UCU President Bishop Borys Gudziak and Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine Dr. Ulana Suprun were the main speakers at the November 5 fund-raiser for the Ukrainian Catholic University held in New York.

Chicago and New York events raise more than $500,000 for UCU

CHICAGO – Recent events in Chicago and New York City together raised more than half a million dollars for Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU). Both the spiritual and the secular were emphasized at the events: Bishop Borys Gudziak, president of UCU, shared the New York program with Michigan-born Dr. Ulana Suprun, acting minister of health of Ukraine, while Chicago’s audience greeted Bishop Benedict Aleksichuk and noted international business consultant Adrian Slywotzky. Chicago’s October 29 luncheon was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Bishop Benedict, a graduate of the UCU Lviv Business School and a former UCU senator (member of the board), gave the blessing and then spoke to the gathered supporters. Local friends of UCU also had an opportunity to meet other graduates and students and to see and hear about their accomplishments, starting with a brief video presentation, “Aspire to Greatness.” The film showed the results of the recently completed, seven-year Comprehensive Campaign, “A New Generation for a New Ukraine.” The fund-raising effort gathered donations from 15,000 contributors worldwide for a total of $67.1 million, which were used to build a new campus with four buildings, expand programs and faculty, increase scholarships and student enrollment, including an outreach effort to enroll students from throughout Ukraine, including a young woman, a Crimean Tatar, who was highlighted in the film.

Kyiv concerned Council of Europe might cave to Russian ‘blackmail’

KYIV – Ukrainian officials and politicians have reacted with alarm to reports that the Council of Europe is considering lifting sanctions imposed against Russia over its military intervention in Crimea out of fears that Moscow might otherwise leave the body. “We are extremely concerned,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), told RFE/RL from Strasbourg on November 27. “The issue now goes far beyond interests of Ukraine. It’s in the interests of the entire region to defend the Council of Europe from Russian blackmail and leaning toward Russia.”

Mr. Kuleba’s comments came after the Financial Times (FT) reported on November 26 that Moscow was demanding that its voting rights in PACE – which were revoked in 2014 in response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula – be restored, and that the secretary-general of the Council of Europe was lobbying in support of the idea. FT said Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland had been touring European capitals warning that Moscow could withdraw from the 47-member Council of Europe, which oversees the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), unless its demands were met.

UWC statement on the centennial of the Kurultai

The Ukrainian World Congress in December 9 extended its congratulations on the 100th anniversary of First Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar People. The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) congratulates Crimean Tatars on the 100th anniversary of the First Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar People, which proclaimed the Crimean People’s Republic, and adopted a Constitution and national symbolism. Despite the fact that, as a result of the brutal actions of Soviet authorities, the young Crimean People’s Republic was short-lived, the convening of the First Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar People remains a historic event of international consequence that testifies to the long-standing aspiration of the Crimean Tatar people for self-determination and establishes democratic traditions in the history of the Crimean Tatars. Today, Crimean Tatars once again suffer harsh pressure, repression and persecution by the occupying authorities of the Russian Federation. The criminal actions of the Russian Federation are forcing the Crimean Tatar people to defend the right to live freely on their own soil.

Coveting thy neighbor: Russia’s Kerch bridge enabling seizure of Ukrainian oil and gas

In the heat of the spring and summer of 2014, a full-scale Russian invasion to create a land bridge to recently annexed Crimea appeared overwhelmingly likely. Such a move by Russia never materialized, though fears of its imminent possibility continued to crop up as violence and tensions along the Donbas frontline flared up periodically over the past several years (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, March 30). Yet, throughout this time, the Kremlin continued to seek to cement its hold on the Crimean peninsula. The long-dreamed-of Russian bridge to Crimea was seen as the solution, and planning began in March 2014 (TASS, April 21, 2016). The combined road-and-rail bridge that will link Russia proper with Crimea (whose only physical land connection is with Ukraine) is currently under construction.

