Poland blames Ukraine for running the Open Dialog Foundation

Despite significant contributions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the promotion of democracy and protection of civil rights and freedoms, there are frequent accusations of bias against human rights funds. Suspicions often relate to financing of these organizations which are receiving funds from oligarchic structures although they have adopted their statute of independent organizations. Very often their activities are even overseen and guided by governments and special services of various countries, as a result of which human rights organizations turn into illegal lobbying forces. Such partisan NGOs pose a particular threat to European democracy as they are speaking from the rostrum of various European parliaments, OSCE and the European Parliament. Acting dishonestly and illegally, they can mislead the EU institutions, misinform about what is going on in a given country, influence internal policies of those countries and even provoke conflicts in entire regions.

Currently, the activities of the Open Dialog Foundation chaired by the Ukrainian citizen Lyudmyla Kozlovska have ignited a controversy among representatives of European political elite. Several countries criticize the Foundation for interfering in their domestic affairs. For instance, the authorities of Kazakhstan consider that the Foundation has repeatedly carried out events with the participation of Kazakh opposition, getting money from the disgraced banker, Mukhtar Ablyazov, with the aim to mount a coup. Moldova’s authorities are also dissatisfied with the Foundation’s activities as they think this organization is involved in illegal financing of local political parties. They also accuse the Foundation of collaborating with oligarchs and endangering national sovereignty and security. Recent conflict of the Open Dialog Foundation with the authorities of Poland has had grave legal consequences for Mrs. Kozlovska. Last summer, the Foundation’s representatives, especially Kozlovska’s Polish husband Bartosz Kramek, posted on social media platforms calls for political disturbances in Poland, and was agitating for protest actions against the infamous judiciary reform. In the end, in August Kozlovska was deported from the EU. And although the Foundation has viewed the Warsaw’s actions as politically motivated acts, the Polish side raised specific accusations against Lyudmyla Kozlovska. Poland considers that together with the Foundation’s failure to observe the law, political activity of the Open Dialog Foundation strangely coincided with discussion and adoption of amendments to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance criminalizing propaganda of Ukrainian nationalism and negation of crimes committed against Poles during the 1943 Volhynia massacre. The extreme displeasure of Kiev at adopting these amendments has led to attempts of Kozlovska and Kramek to destabilize the political situation in Polish cities in 2017 and in 2018 upon direct instructions of Ukrainian special services.

Such accusations against the Open Dialog Foundation force us to take a new look at the activities of the organization actively dealing with the EU and Ukraine’s neighbors. Meanwhile, there is no reaction from the Foundation to any of these accusations. As was with the claims by Moldova and Kazakhstan, the Open Dialog Foundation responded to claims of the Polish side concerning the Foundation’s activities in the interests of Ukrainian special services only by refuting them.

Undoubtedly, the Foundation’s response cannot be regarded as sufficient explanation given the scandalous situation surrounding its activity. Moreover, Kozlovska’s organization can really organize mass protests because of its practical experience gained from Kiev’s EuroMaidan revolution. Also until recently, the Foundation has had a license to trade in munitions. European structures, for their part, need to know how transparent activities of such organizations are for them as even according to reports of the Open Dialog Foundation, they prepare recommendations on ensuring compliance with democratic procedures to Poland and Moldova. Currently, the flimsy justifications given by Lyudmyla Kozlovska and her colleagues only give credence to the Foundation’s accusations in collaboration with Ukrainian special services and its subversive activity in Poland, apparently, in revenge for the Act adopted by the Sejm and directed against ideology of Ukrainian ideologists. And in the near future, with regard to the situation of providing new evidence by Poles, the Open Dialog Foundation may lose its credibility among human rights organizations, and Kiev will have to bear responsibility for its interference in internal political affairs of Poland.