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6 May 2009

Asters Supports the International Student Debate Tournament "Kyiv Spring 2009"

Asters law firm was a partner in organizing the 7th Annual Kyiv Spring International Debate Tournament, which was held in Kyiv on May 1-3, 2009.

The parliamentary debate entails role-play between teams, in which one side (the "government") is opposed by another side (the "opposition"). Kyiv Spring 2009 is a unique form of legal and socio-political training for young people that is aimed at developing analytical thought among young experts and their capability both to make decisions and ground such decisions. The tournament is conducted in two languages – Ukrainian and English. In the debate round, there are four teams taking part (two teams for the "government" and two teams for the "opposition", with each team comprised of two people). The main task of both sides is to express and prove its position in the most substantiated and qualified manner within the allotted time limit.

The tournament is conducted in the style of British Parliamentary Debate, which is the official format of the World Universities Debating Championship. The team of adjudicators was comprised of experts from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Great Britain, Canada and Qatar. Asters associate Oleksiy Yatsenko served as Ukrainian Language Adjudicator this year; the chief English Language Adjudicator was William Jones from Great Britain – the famous debater and judge, who is both European Debate Champion and World Debate Champion.

Around 110 students took part in the tournament this year, representing 7 countries – Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Qatar, and Finland. The Steering Committee determined the topics of each round, and in keeping with the equal and transparent nature of the competition, such topics were made known 15 minutes prior to the start of each round. Ukrainian participants were offered interesting topics for today – for example, employer-employee relations and relations between the state and the individual, as well lending to Ukraine in light of the complex economic situation and the upcoming presidential elections. Topics for the English-speaking students were selected in a global context, but they were no less topical. The foreigners debated aspects of international relations and the effects of certain countries’ governmental policies on the rights and liberties of their citizens.

In the Ukrainian Language Track of Kyiv Spring 2009, the winners were Oleksandr Kupriyenko and Kyrylo Kozhemyakin from Dnepropetrovsk State University who in the finals debated the topic "Does an individual sentenced to life imprisonment have the right to change the punishment to the death penalty?". In the finals of the English Language Track, the winners were Evgenija Golubova from Vilnius University (Lithuania) and Amitavo Ganguli of the University of Helsinki, who argued the "pros" and "cons" of the justifiability and expediency of using noncombatants as "human shields". The organizers and partners of the competition awarded the debate winners with cups and trophies.

Oleksiy Yatsenko, associate at Asters and Chief Ukrainian Language Adjudicator, noted at the conclusion of the debates: "The Kyiv Spring Tournament, which has taken place in Kyiv since 2003, is the largest and oldest international parliamentary debate championship in Ukraine. This time, we had a very intense competition with strong teams taking part, and I am glad that the Steering Committee managed to invite international authorities in debating and to come up with interesting and topical themes for the participants. Today, our championship is very popular among university students in the CIS and Baltic States. We are striving to become the most authoritative tournament for Central and East European countries, so we must stay the course in order to reach the level of the West."

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