…The United States recognizes that the war in Ukraine in which people are still dying every day must come to an end. We have repeatedly urged Russia to begin the path to peace by honoring its commitments under the Minsk agreements. Any resolution of the war that does not entail a fully independent, sovereign and territorially whole Ukraine is unacceptable. Russia chose to violate the sovereignty of the largest country in Europe. The United States and Europe have stood shoulder-to-shoulder since 2014 in confronting this Russian aggression with a coordinated sanctions policy.

Time for Kyiv to get real

Things in Ukraine are heating up, as reported by our Kyiv correspondent Mark Raczkiewycz, who says the unrest on Kyiv’s streets last weekend is something the capital has not seen since the Euro-Maidan – the Revolution of Dignity. This time, the demands are for Ukrainian authorities to get serious about the fight against corruption, with some calling for President Petro Poroshenko’s resignation or impeachment. (Yes, the Mikheil Saakashvili drama is connected to this political crisis, but we would argue it is not the main element.)

Mr. Poroshenko’s credentials as a reformer are being questioned since his administration is seen as hindering the establishment of an anti-corruption court. Furthermore, pro-presidential parliamentary factions have tried to create obstacles to the work of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and they have dismissed outspoken anti-graft activist Yegor Soboliev from his post as chairman of the parliamentary Anti-Corruption Committee

The reaction from the United States, the European Union and others was unequivocal. “It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

December 21, 2015

Two years ago, on December 21, 2015, Russia issued a warning to the European Union that any move to cancel the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline that would connect from Russia’s Baltic coast to Germany would only hurt Europe. “The sides have reached considerable progress in terms of legal, technical, economic and financial aspects of this agreement,” Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev said on that day in Brussels. “Failing to implement it now would be a shot in one’s foot from the side of whoever would want to do it,” he said.  “This is about Europe’s energy balance, safeguarding security of supplies, these are most important questions.”

The Nord Stream-2 project involves German and Dutch companies, as well as Russia’s Gazprom. The project fell into question during the previous week in December 2015 after Italy raised it as an issue during debate over extending Russian economic sanctions. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Berlin’s plans to turn Germany into a hub for the distribution of Russian gas through the project was intended to bypass Ukraine, and “left a dubious taste,” especially after a similar South Stream project that would have benefitted Italy was blocked by sanctions in 2014.

Detail of a Christmas card published by the Ukrainian National Association.

Christmas is a call directed to each one of us

Pastoral message of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy of the U.S.A. to our clergy, hieromonks and brothers, religious sisters, seminarians and beloved faithful. Christ is Born! The birth of Christ – the time when the Christian world becomes immersed, as if in a fairytale of its childhood: fancy sparkling garlands, glistening Christmas tree ornaments and the comfort of family festivities, with its familiar aroma of Holy Eve supper reminiscent of childhood and the excitement of waiting for gifts as children. At this time, it even seems to adults that the mystical joy of Christmas, almost here and now, is leading them to the Promised Land of comfort and fulfillment of all dreams. We would venture to say that Christmas, somehow in a mysterious, incomprehensible way, hands down to us the distant, gentle taste of Heaven. On a purely human level, Christmas, possibly as no other of our Christian feast days, manifests to us the essence of all our most profound aspirations, that is, to be part of a community, the community of a large family, sitting at the festive table of Our Heavenly Father.

The internal enemy

“The Internal Enemy” is the fitting title of a Helsinki Commission staff report on corruption in Ukraine. Recently, I joined Oksana Shulyar, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Ukraine to the United States, Anders Aslund of the Atlantic Council and Brian Dooley of Human Rights First as a speaker at a Helsinki Commission briefing on this critically important topic (https://www.csce.gov/international-impact/events/ukraines-fight-against-corruption). For this month’s column, I share an abbreviated version of my remarks, touching upon corruption’s historical legacy, its corrosive impact, recent developments and the U.S. response. Ukraine was in many respects starting from scratch in 1991 when it regained its independence. The Soviet legacy was incredibly devastating – the deaths of many millions in the genocidal Holodomor and World War II, the attempts to eradicate Ukraine’s national identity, including through the destruction of the intelligentsia and Russification.

