Ukrainians in United States protest Russian actions near Tuzla Island, Ukraine
CHICAGO - Answering the call to action by the Ukrainian World Congress for a coordinated worldwide protest against Russia's attempt to annex Tuzla Island, internationally recognized as a part of sovereign Ukraine, Chicago's Ukrainian community responded some 300 strong to demonstrate in Daley Plaza on Wednesday afternoon, October 29.
Pavlo Bandriwsky, external affairs chairman for Branch 8 of the Organizaton for the Defence of Four Freedoms for Ukraine, opened the local protest, organized by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and the ODFFU.
Mr. Bandriwsky stated that three months ago at Daley Plaza, during the commemoration of the 12th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence, a warning went out that there is a threat to world peace from Moscow. Now Ukrainians across the globe realize this was not an idle warning. Russia has been building a dam from the mainland to annex the Ukrainian island of Tuzla to the Russian Federation. Last year Russia took two islands with valuable resources away from Kazakstan. Kazakstan was not strong enough to stand up to Vladimir Putin and the world did not protest. Ukraine must be strong and the world must protest Russian imperialism.
Orest Baranyk, president of UCCA Illinois Division, stated the demonstration had a three-fold aim: "to condemn Russia's effort to land-grab Ukraine's Tuzla Island as well as Moscow's threat to "use bombs" against Ukraine; to demand that the U.S. vehemently protest Moscowís threat, particularly since America gave Ukraine assurances in 1992 that it would protect Ukraine's territorial sovereignty in return for Ukraine giving its nuclear weapons to Russia; and to reinforce Ukraine's Foreign Minister [Kostyantyn] Gryschenko in his meeting with Russian Defense Minister Ivanov in Kyiv on October 30.
"It appears that after two visits to [President George W.] Bush's ranch in Texas, Putin was given a green light not only to deal with Chechnya but also a total sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. In light of that, Putin has resumed a policy of imperialistic expansionism that has always been practiced by Moscow," said Mr. Baranyk. "For Putin's supposed aid in fighting terrorism, Bush is giving Putin a free hand in Eastern Europe. As American citizens we will not allow the U.S. government to commit another Yalta," asserted Mr. Baranyk.
Yaroslava Pawlyshyn, who along with her family suffered repression by the Moscow-led Communist regime, including exile in Siberia, spoke passionately about the aggressive, imperialistic tendencies of Russia. She called upon Ukrainians worldwide to unite with their brothers and sisters in Ukraine to successfully confront their historical enemy.
Mr. Bandriwsky read a leaflet issued by the Ukrainian World Congress that detailed the recent Russian aggressions. It also called for Americans to contact President Bush, senators and congressmen to express concern about Russia's peace-threatening actions. Ukraine voluntarily gave up the world's third largest nuclear arsenal for the sake of world peace, with full assurance that the United States of America would defend its sovereignty, when needed. The time has come for America to deliver on this promise, Mr. Bandriwsky underscored.
The demonstration ended with the participants distributing over 1,000 of the UWC leaflets to passers-by and chanting "Moscow cannot be trusted," "Stop Russian imperialism," and "Russians out of Ukraine."
Follow up activity will include a national letter-writing campaign coordinated by UCCA and ODFFU to federal officials.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, November 9, 2003, No. 45, Vol. LXXI
| Home Page |