STAMFORD – More than 100 people from the tri-state area and beyond celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford, (Conn.), the oldest cultural institution of its kind in the United States. At a cocktail hour and festive banquet at the Stamford Sheraton Hotel on October 7, members, friends and donors gathered to pay tribute to the institution’s founders, acknowledge the achievements of past decades and look ahead to its future. The celebrants heard a keynote address by Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, archbishop of Winnipeg and a talk by guest speaker Jurij Dobczansky of the Library of Congress. A special guest – David Martin, the mayor of Stamford, made an appearance and also offered remarks. Performing in a musical interlude during the banquet was violinist Innesa Tymochko-Dekajlo.
KYIV – Protesters calling for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to enact anti-corruption reforms or step down notched a small victory on October 19 as the Verkhovna Rada sent a bill on lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution to the Constitutional Court for review. Hundreds of demonstrators aligned with opposition parties cheered the news when it was announced in front of the legislature, where they have been camping out in tents since October 17 to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Poroshenko to clamp down on what they see as rampant corruption in government. Mustafa Nayyem, a reformist deputy and Poroshenko critic, called it “a small victory” for the opposition that is likely to appease the protesters for the time being. Thousands of demonstrators have gathered outside the Verkhovna Rada in recent days in a mainly peaceful protest, though minor clashes with police have been reported. In addition to setting up more than half a dozen tents in front of Parliament, they have also managed to bring metal shields into the security area, echoing measures taken by activists in the massive Euro-Maidan protests that pushed Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014.
KYIV – Rutgers University-Newark political science professor Alexander Motyl is known for swimming against the tide when it comes to speaking about post-Maidan Ukraine. All is not lost and not everything is “doom and gloom,” his writings and observations often say. Unlike many of his Ukrainian and Western contemporaries, Prof. Motyl insists that Ukraine is historically in the best position since the 17th century to forge a stronger state entity, one that can consolidate democracy in five years, to become economically and socially prosperous, and Westernize in the coming years.
On October 13, the professor, novelist and poet spoke with The Ukrainian Weekly via an online messenger service, sharing his views on Ukraine’s new law on education, the situation in the Donbas and Ukraine’s options in the ongoing war being waged by Russia. After earning his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1984, Prof. Motyl embarked on an academic and teaching career. The Ukrainian American has earned a reputation for having expertise on “Ukraine, Russia and the USSR,” according to the World Affairs Journal.
The Russian government recently announced a hike in excise duties on gasoline. The overall retail price will increase by more than a ruble per liter (6.5 cents per gallon), or by around 2.5 percent of its current market price, by the end of the next year (Ekho Moskvy, September 18). Legally speaking, the current Tax Code authorizes only a 30-kopek (about 1 cent ) tax increase on gasoline retail sales per six-month period, compared to the announced tariff surge of 50 kopeks (Daily-finance.ru, September 18). Moreover, it was announced that Russian cellular network operators will soon need to pay more money into the so-called “Universal Service Reserve.” Today, 1.2 percent of their total revenue goes into this national reserve pool (RBC, September 18). All this was done in a desperate move to raise 165 billion rubles ($2.86 billion U.S.) badly needed for infrastructure projects in occupied Crimea, as well as Kaliningrad and the Russian Far East (Vedomosti, September 18).
Foreign investments in renewable energy projects benefit Ukraine in the shift to clean energy, but they also have wider geo-economic and national security importance for this struggling European democracy. Ukraine is currently pursuing a number of renewable energy ventures funded by foreign investments. The latest is a 10 million euro ($12 million U.S.) solar plant project by the Canadian firm TIU, to be located in Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (Interfax, September 25). The 10.5 megawatt (MW) Nikopol solar power facility also represents the first investment to have come in under the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, in force since August 1. Ukraine is following the global trend of accelerated investment in renewable energy.
NEW YORK – On Thursday, September 28, at the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York, Ukrainian religious leaders, diplomats and members of the Ukrainian American community of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania gathered to bid farewell to Consul General Igor Sybiga and his family. Mr. Sybiga, who served as consul general in New York since 2012, was previously posted at the Consulate General in 2000-2004. Standing among friends and family, Mr. Sybiga reflected on Ukraine’s 26 years of independence and how, especially in recent years, Ukraine’s journey has been one of perseverance. That said, he also noted that Ukraine is blessed with an incredible diaspora – especially evident to him in the United States – that is so active politically, culturally, financially and in other respects. Referring to President Petro Poroshenko’s recent signing into law of a series of nationwide education reforms that will ensure Ukrainian-language education across the country, Mr. Sybiga remarked how much he enjoyed his numerous visits to the Soyuzivka Heritage Center in Kerhonkson, N.Y., where he had witnessed the preservation of Ukraine’s culture and language by generations of immigrants.
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Ukrainian National Association’s Connecticut District Committee held its fall organizing meeting on Saturday, September 30, at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church Hall in Hartford, Conn. Preceding the meeting was a community breakfast, as well as presentations by UNA National Secretary Yuriy Symczyk, UNA Treasurer Roma Lisovich and UNA Certified Annuity Specialist Stefko Woch. Current and prospective UNA members have received information in the following cities in recent months: Bound Brook, Clifton, Jersey City, Passaic, Perth Amboy and Whippany, N.J.; Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and Stamford, Conn.; Cleveland; New York and Kerhonkson, N.Y.; and Horsham, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Earlier this year during festival season, using this editorial space, we invited readers to share photos and short news items about the Ukrainian festivals in their areas. We reasoned that since we listed 51 festivals in the 2017 edition of our annual special supplement called “A Ukrainian Summer,” there should be a lot to report from all over North America. The message of the editorial was this: Tell us, and our readers, all about it! Some of you, we’re happy to say, took us up on the offer and did send in wonderful high-quality photos that filled an entire color page in one of our issues. (There’s an example in this week’s issue on page 11.)
