From a mirror of Kharkiv society to leading environmental movement: the case of "Green Front"

  • Oleksii Viedrov
Keywords: Green Front, environmental movements, social movements, NGOs, Ukraine, Kharkiv


This article draws on the example of the Green Front, an environmental movement in Kharkiv, to show how the actors’ attention to the peculiarities of the local political and social context and available resources can help a social movement achieve considerable success. A movement without leadership, funded only by members, and broadly inclined to use direct action, the Green Front can be seen as a clear example of civic initiatives that present a growing alternative to professionalized and donor-funded NGOs in post-socialist countries. Though the initial campaign against road construction did not achieve its goal, some further campaigns were more successful. The Green Front has engaged in many environmental issues, established numerous contacts with other environmental groups in Ukraine and abroad, and begun lobbying at the national level. Its initial success was based on such factors as the entanglement of structural tensions present in the initial conflict in Kharkiv; its being a combination of a mass-movement and social-movement organization capable of expertise; its insistence on activating local inhabitants; and its successful positioning in the Ukrainian and regional political environments.