LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Kudos to Zawada for election reports
Kudos to Zenon Zawada of The Weekly's Kyiv Press Bureau for his comprehensive, informative and well-written coverage of the Ukrainian elections in the April 2 issue.
Although I was present in Ukraine as an election observer and read a variety of reports and other materials on the elections, I found the timely information in Mr. Zawada's articles, including his interviews with other observers, valuable in rounding out my own knowledge as I prepared for appearances at various forums to discuss this milestone event in Ukraine's democratic evolution.
Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Internment victims were dishonored
In the summer of 2002, I was on a family vacation in upstate New York. We took the ferry across the St. Lawrence River over to Kingston, Ontario, and came upon Fort Henry. There, while on a tour of the historic fort, we encountered a plaque on the inside wall, marking it as one of the sites of internment of Ukrainians by the Canadian government during World War I. It was placed there by the efforts of Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA).
Last week, we traveled to Banff, Alberta, to visit and ski in the Canadian Rockies for our very first time. On April 8, after our arrival, and settling in, we randomly chose to drive up the Bow Valley Parkway toward Lake Louise and explore the area. Suddenly, my wife, Irena, noticed a roadside sign: "internment camp." We pulled over. Much to my amazement, again, we encountered a trilingual plaque and statue of a Ukrainian internee near the base of Castle Mountain. As I took photos and video, I was again amazed at yet another coincidental "find" while vacationing in Canada.
We posed for family pictures. It was a serene and peaceful place. The plaque and statue were decorated with colorful natural and artificial flowers, which accented the monument relative to the background of the snowy forest.
But one thing disturbed me. On one corner of the plaque, someone had scratched in the f-- word, and, on the base of the statue by John Boxtel, the letters "BS." They were noticeable, but seemed, thankfully, somewhat faded.
When we returned home, I came across Dr. Luciuk's article about the defacement of this very same monument in the April 16 issue of The Ukrainian Weekly. The defacement is documented on my digital video footage. I had much the same feelings as Dr. Luciuk. I felt that a part of me was dishonored and violated because this was a memorial to my people. As I looked at the face of the man depicted in the statue, it would have been a contemporary of my great-grandfather.
I wondered, was it a premeditated action, or the random act of an intoxicated hooligan? Regardless, the individual who defaced such a monument was filled with hate and bigotry. Later, I walked around the woods behind the monument, presumably the remnants of the camp. I wondered just how the internees and their families might have felt; betrayed, mistrusted, mistreated, victims of ignorance and prejudice. Our pain must have paled in comparison to theirs.
It reminded me of how important such memorials are. This was the action of one sick individual. However, during the more than 10 years that the memorial to the Ukrainian internees had been in place, perhaps many thousands of people had visited the site without acting out in such a disrespectful manner. Perhaps many thousands thought about the answer to "Why?" Many thousands were reminded of the injustices that prejudice and bigotry bring upon humanity. Hopefully, the more we are reminded of tragic events in history, maybe, just maybe, the chances of recurrences in the future might slowly fade.
As an individual, I may not agree with the UCCLA's proposals regarding prosecuting Stalin-era war criminals. But the concrete work that these volunteers do to research, inform and memorialize injustices that the Ukrainian nation has suffered is extremely important. Organizations such as the UCCLA deserve our moral and material support.
Dr. Yuri A. Deychakiwsky
North Potomac, Md.
About identifying 'unidentified' guests
I am grateful to Luba Mudri and Yaro Bihun for identifying the "unidentified guest" as Msgr. Dmytro Gresko in my article about the Ukrainian community in Apopka (March 12). Many community members tried very hard to identify him before I submitted the photograph for the article, and we even passed around the original photo at our church. Unfortunately, most of the parishioners who were around when that photo was taken almost 30 years ago have sadly passed on, or could not remember. We simply couldn't get the information, and the oversight was never intentional. Actually, we're glad to know who he was as part of our community history, too.
I am also glad that my article sparked another one that features Msgr. Gresko and his contributions. Publications such as The Ukrainian Weekly are so valuable because they provide a forum to commemorate and appreciate the people who have dedicated themselves to the Ukrainian community through their vocations, ideals and causes, and who would otherwise perhaps go unnoticed or forgotten over the years.
