Tanks roll on Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv during a military parade marking Ukraine’s 25th anniversary of independence.

Military parade in Kyiv marks 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence

KYIV – Perhaps the first Ukrainian city to hear the national anthem on Independence Day was Russia-occupied Donetsk. At about 6 a.m. hidden loud speakers started blaring the first words of the anthem, “Ukraine hasn’t perished yet.” The daring audio performance lasted about 30 minutes as startled passersby gazed in bewilderment at the central intersection of Artem and Tamansky boulevards, according to a closed-captioned video posted by Novosti Donbass, an independent news outlet based in the Donetsk Oblast city of Sloviansk. That defiance toward ceaseless Russian aggression was on full display along Kyiv’s main thoroughfare of Khreshchatyk Street on August 24 during the country’s 25th year of renewed independence. President Petro Poroshenko had ordered a military parade for a third consecutive year intended to underscore the nation’s military capability. But it was the first year that highlighted hardware rolled fresh off factory floors and newly designed uniforms, marking Ukraine’s efforts to shed its outdated Soviet past.

Poroshenko greets Ukraine on 25th anniversary in Kyiv

Dear Ukrainians,

Heroic Ukrainian troops,

Your Holiness and Your Beatitude,

Mister President Duda, highly-esteemed guests,

“In view of the mortal danger surrounding Ukraine in connection with the state coup in the USSR on August 19, 1991; continuing the thousand-year tradition of state development in Ukraine; proceeding from the right of the nation to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, … the Verkhovna Rada… solemnly declares the Independence of Ukraine and the creation of an independent Ukrainian state – Ukraine.”

These are the words from the most important document in the contemporary history of Ukraine adopted 25 years ago to the day. Thirty years earlier, Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced to death for fighting for the state independence. Later on, he was “pardoned” (in quotes) and spent a decade in Soviet jails, concentration camps and exile. However, I am sure Levko Lukyanenko could not have been happier and could not have even dreamt of getting larger compensation and award for all his life sufferings than the opportunity to draft the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. We enjoy an occasion to think again of the role of personality in history.

Saber fencer Olha Kharlan serves as flag-bearer for Ukraine during the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ukraine wins 11 medals at Rio, finishes in 22 place in medals count

The United States led the way with 121 medals won at the 2016 Rio Olympics. China (70), Great Britain (67) and Russia (56) rounded out the top four. Next were Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Italy. Ukraine ranked 22nd out of 207 participating nations, finishing amid countries like Poland, Jamaica, Cuba and Uzbekistan. This year’s total of 11 medals (two gold, five silver and four bronze) is down from 2012’s haul of 18, 2008’s total of 27 medals and 2004’s sum of 22 medals.

For Vladimir Putin, diplomacy is a form of ‘information terrorism,’ says commentator

Vladimir Putin’s attempt to impose a longtime Kremlin loyalist as his ambassador to Ukraine, something Kyiv has rejected and prompted Moscow to say that it won’t appoint anyone else, highlights the Kremlin leader’s view of what diplomats are for, Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko says. For Mr. Putin, Mr. Yakovenko says, diplomats are not those who succeed by finding points of agreement among countries and thus minimize or avoid conflict but rather foot soldiers engaged in his war against other states whose job is to recruit allies within those states and misinform the world about what Russia is doing (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57A6415100DBD). By ignoring the customary practice of seeking agrement before announcing its preferred ambassador in Kyiv, Moscow sought to force Ukraine to accept Mikhail Babich, someone who has never had any involvement with diplomacy and can only be described as “an ambassador of war.”

Already twenty years ago, Babich figured out that “the most profitable business” in Russia is “love for Putin. And he began to involve himself in this in a professional way.” Not surprisingly, “such devotion and unqualified love have not remained unnoticed,” and Babich has received progressively more important assignments – none of which are about diplomacy. As Mr. Yakovenko points out, “diplomacy in international relations is the art of conducting talks with the goal of avoiding war.

Statement by President Barack Obama on the 25th Anniversary of Ukrainian Independence

Twenty-five years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. On behalf of the American people, I’m proud to join the Ukrainian people in marking this historic anniversary. As we have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine’s path has not always been easy.  From the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who linked arms in a great human chain in 1990 to the fallen heroes of the Maidan, realizing the dream of independence has called on the solidarity and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people. The people of the United States, including proud Ukrainian Americans, have been honored to

partner with Ukraine on this journey. Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, embrace the vision of a strong and united Europe, and deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights.

