KYIV – The dimly lit cavernous hallways of the tsarist-era Lukyanivska Prison emit a dank and musky smell. Unmitigated mold growth and years of neglect have rendered a whole cell wing and the basement uninhabitable, even by Ukraine’s Soviet-era prison standards. Called “Katka” by its inmates – after Catherine II of Russia who ruled the tsarist empire when the facility was built in 1863 – the prison has had several units added since, the latest being the women’s ward built with Swiss-funded money in 2007. Notoriety always accompanied the Lukyanivska Prison. Used mostly to hold prisoners in between court appearances for alleged crimes, it has a history of prisoner mistreatment and inhumane conditions associated with sanitation, overcrowding, and poor health care and food.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague has refused Ukraine’s request to impose provisional measures against Russia to block what Kyiv says is Russia’s monetary and military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. But the court on April 19 did issue a provisional ruling calling for a halt to what it says is “racial discrimination” against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in Russia-occupied Crimea. “The conditions required for the indication of provisional measures,” as requested by Ukraine in order to block Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, “are not met,” the United Nation’s highest court said in its April 19 ruling, read out by ICJ President Ronny Abraham. Moscow seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and has supported the separatists in a war that has killed more than 9,900 people in eastern Ukraine since April of that year. When it lodged its case in January, Kyiv said that Russia has stepped up its interference in Ukraine’s affairs since 2014, “intervening militarily” and “financing acts of terrorism and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine’s citizens, including, for all too many, their right to life.”
It said Ukraine was seeking “full reparations for…
JENKINTOWN, Pa. – Over 100 members of the Ukrainian-American community traveled from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania to gather on April 6 at Manor College for a presentation on “Ukraine: Education as the Battlefront of Democracy.”
The dialogue examined the most crucial areas of educational reform needed in Ukraine in order to protect and preserve free and democratic ideals. Dialogue moderator Dr. Albert Kipa, former rector of the Ukrainian Free University in Munich and professor laureate of comparative literature at Muhlenberg College, opened the dialogue by sharing a few well-known quotes defining the word “education” and said, “education tries to bring the best out of … humankind.” Dr. Kipa went on to say that the purpose of this dialogue is to talk about what the United States can do to offer Ukraine greater stability. The first speaker, Dr. Serhiy Kvit, former minister of education and science of Ukraine and current director the of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy School of Journalism, focused his remarks on the reform of Ukrainian universities and colleges.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili traveled to Ukraine on March 27, meeting with the host country’s President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. The visit occurred within the framework of a GUAM summit. GUAM, a loose economic and political cooperation organization, brings together Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova (Civil Georgia, March 28). Mr. Kvirikashvili’s visit and its warm, business-like rhetoric, emphasizing the need to deepen economic and political ties, represented a noteworthy break from Kyiv and Tbilisi’s not-so-friendly relations over the last two to three years. Historically, Georgia and Ukraine have largely enjoyed exemplary, close ties.
The truce was broken almost immediately: Russia-backed separatists started firing on Ukrainian positions just hours after the ceasefire went into effect. “Despite the declared truce, our forces have lost several [the exact number depends on the day] soldiers, several others have been wounded over the past day… Notwithstanding the casualties, the Ukrainian army has not returned fire.” This is how a typical daily press release put out by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has read since April 1, when the armed forces declared a ceasefire (at 00:00 hours) in the conflict area of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region (Mil.gov.ua, April 12). Thus, from April 11 to April 12, the Russian occupation forces and their local proxies fired at Ukrainian positions over 45 times, using various weapons, including heavy artillery prohibited by the Minsk agreements (Mediarnbo.org, April 12). The Ukrainian army stopped firing on enemy positions by the order of President Petro Poroshenko, following the agreement on a full ceasefire reached during the meeting of the trilateral Contact Group in Minsk on March 29. According to Mr. Poroshenko, resolute actions were necessary to ensure the ceasefire, including a withdrawal of heavy weaponry and artillery (President.gov.ua, March 30).
“What kind of country assassinates the opposition leader virtually on the steps of their legislature; puts hits out on citizens who speak out against them, even outside its borders; orders the persecution of government employees; foreign politicians and governments to cyber attacks; sends troops across sovereign borders and generally behaves like a 16th century dictatorship? The answer, of course, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. … Abroad, the picture is just as bad. Russia commits war crimes in Syria and props up the Assad regime, while threatening NATO and annexing parts of Ukraine.
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The New Jersey District Committee of the Ukrainian National Association held its annual meeting here at the UNA Home Office on Friday, April 7, with representatives of UNA Branches 25, 37, 42, 133, 155, 171, 269 and 287 in attendance. District Chairman Oksana Stanko opened the proceedings by welcoming all to the meeting. Meeting participants voted a presidium consisting of Yuriy Symczyk as chairman and George Stanko as secretary. The UNA Executive Committee was represented by President Stefan Kaczaraj, National Secretary Symczyk and Treasurer Roma Lisovich. Also present was Luba Walchuk, a UNA advisor and secretary of UNA Branch 362, which is based in neighboring Pennsylvania.
We’ve got to be frank: we were hoping to learn more about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s talks in Moscow before weighing in on the strange question he posed on April 11 to European foreign affairs ministers meeting in Lucca, Italy. That meeting of the G-7 took place on the eve of his visit to Russia. The secretary asked: “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” According to various news reports, the question caused many more questions and consternation about U.S. foreign policy. Was there change afoot in U.S. policy toward Ukraine? The U.S. State Department tried to downplay things, with spokesman R.C. Hammond saying the secretary was merely using a “rhetorical device.”
