luck in her challenging work and hope for future cooperation with her. YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT LEGAL100 HERE Iuliia Malieieva is a graduate student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She is seeking a master’s degree in international economics by May 2017.