Hart serves Ukraine and Moldova primarily but has partnerships in surrounding Eastern European countries and Central Asia.
Overview of Eastern Europe
Since achieving their independence in 1991, the transition from communism to a free market system has been extremely difficult and painfully slow for millions of Eastern Europeans, especially in Ukraine and Moldova.
State bureaucrats and oligarchs teamed up with corrupt politicians throughout 30 years of independence to perpetuate a graft-ridden, Soviet-style system devoid of free and fair elections, the rule of law, property rights, and economic freedom. This has kept millions of Ukrainians & Moldovans impoverished and prompted millions to flee to other countries for a better life.
Citizens have not experienced order, stability, or decent economic development like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Baltic countries. Poverty, corruption, and hopelessness dominate everyday life.
More recently, the popular 2014 Ukrainian civil uprising known as Euromaidan (the “Revolution of Dignity”) resulted in ousting of Ukraine’s corrupt president. It led to an armed conflict with Russia, leaving more than 14,000 people dead and 1.8 million persons displaced.
Five years after the Euromaidan uprising—intended to finally free Ukrainians of the corruption gripping the country—Ukrainians instead found themselves ruled by a government that made little progress in improving the average citizen’s life.
However, 2019 brought some positive changes. Ukraine voted in a new President (Volodymyr Zelensky), and a Parliament dedicated to ending the corruption which has plagued Ukraine since its independence. Most Ukrainians were cautiously optimistic change would finally occur in their beloved country.
Reforms began slowly, and with the government and country increasingly looking toward the West and even embracing the idea of joining Nato, the Russian bear awoke. On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, expecting that Ukrainians would acquiesce quickly and quietly. Instead, the country fought back with much support from the West. More than 7 million people fled to European countries, and 11 million have been displaced from their homes since the conflict began.
After almost a year of this brutal war, the fact that Ukraine has been able to defend itself against what was considered the second most powerful military in the world has surprised and inspired people worldwide.