A rhetorical question or not, there’s been much reaction from members of Congress, analysts and opinion writers, all of whom gave their own answers as to why Ukraine is indeed important to the U.S. Let us begin with the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which the U.S., the United Kingdom and Russia gave security assurances to Kyiv in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
Thirty-one years ago, following the nuclear disaster at Chornobyl on April 26, 1986, the Kremlin showed weakness in the way news of the disaster was initially withheld from the public. “The nuclear disaster at Chornobyl has major implications and undermines the credibility of the Gorbachev regime” both domestically and internationally, said Prof. Bohdan Bociurkiw. The extraordinary Soviet effort to restrict information about the nuclear accident flies in the face of promises of openness made by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev during the 27th Soviet Party Congress, Dr. Bociurkiw explained. In his speech to the congress, Mr. Gorbachev said, “Extensive, timely and frank information is evidence of trust in the people, respect for their intelligence and feelings and of their kind ability to understand events of one kind or another on their own.”
Dr. Bociurkiw said that this latest move would sour relations with Moscow’s neighbors. In the past, he said, the Soviet coverage of the 1965 earthquake in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, lied to people by saying that only four fatalities had resulted when in fact more than 8,000 people had died from the earthquake.
Many commentators have now answered U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s question, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” But they have failed to point out why that is the wrong question – and why it reflects a profound change in the United States with far larger and more dangerous implications than some might think. It is quite clear that American citizens have a profound interest in supporting Ukraine as a fellow democracy that has been invaded by a dictatorship that is dedicated to overthrowing the basic principles of the West – the rule of law, the supremacy of citizenship over ethnicity and the right of nations to self-determination. And while is also quite clear that Americans as taxpayers have an interest in supporting Ukraine because those basic political principles have contributed to the growth of the U.S. and the world economy, focusing on, or more precisely reducing, Americans and their interests from citizens to taxpayers reflects a dangerous habit of mind. Not only does it detract attention from political questions that are central in the Ukrainian case, but it encourages a selfish and individualistic rather than generous and collective spirit that so often has informed American actions in the world at their best. And that shift, if it continues, makes such noble actions not just in support of Ukraine far more unlikely.
Eight days ago, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson posed a rhetorical question to his G-7 counterparts, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” There are both compelling reasons why they should be and even more why the real question is why U.S. citizens should be (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/04/american-citizens-should-care-about.html). But when people, be they senior officials or ordinary citizens, begin asking questions like that, it is a clear indication that they are increasingly focusing on themselves rather than on broader issues and are tired of bearing the burdens that the situation or their leaders have demanded. That makes a poll result from the Russian Federation, the country that has invaded Ukraine, especially interesting, because it suggests that Russian taxpayers are beginning to define the Ukrainian issue in much the same way Secretary Tillerson has. That is, they are asking why they should be interested in Ukraine if it is taking money away from them. According to the Levada Center, Russians still view the Anschluss of Crimea positively and dismiss Western criticism of it as a violation of international law.
It is often forgotten that Ukraine is currently the scene of the largest land battle in Europe where the battle for democracy is unfolding before eyes. Amid Russian cyberattacks and militant aggression in eastern Ukraine, the fledgling democratic government in Kyiv continues to work to fulfill the promises of the Euro-Maidan and advance economic reforms.
The West must continue to support our ally Ukraine – for the sake of protecting its democratic future, and defending the principle of democracy the world over. Ignoring Vladimir Putin’s continued offensive of covert military attacks, political pressure, propaganda and cyberattacks threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty and our own American national security interests. It’s no coincidence that cyberattacks against Ukraine increased when the Ukrainian people self-organized to demand an open and democratic society in 2014. Days before Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election, hackers infiltrated Ukraine’s Central Election Commission with a series of attacks that disabled the website in an attempt to sow distrust in the outcome of the election of President Petro Poroshenko.
The following text was released by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress on April 9. The Ukrainian Canadian community joins all Canadians in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. “Several thousand Ukrainian Canadians fought in World War I with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Many were recently arrived immigrants to Canada who served their new homeland with distinction and honour,” stated Capt. (ret.) Andre Sochaniwsky, CD, president of the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada. “Today we pause to remember the enormous sacrifices Canadians have made to the cause of freedom.”
On April 9, 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked German positions on Vimy Ridge in northern France.
“Three Ways the West Can Get Tougher on Russia for Crimea Land Grab,” by Taras Kuzio, Atlantic Council’s “Ukraine’s Alert,” April 3 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/three-ways-the-west-can-get-tougher-on-russia-for-crimea-land-grab):
Russia’s occupation of Crimea has reached its third anniversary, and there is no evidence in sight that President Vladimir Putin will withdraw his occupation forces. Both the United States and Canada have reiterated their support for continued sanctions against Russia as long as Crimea continues to be occupied. Still, ending Russia’s illegal occupation could take decades. To increase the effectiveness of Western pressure on Russia, three additional policies are necessary. First, Ukraine must stop expecting the West to assume the heavy lifting of sanctions against Russia while Ukraine itself continues to trade with Crimea and the two Russian proxy enclaves, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR).
I was a high school senior in 1964 when my guidance counselor gave me a pile of college catalogues: Cleveland State, Ohio State, Ohio U., Kenyon, Notre Dame…
Notre Dame? I knew they had a great football team, but reading the catalogue I also discovered they had a sophomore studies program in Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck! That’s where I was born! That settled it.