At the solemn commemoration of the Holodomor on Parliament Hill, members of Parliament and Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada with Holodomor survivors Dr. Julia Woychyshyn and Halyna Zelem.

Holodomor commemorated on Parliament Hill

OTTAWA – On November 20, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada held a well-attended, solemn commemoration in Canada’s Parliament to mark the 84th anniversary of the genocidal Holodomor. In 1932-1933, the totalitarian Soviet regime of dictator Joseph Stalin sentenced the Ukrainian nation to death by starvation. Millions of children, women and men were condemned to death because of the Ukrainian people’s aspiration for independence, and their desire to speak their language and maintain their culture and traditions. The UCC welcomed Holodomor survivors Dr. Julia Woychyshyn and Halyna Zelem, who lit the ceremonial candle at the beginning of the ceremony on Parliament Hill. The master of ceremonies of the commemoration was Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj, chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group.

A Holodomor-Genocide billboard on the Heavenly Hundred Alley in Kyiv.

UCCLA helps to raise awareness of the Holodomor in Ukraine

OTTAWA – Furthering its mandate to educate the public about the genocidal Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine, known as the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA), working with the Free People movement in Ukraine, unveiled four bilingual billboards in Kyiv, reminding passers-by to ask themselves who perished, why and who was responsible. Commenting on this initiative the UCCLA’s chairman, Roman Zakaluzny, said: “The fourth Saturday of November is set aside in Ukraine and internationally as an annual day for remembering the many millions of Ukrainians starved to death during the Holodomor, in what was arguably one of the greatest genocides to befoul 20th century European history. We are particularly keen to demonstrate to the people of Ukraine how we have not forgotten who was responsible for this genocide. Nor do we forget that the perpetrators, their enablers and fellow travelers have not, and perhaps never will be, fully exposed and punished for what they did. Even so through our efforts we hallow the millions of victims and remind the living of why they must remain vigilant in defense of Ukraine.”

The panakhyda during the Holodomor commemoration.

Edmonton community remembers the Holodomor

EDMONTON, Alberta – Edmonton’s Ukrainian community joined communities around the world to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor with a solemn ceremony at City Hall. Attended by hundreds, the November 25 event also drew a large number of dignitaries. Orysia Boychuk, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Edmonton Branch, opened the commemoration and acknowledged everyone for demonstrating their support for Holodomor remembrance. Briefly recounting the events of the Holodomor, she reiterated why it is important to remember not only the victims of the Famine-Genocide but also the reasons and consequences of this horrific event in Ukraine’s history. The commemoration began with a panakhyda conducted by nearly 20 members of Edmonton’s Ukrainian clergy, including Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton and the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; and Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton.

At the Ukrainian Technological Society’s 47th annual dinner-dance (from left) are: Eugene Szestak, Mary Anne Szestak, Halyna Mykhailiv-Ciarallo, honoree Natalie A. Jaresko, George Honchar, Bonnie Reinhart, Nickolas C. Kotow and Judith Moses.

Ukrainian Technological Society presents Ukrainian of the Year Award to Natalie Jaresko

PITTSBURGH – The Ukrainian Technological Society of Pittsburgh held its 47th annual dinner-dance on Saturday, November 4, at The Club at Nevillewood in Pittsburgh and presented its 2017 Ukrainian of the Year Award to Natalie Ann Jaresko. The society’s Ukrainian of the Year Award recognizes individuals of local, national and international stature who have contributed to the Ukrainian community or Ukrainian scholarship, or who have demonstrated significant achievement, which brings recognition and prestige to the Ukrainian community. Ms. Jaresko was honored for her 25 plus years of successful management experience in government and business, and for perpetuating Ukrainian religious culture by her service to the Ukrainian Orthodox League. Prior to the evening’s ceremonies, Ms. Jaresko and her family had a chance to visit the students and teachers at the School of Ukrainian Studies of Pittsburgh at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, Pa., where they were welcomed by Principal Olexandra Korenovska. Ms. Jaresko viewed the students’ lessons, and explained to them, in both Ukrainian and English, what she did as the minister of finance of Ukraine in Ukraine.