Which brings me to the photograph from 1956 included in the article about Msgr. Gresko in which "an unidentified nun" is mentioned in the caption. Perhaps someone else will identify her and someday write about her contributions as well. It's very likely hers is a story that also needs to be told, along with those of so many other unnamed heroes and heroines.
Ukraine's "friends" in the United States
The pseudo-explanations given by Ohio Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich for their failure to support HR 1053 to graduate Ukraine from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment (March 26) ring hollow and bring to mind the saying: "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
Their mention of the Anti-Defamation League and implied reference to the controversial Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP) to justify their refusal to vote for Ukraine when the chips were down makes one wonder just how much they are kowtowing to the ADL. After all, it is common knowledge that Ukraine has granted extensive civil rights to minorities, especially Jews.
Seems that our critical "friends" will not be satisfied, and will continue to ignore statements by Ukraine's highest officials (starting with the president) condemning anti-Semitism, until the Ukrainian government shuts down the MAUP (freedom of speech be damned).
Then, our "friends" will search with their magnifying glasses until they find another wrinkle on the beautiful face of Ukraine that is pointed out by powerful special interests who cannot accept the existence of an independent Ukraine.
Yushchenko's prime time is over
The outcome of the parliamentary election in Ukraine on March 26 was succinctly described by Tom Warner in the Financial Times of April 8: "A divided pro-Western Orange camp won a narrow victory over Blue pro-Russian forces."
With the wipeout of the 22 percent of the vote cast for a multiplicity of small parties failing to get at least 3 percent, the line-up in the Verkhovna Rada will be 54 percent vs. 46 percent in favor of the Orange parties.
Had the vote for Russian flag-waving Natalia Vitrenko's People's Opposition Bloc cleared the 3 percent threshold (which it missed by a hair), the Orange parliamentary majority would have slipped to 51.7 percent.
These numbers should dampen the notion that Viktor Yanukovych, with his Party of the Regions getting 32 percent of the popular vote, has failed to match the 44 percent he received in the presidential contest in December 2004. The 46 percent pro-Russian minority (consisting of the Party of the Regions and the Communist Party) in the next Verkhovna Rada is effectively Mr. Yanukovych's brigade, which would make him prime minister if it had the strength that it almost achieved.
The line between the Orange and pro-Russian camps has been almost immutable, reflecting a quasi-permanent regional divide clearly seen on the electoral results map. Zenon Zawada, in his "Reporter's Notebook," (March 26) offered a thoughtful description of the prevailing mindset in southeastern Ukraine. It also showed the unbending determination of "Blue" strategists to nurture their notions of right and wrong, with scant regard for "foreign" perceptions.
The crucial few percentage points that tipped the election's outcome were assiduously courted. With the collapsing credibility of President Viktor Yushchenko - a sequence that started shortly after he took office and is vividly recapitulated in Taras Kuzio's analysis in The Ukrainian Weekly of April 2, among others - Mr. Yanukovych was poised for a comeback win.
The key and initially unnoticed or ignored counter-process that at the end frustrated his effort was the shift of the Orange center of gravity toward Yulia Tymoshenko. It was set in motion by the dramatic resignation of Oleksander Zinchenko, the president's chief of staff and his campaign manager in the 2004 election, on September 3, 2005, and it turned Mr. Yushchenko's loss into Ms. Tymoshenko's gain.
"The exquisite Yulia" pulled it off again. In a bold move to revive the Orange cause, the majority of Mr. Yushchenko's team apparently decided to openly challenge their leader to weigh in against corruption in his own circle. When he balked, their choice of Ms. Tymoshenko was inevitable.
Mr. Zawada, while acknowledging in his column the corruption in Mr. Yushchenko's entourage, agreed with him that "Ms. Tymoshenko sometimes puts her own interests ahead of all others." This is a philosophical statement. Given Mr. Yushchenko's breathtaking vacuum of leadership, a critical opinion of Ms. Tymoshenko sounds almost like a certification of good behavior. It reminds one of former New York Mayor Ed Koch's quip that he (Koch) would be perfect if he were modest.
As of now, Ms. Tymoshenko's strong showing effectively means that she has taken over as standard-bearer of the Orange Revolution. No matter what the shape of a ruling parliamentary coalition will be, Mr. Yushchenko's prime time is over. Sadly, he is a lame duck president.
North Caldwell, N.J.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 30, 2006, No. 18, Vol. LXXIV
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