ByIsobel Koshiw / Special to The Ukrainian Weekly |
With the war so far away for most, the Ukrainian population’s attention has turned away from Russia and the war to the failures of Ukraine’s authorities and the country’s economic woes. KHARKIV, Ukraine – The Kharkiv Military Hospital has settled into the routine of this simmering war. Around five to 10 patients arrive each week. The head doctors say eight out 10 soldiers admitted, which include those sick as well as wounded, recover – though not necessarily psychologically. The injured soldiers lie bandaged up on modern-looking hospital beds.
KYIV – An anxious Kyiv has denied a story in The New York Times quoting an expert as saying North Korea may have obtained rocket engines from a Ukrainian state-run factory known as Yuzhmash, and instead alleges Russia is to blame. Citing a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and classified assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies, The Times on August 14 reported that Pyongyang’s recent progress in its long-range missile program may be due to it having obtained advanced engine technology from Ukraine or Russia. But the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), Oleksandr Turchynov, insisted that could not be the case. “Ukraine has never supplied rocket engines or any kind of missile technology to North Korea,” he said in a strongly worded statement published on the council’s website. “We believe that this anti-Ukrainian campaign was triggered by Russian secret services to cover their participation in the North Korean nuclear and missile programs.”
Moscow has not commented on the report or Ukraine’s allegations.
CHICAGO – Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk was enthroned as the fifth eparch of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Chicago, which includes most of the central and western United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. The services took place on June 29 at St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was filled to overflowing by the faithful, hierarchs, clergy and monastics. The Ukrainian-born Bishop Benedict (Venedykt), 49, previously served as auxiliary bishop of Lviv.
The 18th anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s accession to power is an appropriate occasion to remember that the successes of the Kremlin leader and those of Russia as a whole aren’t “one and the same thing, however much his regime tries to promote the opposite view,” according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin. From antiquity, philosophers and rulers have recognized that it is better to be lucky than to be talented, the Russian commentator observes. That is because “talent does not bring success every time, but you can’t argue with achievements. Fate is, after all, fate” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/08/08/ 1637046.html). Mr. Putin was extremely lucky for the first part of his reign, but his luck has clearly run out, and he doesn’t have the talent or the energy to function successfully without luck, Mr. Shelin suggests.
“Putin Still in Denial over the Loss of Ukraine,” by Peter Dickinson, Atlantic Council, August 8 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/russia-still-in-denial-over-the-loss-of-ukraine#.WYxiiuGMUHs.facebook):
… The Kremlin clings to the idea that a silent majority of pro-Russian Ukrainians lies ready and waiting, poised to take over the reins in Kyiv at the right moment and steer Ukraine back into the Kremlin orbit. Such wishful thinking is nothing new. On the contrary, it is consistent with Moscow’s historic characterization of the Ukrainian independence movement as the work of an extremist minority and their foreign backers. However, the events of the past few years have left Kremlin notions of Slavic solidarity looking more anachronistic than ever. Although Putin refuses to admit it, the sun is setting on centuries of Russian preeminence in Ukraine, and he has only himself to blame.
KYIV – A retired senior Ukrainian diplomat has testified at the in-absentia treason trial of former President Viktor Yanukovych. Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2007 to 2015, spoke for over an hour in the Kyiv courtroom as the trial resumed on August 15 after a two-week hiatus. He gave testimony about the situation at the United Nations and in Ukraine and Russia in February and March 2014, when Moscow sent troops in unmarked uniforms to Crimea to establish control over the Ukrainian region before illegally annexing it. Ambassador Sergeyev said that Russia used Mr. Yanukovych to try to justify its intervention by claiming that the “legal president of Ukraine” had asked Moscow to send troops into Ukraine to preserve order and to ensure the safety of personnel at Russia’s naval base in Crimea. “Yanukovych’s address to Putin was the last attempt by the Russian Federation to justify its aggression against Ukraine before the world community,” he said, referring to a letter dated March 1, 2014, that Russia’s U.N. ambassador read from at a Security Council meeting three days later.
The 26th anniversary of the re-establishment of Ukraine’s independence is four days after the date of this issue. Surely, it is a time for celebrating the historic and courageous act of August 24, 1991, that declared “the independence of Ukraine and the creation of an independent Ukrainian state – Ukraine.” Surely, it is a time for reflection about where independent Ukraine is today and where it is headed. We have no doubt that the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the diaspora will mark this national holiday as it should be. At the same time, however, our joy is tempered by present-day developments. Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, and the people of Ukraine are being killed – more than 10,000 since April 2014.
Forty-nine years ago, on August 20, 1968, the Soviet Union sent in troops from the Warsaw Pact nations to crush rising anti-Soviet protests in Czechoslovakia, led by Czech leader Alexander Dubcek. Mr. Dubcek called for greater political freedom, including more participation by non-communist parties, pushing for free market economic policies and greater freedom from Soviet domination in what came to be known as the “Prague Spring.”
On the night of August 20, more than 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops crossed into Czechoslovakia, headed for Prague. The Soviets occupied the country within just over a day, and within a week, nearly three-quarters of a million Soviet troops were in Czechoslovakia. Due to the brutality of force used by the Soviets, thousands of Czechs fled the country. In Washington, Dr. Lev Dobriansky, chairman of the Captive Nations Committee and president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, called on the United States to voice outrage at the United Nations and elsewhere, and to seek U.N. intervention in Czechoslovakia.