Now that a new year of community activity is in full swing after the summer, we again invite readers to become our partners in sharing news about your community in our community newspaper.
Three years ago, on October 26, 2014, Ukraine held parliamentary elections that marked a turning point in the country’s history. It was the first time in independent Ukraine that the Communist Party did not receive enough votes to be represented in the Ukrainian Parliament. Also for the first time, pro-Western parties collectively gained more votes in southeastern oblasts, with the exception of Kharkiv and the Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and in Russia-annexed Crimea. It was also the first time that a pro-Western party, the Poroshenko Bloc, was the most popular party in the Odesa, Kherson and Mykolayiv oblasts. However, the election also saw the lowest voter turnout ever for a parliamentary election with 52.4 percent.
“The single real consequence of the Putin regime” is the promotion in the population not so much of overwhelming support for an imperial ideology but rather for the kind of baseness and cynicism that allows them to “change their values, politics and even facts” overnight as the Kremlin line changes, analyst Ksenia Kirillova writes in her blog on Radio Svoboda. “To correct this part of the [Russian] mentality,” one that reflects an increasingly short-term memory and the willingness to go along with anything the supreme leader calls for, however different it may be today from what it was yesterday, will be a far more difficult task than rooting out any particular ideology (svoboda.org/a/ 28786531.html). Many were surprised by how quickly Russians changed their view of Ukraine from a “fraternal people” to “a hostile state” in the space of a few days, she writes. But “there was nothing surprising in this” for anyone who remembered the numerous cases when the Kremlin changed course on Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other issues. “The memory of the majority of consumers of television propaganda is surprisingly short,” Ms. Kirillova says.
Lev Gudkov, the head of the Levada Center polling agency, says that Russians have evolved from Homo Sovieticus to “Putin Men,” changing in certain fundamental ways as a result of Vladimir Putin’s rule, but retaining many of the features from the Soviet past. The longtime sociologist says that a Soviet man was archetypically “a person born in and shaped by a totalitarian regime. Life in repressive conditions [made] him crafty and skilled at doublethink. He [knew] how to bypass the authorities’ demands while simultaneously maintaining informal and corrupt relations with them” (themoscowtimes.com/articles/the-evolution-of-homo-sovieticus-to-putins-man-59189). “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work,” was his motto, Mr. Gudkov says.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In a July 16th address to the Ukrainian-American community here at St. Michael’s Church, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) praised the extraordinary work of U.S. military hospitals and unveiled an initiative to help severely wounded Ukrainian soldiers. “Hospital staff have performed remarkable feats rebuilding bodies and human lives,” he said. “I have introduced a provision into the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to bring [these] bravest soldiers to the United States to obtain the best treatment that our military hospitals can provide.”
Before a room full of television cameras and local journalists, Sen. Blumenthal expressed his steadfast support for Ukraine.
Thus wrote Vladimir Lenin in 1916 to his followers in Ukraine. Lenin never wavered in his exploitation of Ukraine and its people. Nor did his gangster heirs. “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” by Anne Applebaum is easy to read and difficult: easy because it is written with the author’s fluid clarity confirming what we’ve known for decades; hard because her subject is the Holodomor with all of its ghastly facets. Reviewing “Red Famine” in the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard described how Ms. Applebaum “makes it clear beyond debate that the Holodomor …was a crime comparable with anything committed by the Nazis – a view that has caused some controversy but is so patently obvious after reading her book as to make the controversy seem ridiculous”.
CHICAGO – A group of journalists from Kyiv took part on September 8-16 in a professional exchange program sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center, an international exchange agency of the U.S. legislative branch with administration provided by the U.S.- Ukraine Foundation. The program was organized and hosted by the Kyiv Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International and the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation. The delegation of six media professionals included Oksana Poluliakh (StopFake), Maksym Skubenko (VoxUkraine), Artem Skrypnyk (Reanimation Package of Reforms), Viktoria Yermolaieva (Hromadske Radio) and Maria Zhdanova (Vogue UA, StopFake and Mohyla School of Journalism), accompanied by Alina Mosendz (StopFake), a bicultural facilitator and journalist from Ukraine. Prior to their arrival in Chicago, delegates completed an orientation in Washington on Capitol Hill. In Chicago, delegates collaborated on best practices for media literacy and countering false information with seasoned journalists, media professionals and experts involved in the sphere of communications and government to see how they expose false reporting/information and search for objectivity.
TORONTO – In mid-September, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij traveled on working visits to Washington, where he met with high-ranking government officials and addressed a reception on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine, and to New York, where he addressed a strategic session on Ukraine of the Atlantic Council, attended the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards dinner and discussed current Ukrainian issues during meetings with high-ranking officials at the United Nations. During his meetings with officials in Washington on September 12, the UWC president called for the U.S. to continue demonstrating strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity by supplying military assistance to Ukraine and increasing sanctions against the Russian Federation so as to ensure that Ukraine overcomes Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. He had meetings at the Department of State and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In addition, Mr. Czolij raised the importance of providing Ukraine with a Marshall Plan-type program to enable it to deal with the devastation resulting from Russian aggression and continue with much-needed reforms. He also discussed a U.N. peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine and an OSCE monitoring mission in Crimea. The UWC president also met with the Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze and Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly to discuss recent developments in Ukraine, the continued European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and the upcoming UWC conferences in New York and Brussels.