On October 30, Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 criminal charges, among them conspiracy against the United States, failure to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and money laundering. Both men have pleaded not guilty. What makes this case most interesting to our readers is that the FARA charges are related to Mr. Manafort’s work when he represented the interests of the odious Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies. The indictment was the result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. Mr. Manafort, readers will recall, at one time served as campaign manager for Donald Trump. In particular, he was the campaign’s manager at the time of the Republican Party convention.
The following is a guest editorial by Anisa Mycak, a freelance writer and former columnist of The Ukrainian Weekly. Ms. Mycak’s news story headlined “Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford marks 80th anniversary” appeared on the front page of our October 22 issue.
In the Ukrainian American community, whose roots in the United States extend back into the late 1800s, the 80th anniversary of one of its venerable cultural institutions is cause for celebration, not just by its own members, but by the community as a whole. Thus, it is with interest and reflection that we have been following the recent 80th anniversary celebration of the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford, both for what it tells us about this particular institution and for what it tells us about the state of affairs of many other cultural institutions in our community today.
Back in August of last year, Dr. Ulana Suprun was appointed Ukraine’s acting minister of health. This Ukrainian American physician was well-known to our readers, foremost as the person behind Patriot Defence, the organization that has provided combat lifesaver training to Ukraine’s soldiers and NATO-standard individual first aid kits for the battlefield. She hit the ground running and soon proclaimed her revamped ministry’s intention to reform Ukraine’s Soviet-era health care system. On October 19, acting Minister Suprun scored a major victory when the Verkhovna Rada, with 240 votes for, approved a comprehensive health care package that promises to advance the health of Ukraine’s people and improve how the health care system operates. It’s also a reform that is seen by the West as further evidence of Ukraine’s movement toward the European Union and away from Russia.
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.
On September 5 Ukraine’s Parliament, by a vote of 255 for and 20 against, passed a new law on education, and on September 25 President Petro Poroshenko signed the law. Among its provisions is one that has generated some controversy: the mandate that Ukrainian be the language of instruction in Ukraine’s schools beginning in the fifth grade. Three of Ukraine’s neighbors, Russia, Hungary and Romania, seized on that provision to argue that the law is discriminatory and adversely affects the national minorities in Ukraine who speak their languages. Russia went as far as calling the new law “ethnocide” of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, Hungary has asked the European Union to review its Association Agreement with Ukraine, and the Romanian president cancelled a scheduled trip to Kyiv in protest. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry sent the law on education for review to the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe that comprises independent experts in constitutional law.
Back in 1967, The Ukrainian Weekly carried this banner headline: “World Congress Turns into Inspiring Demonstration of Unity and Steadfast Dedication to the Cause of Ukraine’s Freedom.” A multi-tiered subhead followed: “Week of Sessions Concludes with Proclamation of Manifestos, Resolutions; Msgr. Kushnir Elected to Head Permanent Secretariat; Freedom Rally Is Huge Success, Thousands March in Demonstrations at U.N., Soviet Mission; Speakers Hail Indomitable Spirit of Ukrainian People; 1,003 Delegates Attend.”
Yes, it was quite the headline. But it was also quite the event! A total of 1,003 delegates attended the first World Congress of Free Ukrainians, and related activities, held on November 12-19, 1967, in New York City. They represented 17 countries beyond the borders of Ukraine where some 3 million Ukrainians lived.
In just a few days, this newspaper will be 84 years old. In its first issue, dated October 6, 1933, it was underlined that the new publication would be geared to the new generation of Ukrainians born and raised here in North America and would strive to keep them engaged in the Ukrainian community. The English-language newspaper was also meant to be used to tell the English-speaking world around us about our ancestral homeland – most importantly at the time of its founding, about the genocidal famine, the Holodomor, that ultimately killed millions in Ukraine. Now, nearly eight and a half decades later, The Ukrainian Weekly can say that it has faithfully and proudly served several generations of readers in our community. The National Newspaper Association – a trade association whose mission is “to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers” – notes: “the distinguishing characteristic of a community newspaper is its commitment to serving the information needs of a particular community.” That community, the NNA explains, “is defined by the community’s members and a shared sense of belonging.
On September 20, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine made his case, again, for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Ukraine’s war-torn east. The key word here is “again.” Mr. Poroshenko had suggested the use of U.N. peacekeepers in the region back in March of 2015, sending an official request to the U.N. secretary general and the president of the U.N. Security Council. But Russia has repeatedly blocked consideration of the Ukrainian proposal. Then, on September 5, President Vladimir Putin called for the deployment of peacekeepers to protect observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who have been monitoring the war in the Donbas. Certain quarters hailed that as some sort of breakthrough – that is, before they read the fine print.
In August, Ukraine solemnly marked the third anniversary of the battle of Ilovaisk, which took place on August 7-September 2, 2014. It was the bloodiest battle of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. The battle for this strategically important city located between Donetsk and Luhansk was aimed at cutting off supply lines between the two cities held by Russian-backed insurgents. Ukrainian government forces were on the move during the summer of 2014 and were successfully retaking areas that had not been under Ukraine’s control. They entered Ilovaisk on August 18, and battles in the streets ensued; there were reports that the city was now under government control.
Back in October 1998, “The Year 2020 Conference” attempted to answer such questions as: Does an independent Ukraine enrich and invigorate the diaspora, or undermine its raison d’être? Will the “Fourth Wave” of immigrants from Ukraine play a key role in our community’s future? Are the futures of the Ukrainian Canadian and Ukrainian American communities connected, or will their paths diverge due to different circumstances? And, ultimately, will our community survive? The conference came to be as a direct result of a panel discussion during The Washington Group’s 1997 Leadership Conference at which Dr. Bohdan Vitvitsky noted: “Our parents were involuntary ethnics, …but we have a choice: we can assimilate.