“…my people and I watch with a certain concern how little the West realizes what is currently brewing in the expanses of Russia.”
– Estonian President Lennart Meri, speaking in 1994
Even Western leaders who are distinguished by the boldness of their statements on other issues appear reluctant to speak directly to Vladimir Putin about his lies and crimes, apparently fearful that he will turn the tables on them, use their words to reinforce his power at home and attack them for undermining the possibility of reasonable relations. But there have been some happy exceptions when Western leaders have not been afraid to speak the truth to Mr. Putin directly, even though the Russian’s bad behavior only underscores how right they are to do so. One such event is now attracting a great deal of attention in both Russia and Germany. It deserves to be known even more widely. Because the G-20 summit took place in Hamburg this year and because it featured a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald Trump, German and Russian commentators have recalled an earlier meeting in Hamburg, in 1994, when Estonian President Lennart Meri delivered a remarkable address that caused Mr. Putin to stomp out of the hall.
A letter from the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. Beloved brethren in the Lord! Today, all the bells in the sacred temples of our ancestral homeland Ukraine ring, proclaiming the joyous news that Ukraine celebrates the 26th anniversary of her independence. We thank our Lord God from the bottom of our hearts for this wonderful gift – an independent and sovereign state. It is truly a gift for all of us – both those who live in Ukraine and those whose destiny it is to live far beyond the borders of their beloved homeland.
In a bizarre tweet following his begrudging signing of the Russia, Iran and North Korea sanctions legislation earlier this month, President Donald Trump blamed the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations on Congress, rather than on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where that responsibility squarely belongs. Sorry, Mr. President, the foe here is not Congress, but an oppressive, corrupt dictator who can’t seem to shake his unhealthy imperial impulses. One can rightly accuse Congress of many shortcomings. Over the last few years, our legislative branch has become increasingly polarized, hyper-partisan and unable to reach compromises so essential to the normal functioning of a democracy. Reasons for this abound and include increased gerrymandering/redistricting, the 24-hour news cycle, and increased ability of powerful outside interests to punish Members of Congress who do not completely toe their line.
ByHalya Coyness / Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group |
Forty-six-year-old Volodymyr Balukh is suffering from heart problems and high blood pressure after six months in a filthy and overcrowded Crimean SIZO [remand unit]. The recognized political prisoner’s very life could be in danger, and he is just one of at least 28 men held on fabricated charges in conditions which are prohibited under international conventions as inhuman and degrading. Concerns have long been expressed about the conditions in the Symferopol SIZO, where Russia is currently holding Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz; Mr. Balukh, a pro-Ukrainian activist; 15 Crimean Muslims accused of involvement in a peaceful organization which is legal in Ukraine and most countries; and at least 10 Ukrainians charged with fictitious and constantly changing “sabotage” plots. There is grave overcrowding, and the men have to take turns to sleep on the available bunks. The Crimean Human Rights Group points out that in summer the temperature in Symferopol can reach 40 degrees Celsius. The cells in which the men are held are small, with only slightly more than two square meters per person, against the sanitary norm of four square meters. Relatives explain that there is a total lack of any free or personal space, and the cells at the moment are unbearably hot and stuffy. The men have to wash their underwear, etc.
WASHINGTON – Jamestown Foundation President Glen E. Howard called on U.S. government officials and members of Congress to direct their attention to the recent decision by Russian authorities to unilaterally close the international waterway known as the Kerch Strait – the gateway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The strategically important Ukrainian port cities of Mariupol and Berdiansk, along the northern shore of the Azov Sea, are two of the biggest exporters of Ukrainian steel to the West. Thus the closure of the Kerch Strait for any length of time would have a debilitating effect on the fragile Ukrainian economy, the August 9 statement noted. The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine intends to file a complaint to the International Maritime Organization on the matter, and the Ukrainian government is reportedly compiling data to estimate the economic damage to the country likely to result from Russia’s announced closures of the strait. On August 7, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation announced the temporary closure of the international straits as part of construction efforts to build a bridge connecting Russia to the occupied territory of Crimea.
KERCH, Ukraine – For years and even decades, residents of the Crimean city of Kerch have tended orchards and gardens in the green dacha community of Zaliv. But in recent days they have watched in anger and sadness as bulldozers and other construction machinery have begun clearing the area to make way for the construction of a highway that is planned to someday span the entire Crimean peninsula and connect to the Kerch Bridge. The local Kerch.FM outlet posted a video in which angry locals watch as their trees crash to the ground. “These are real barbarians,” one woman is heard saying. “It looks like they are enjoying destroying not just the land, but the people, too.
ByUkrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia |
PHILADELPHIA – Pope Francis has appointed the Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy as auxiliary bishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. The announcement was made on August 8. The pope concurred with the recommendation of the appointment offered by the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops. The new bishop has been assigned the Titular See of Germaniciana. The Very Rev. Andriy Rabiy currently serves as vicar general and as vice-chancellor for the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, and as a dean of the Lehigh-Schuylkill Deanery in Pennsylvania.