The incoming administration

In less than two weeks from the date of this issue, the U.S. will inaugurate its new president. No one is quite sure what the administration of Donald J. Trump will bring. Among those are Ukrainian Americans who love both the United States and their ancestral homeland. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, there are serious concerns about whether the country will be abandoned to Russia’s sphere of influence. The succinct lead sentence in a story by David Stern published by Politico summed it up well: “Donald Trump’s victory leaves Ukraine alone and afraid.” There are objective reasons for that fear: readers surely recall candidate Trump’s comment that the war in Ukraine is “really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us,” as well as his suggestion that he might recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Good news at the end of the year

So here is it, the end of one year and the beginning of the next – so fittingly represented by this double issue dated December 25, 2016/January 1, 2017. Yes, dear readers, in your hands you are simultaneously holding the last issue of the year, and the first issue of the next year. It’s nice, at this point on the calendar, to have some good news to report about Ukraine after what was yet another tumultuous year. We are referring to the European Commission’s report on Ukraine (a story about that appeared on the front page of our previous issue), which cited “intense and unprecedented reforms.” The joint report released on December 13 by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, took a look at Ukraine’s implementation of the association agenda agreed upon by Ukraine and the EU. The summary to the report states: “In 2015 and 2016, Ukraine has undertaken intense and unprecedented reforms across a number of sectors of the economy and society, while its democratic institutions have been further revitalized.

Christmastime giving

Dear readers, are you done with your Christmas shopping? Have you taken care of everyone on your list? But what about your favorite charities and organizations? Have you taken care of them at this gift-giving time of year? There’s still time during the Christmas season – which for Ukrainians extends over two calendars, the Gregorian and the Julian – to help those in need and to support those deserving of our gratitude.

Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea

The following is a guest editorial by Orest Deychakiwsky, policy advisor, U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission). The text is adapted from his opening remarks at the commission’s November 10 briefing on “Ongoing Human Rights and Security Violations in Russian-Occupied Crimea.” 

With Russia’s ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine – where it continues to direct, arm and finance its separatist proxies – Russia continues to flout every single one of the core OSCE principles enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, including territorial integrity, inviolability of borders, sovereignty, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The situation in Crimea is bleak, and continues to deteriorate both from a democracy and human rights, as well as a security standpoint and other standpoints as well. The Russian occupying authorities persistently violate the rights of the Crimean people, first and foremost those who are perceived to oppose the illegal annexation. The Crimean Tatars have been especially targeted, as have been all those Ukrainians who do not remain silent in accepting Moscow’s rule. Examples abound.

The UNA General Assembly reports

The Ukrainian National Association recently held the annual meeting of its General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of that fraternal organization (which happens to be our publisher) between its quadrennial conventions. The story that begins on page 1 of this issue notes the most significant news and reports from the annual session, including the key piece of information about the notable increase in the UNA’s surplus and the good news that profits have been up for four straight years. But there is so much more to the reports presented in written and oral form by the organization’s executive officers, advisors and auditors. Allow us to share our reflections upon having read each and every one of them. First of all, it must be noted that, save for the three-in-house executive employees who are full-time employees of the UNA, everyone else on the General Assembly is a volunteer.

Post-election thoughts

Here we are just over three weeks after a U.S. election marked by controversy, contention and combativeness whose result was described by one TV news anchor as a “seismic shift.” Many questions remain about the direction of this country, as the new administration is a work in progress. At the same time, the anger throughout the land remains palpable after a very long and very hard-fought campaign that revealed, and caused, much divisiveness. And, we dare say, in many ways the 2016 election seemed to be even more difficult for our Ukrainian American community. This newspaper published disparate letters that supported Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – there was no unanimity on who would be best for the United States, and Ukraine, and the world. Social media were (and are) filled with nastiness and downright hostility.

Our solemn responsibility to remember

The following is a guest editorial by Andriy Futey, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. The text is adapted from his remarks at the Holodomor memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on November 12. It has become our tradition to gather each year within the sacred walls of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pray for and honor the memory of the millions of innocent victims lost in one of the worst tragedies that befell the Ukrainian nation – the Holodomor, the Genocide of 1932-1933.

Ukraine’s e-declarations

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian officials filed electronic declarations of their assets, meeting the midnight October 30 deadline that had been imposed. And, not only did officials have to declare their own assets but also those held in the names of their family members. . Thus, their incomes and assets became publicly available in a searchable online database. Given that the average monthly income in Ukraine is $200, the revelations of officials’ wealth – in many cases excessive wealth – was a bombshell.

Are you a user, or a partner?

It’s that time of year when our community activities are in full swing in our respective “hromady.” The kids are back in school, the scouts are at their meetings, the dancers are attending their lessons, our organizations are holding their regular meetings, sports teams are busy at practices… There are scores of activities and events taking place in our communities: festivals, anniversary celebrations, lectures, concerts, fund-raising events, conferences and more. Sometimes it’s hard to find some free time! These things don’t just happen on their own, magically appearing out of thin air. They are organized and supported by someone.

Ukraine’s physician

Back on July 24, this newspaper’s front page carried a story headlined “Ukrainian American radiologist tapped as Ukraine’s deputy minister of health.” Our new correspondent in Kyiv, Mark Raczkiewycz, reported that Dr. Ulana Suprun – whom most readers will remember as director of humanitarian initiatives for the Ukrainian World Congress and director of the organization Patriot Defence (which has provided combat lifesaver training to Ukraine’s soldiers and has distributed tens of thousands of NATO-standard individual first aid kits to those on the battlefield) – had taken on this challenging new assignment. Then, on August 1, came the announcement that Dr. Suprun was now Ukraine’s acting minister of health. The new leader of the Health Ministry continues to care about saving the lives of Ukraine’s troops. In August, there was news that Dr. Suprun had accepted U.S. government donations of the first batch of field litter ambulances to Ukraine’s armed forces. “The army is short of armored vehicles for fast evacuation of injured soldiers to the hospitals where they can be treated by professional doctors,” Dr. Suprun noted, while expressing hope that, working together with their American partners, Ukrainian armed forces will continue to focus on medical training.