Dr. Iryna Solonenko

Associate Fellow, Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia

Areas of Expertise

  • Domestic politics in Ukraine, with a focus on oligarchy and civil society
  • EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine’s European integration, including implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU
  • EU Eastern Partnership policy 


English, German, Russian, Ukrainian


Email: solonenko@af.dgap.org

Iryna Solonenko has been an associate fellow at the DGAP’s Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia since May 2015. Since 2012 Solonenko has been working on a research project at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder addressing state-business relations in hybrid regimes, focusing on the political role of Ukrainian oligarchs. Between 2000 and 2012 she worked with the Open Society Foundations in Ukraine as the director of the European Program and as a project manager for the EastWest Institute in Kiev.

Solonenko holds degrees in international relations, European studies, public administration, and history from the Central European University, Budapest; National Academy of Public Administration, Kiev; and National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev. In 2006–07 she was a visiting research associate at the University of Birmingham, and in 2009 she was a fellow in the Study Program on European Security (SPES) at the Institute for European Policy in Berlin.

Solonenko is the author of a number of academic, policy, and media publications. She has served on advisory councils with Ukrainian public authorities, has shared her expertise with EU institutions, and has been a board member or expert with such organizations as Kiev Dialogues, the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, and the European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries.

Her research interests include European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, political economy of post-Soviet transformation, including the nexus between the political power and oligarchic control, and civil society development.


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Selected Publications

The Mystery of Volodymyr Zelenskiy
by Iryna Solonenko
Berlin Policy Journal, April 19, 2019
The comedian has played the president on Ukrainian TV for years. Now he’s likely to be elected to the real office. Who is Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and what or whom does he stand for?
Category: Elections, Ukraine
Hurdle Race with a Slow Start
Public Administration Reform in Ukraine
by Iryna Solonenko
DGAPkompakt 25 (October 2018), 6 pp.
Hurdle Race with a Slow Start
Launched in 2015 after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s public administration reform is a serious attempt to overhaul the existing system based on recognized European principles. However, its implementation has been patchy due to various obstacles including poor leadership and resistance to change. To tackle these drawbacks, it is important to establish a reform task force led by the prime minster and improve legislation. Support from Germany and Europe will also be decisive for the reform’s success.
Category: Reform, Ukraine
How to Win the Battle for a New Ukraine
Reforms, new elites, and old structures
by Iryna Solonenko
DGAPanalyse 4 (May 2016), 11 pp.
How to Win the Battle for a New Ukraine
This April saw the formation of the third Ukrainian government since the Euromaidan protests. Where does Ukraine stand on its path to democratic change? Two years of reform efforts have yielded decidedly mixed results. A battle continues between the old system’s vested interests and reformers pushing hard for a new social contract. Who is winning? And how can external actors help the country, among other things, strengthen political accountability, break monopolies, and fight corruption?
Category: Democratization/System Change, Reform, Ukraine
EU-Ukraine Relations after the Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections
A new "Plan B" for Brussels' policies toward Kiev
by Andreas Umland, Iryna Solonenko
EU-Ukraine Relations after the Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections
After the manipulated elections to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada in October 2012, Brussels' relations with Kiev are deadlocked. Ukraine is not fulfilling the signing conditions for the pre-initialed Association Agreement with the EU. Here an eight-point outline of further and alternative actions for the European Union.
Category: Enlargement Process, European Union, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Eastern Europe