Ukraine shows evidence of secret payments allegedly made to Paul Manafort

KYIV – Ukrainian authorities have published excerpts from secret accounting ledgers of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s political party documenting more than $12.7 million in under-the-table payments that were earmarked for Paul Manafort, who chaired U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign until his resignation on August 19. Some of the 22 line items posted on the website of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) show payments of more than $1 million for Mr. Manafort’s “services,” while others describe the payments as being for “Manafort exit poll in real time,” “personal computers for Manafort” and simply “sociology” – possibly a reference to opinion surveys. The handwritten entries span nearly five years, from November 20, 2007, to October 5, 2012, when Mr. Manafort was working for Mr. Yanukovych’s ruling Party of Regions in Kyiv. Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia in 2014, after being pushed from power by protests over his decision to scrap plans for a landmark cooperation pact with the European Union and forge closer ties to Moscow instead. Mr. Manafort has come under fire over the revelations, first reported by The New York Times on August 14.

The new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch (fourth from left), meets with a delegation of Ukrainian American leaders (from left): Andrij Futey, Roksolana Stojko-Lozynskyj, Tamara Olexy, Archbishop Stefan Soroka, Marie Duplak, Bishop Daniel and Michael Sawkiw Jr.

UCCA meets with newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

NEW YORK – Executive Board members of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, together with Bishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. and Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, met on August 8 with the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Following her warm words of welcome, Ambassador Yovanovitch briefly commented on her Foreign Service experience, as well as her personal background, stating that she was born in Canada to Russian immigrants. She also mentioned that, prior to her appointment as the next U.S. envoy to Ukraine, she’d preferred not to be posted overseas. However, given the current crisis in Ukraine, she felt it was her duty to assist the Ukrainian people. Following her introductory remarks, Ambassador Yovanovitch thanked the Ukrainian American community for its years of commitment to supporting Ukraine and expressed her desire to work closely with the community.

“Observers have greatly feared that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would start a small regional war this August. … “The parallels with the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war are striking. That conflict started with the Olympic games in Beijing. The United States president was a lame duck amid the presidential election campaign.

“Guide to Life” released by the Ukrainian National Association.

In time for Life Insurance Awareness Month, the UNA offers a “Guide to Life”

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – In time for Life Insurance Awareness Month in September, the Ukrainian National Association is offering an informative publication, “Guide to Life,” that not only provides facts and figures about the UNA, UNA products and UNA benefits, but also provides concise explanations of insurance products and their value in establishing financial well-being. In the guide, each UNA life insurance product is featured on a two-page spread that includes descriptions in Ukrainian and English, as well as a user-friendly rate chart. Readers will be able to easily calculate premiums for each UNA product. And since the UNA has received numerous requests for bilingual product descriptions, these can be especially valuable. According to recent studies by the life insurance industry, more than 40 percent of those surveyed believe they need, or could benefit from, life insurance, but have not bought it, or bought more of it, because they are unsure of how much or what type to buy.

Mendacity epitomized

Seems it all started on or about August 10. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of plotting a terrorist attack on Crimea and cited a purported confrontation with two Ukrainian “saboteurs” that resulted in the deaths of two Russian servicemen. “There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” Mr. Putin said on state television, according to The New York Times. “But I would like to turn to our American and European partners. I think it is clear now that today’s Kyiv government is not looking for ways to solve problems by negotiations, but is resorting to terror.

August 31, 2015

Last year, on August 31, 2015, violence erupted outside of Ukraine’s Parliament that left three National Guardsmen killed (Ihor Debrin, 24; Oleksandr Kostyna, 20; and Dmytro Slastnikov, 21) and more than 130 people injured after a grenade was thrown by an ultranationalist protester from the Svoboda party. The violence marred a public protest against legislation that proposed granting more autonomy for the Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine. Svoboda and the Right Sector parties put the blame on President Petro Poroshenko, with Svoboda issuing a statement that “the responsibility for the attack near the Parliament lies with the current government,” and that the explosion was “a preplanned provocation against Ukrainian patriots.”

Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadskyi told 112 Ukraine TV, “this is exactly the same thing that happened during the regime of [former President Viktor] Yanukovych – the use of force, the violent dispersal of peaceful protests, beating the opposition, and so on.”

Despite the role that ultranationalists played during the Euro-Maidan revolt that forced Mr. Yanukovych from power, voters soundly rejected the ultranationalists during the May 2014 presidential election and the November 2014 parliamentary elections. Mr. Poroshenko called the violence “a stab in the back” for the entire country. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk elaborated further, “The cynicism of this crime lies in the fact while the Russian Federation and its bandits are trying and failing to destroy the Ukrainian state on the eastern front, the so-called pro-Ukrainian political forces are trying to open another front in the heart of the country.”

Following an investigation, 18 people, including the alleged grenade thrower, were arrested, however, critics argued that this would not be an adequate response to the ultranationalist threat.

Americans finally beginning to recognize how odious Putin really is, says commentator

August, the month of vacations, is often referred to as the silly season in the media; but this year, something important is happening in the American media: its leading outlets are finally focusing on what most in Russia and its neighbors have long understood: Vladimir Putin has gone from strength to strength by odious means. In the last few weeks, Moscow commentator Aleksandr Nemets says, the leading media in the United States – Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post – and London’s Economist as well, have focused on Mr. Putin’s odious methods because of his backing of Donald Trump in the American election (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57A704084EE38). After all the scandalous things Mr. Putin has done in the past and largely gotten away with, opposition to the Republican candidate is so strong that it is causing these outlets to focus on Mr. Putin’s involvement with the U.S. elections, an involvement that not only doesn’t appear to be helping Mr. Trump – his numbers are down – but is clearly hurting Mr. Putin as well. In short, after all his crimes – including the invasion of Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the murder of dissenters at home and abroad, and his destruction of Russian democracy – Mr. Putin may now be held accountable in the U.S. for what he is more generally because he is trying to affect the election there. If that is the case, it would certainly represent, although Mr. Nemets himself doesn’t use the term, a real and most unwelcome August surprise for the Kremlin leader.

The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933: Another attempt at counting the victims

Volodymyr Serhiychuk is a professor of history at the Kyiv State University and one of the more eminent researchers in Soviet archives. In terms of publishing his findings, he is perhaps the most prolific of the researchers. One of the topics of his expertise is the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. For a long time he simply accepted the number of victims estimated by historians in the West. When the 7 million number was challenged in recent publications both in Ukraine and the West, Prof. Serhiychuk decided to conduct his own research to establish, as well as reasonably possible – given the Soviet’s propensity for distortion, the number of Ukrainian Famine victims. In the course of researching archives and familiarizing himself with the research and findings of others, he has determined that there are serious flaws in some of the recent conclusions, particularly those diminishing the number of victims.

The city of Kharkiv was the initial capital of the Ukrainian SSR. It was the capital during the Famine years of 1932-1933.

The Ukrainian Pionee Mass Grave Site near Olha, Manitoba.

Visiting Ukrainian Canadian history

If it hadn’t been for Henry Kostiuk, we would have still been roving the tree-lined gravel roads around Olha, Manitoba. For a day trip, my husband, Myroslaw, and I decided to visit Olha, where there is a mass grave and monument to over 40 Ukrainian children and three adults who succumbed to scarlet fever just after arriving on the Canadian prairies. This is a Manitoba Municipal Heritage Site (No. 45). We knew we were going in the correct direction when the road sign at one intersection read “Olha Road/Shevchenko Street.” Again, perfectly normal for the Canadian Prairies.

Community leaders share their thoughts on Ukraine at 25

As 2016 is a particularly significant year for Ukraine, marking the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of the country’s independence, The Ukrainian Weekly approached several community leaders in the United States, Canada and Australia, as well as the Ukrainian World Congress and asked them to share their thoughts on Ukraine. Following are their responses. Paul Grod, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress:
Canada is at the forefront of international support for Ukraine. Ukraine’s 25 years of independence has been continuously challenged by both foreign and domestic foes. On its path to building a democratic, secure and prosperous Ukraine, a critical role has been played by the Ukrainian diaspora led by the Ukrainian World Congress and its constituent organizations.