The University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, which will be consecrated on September 11.

2016: Our Ukrainian Churches at a time of war in Ukraine

The year 2016 for Ukrainian Churches was a busy one, and complicated by the ongoing war being waged by Russia. But there were notable accomplishments and attempts at healing spiritual disunity – not only between the Catholics and the Orthodox – but also between the meddling of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) via the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and the divisions that have fractured the other Orthodox Churches in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). The ROC and its affiliated UOC-MP announced in January the establishment of a new staff in the synod department of external church affairs to blacken the reputation of the UOC-KP, to block the Ecumenical Patriarchate from recognizing the Kyiv Church as canonical and to destabilize religious conditions across Ukraine. This move was seen by many experts as part of the hybrid war that Russia is waging against Ukraine and the West. This was the latest attempt using religious groups in Ukraine in filing complaints with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of religious intolerance in Ukraine and giving Moscow a degree of deniability.  Many of these “religious groups” are fronts for Russian Security Services (FSB) operations.

Participants of the annual general meeting of the Ukrainian World Congress held in Kyiv.

2016: Our Ukrainian diaspora: unity around the globe

Unity was the key word for 2016 in our Ukrainian diaspora. On February 20, Ukraine’s Day of Commemoration of the Heroes of the Heavenly Brigade, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress spoke for Ukrainians worldwide when it said:

“Today, the Ukrainian Canadian community joins our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and around the world in commemorating the memory and heroism of all those who paid the ultimate price in the battle for a free and democratic Ukraine. From November 2013 to February 2014 the citizens of Ukraine took to the streets to protest against the corrupt, authoritarian regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych. On the Maidan in Kyiv (Independence Square), and on city squares throughout the country, the people of Ukraine claimed their unalienable right to liberty and justice. Their demand of their government was simple – to be treated with Dignity.

At a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (from left) are: Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko, Verkhovna Rada First Vice-Chairman Andriy Parubiy, Mr. Trudeau and Member of the Parliament of Canada Borys Wrzesnewskyj.

2016: Canada: marking 125 years of Ukrainian settlement

While 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, 2016 was the year Ukrainians in Canada celebrated the 125th anniversary of their immigration to the country – and Saskatchewan kicked the year off on January 5 when the province’s premier, Brad Wall, officially proclaimed 2016 as the Year of Saskatchewan Ukrainians, who comprise 13 percent of the provincial population. Two months later, on March 10, Manitoba followed suit with its own proclamation, which recognized the contribution Ukrainian Manitobans have made to the province, “initially through agriculture, forestry, railways and mining and, presently, in most professional fields of the workplace,” and in the creation and promotion of multiculturalism across Canada. Then-Premier Greg Selinger designated 2016 the Year of Manitoba’s Ukrainian Canadian Cultural Heritage through the proclamation, which also noted the provincial capital, Winnipeg, as “the first major urban center of Ukrainian Canadians, where many of the earliest religious cultural institutions were founded, including the Canada-wide coordinating body known as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, established 75 years ago,” and as “the first city outside of Ukraine to dedicate a statue honoring the bard and freedom fighter of Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko, built on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress [UCC].”

2016 also marked the 55th anniversary of the Ukrainian education program in Manitoba, which was taught in the early decades until it was disallowed in 1916 and later reinstated in 1961, according to the proclamation, which highlighted three Ukrainian Manitoban institutions established at the University of Manitoba: St. Andrew’s College in 1946, Ukrainian Studies in the Department of German and Slavic Studies in 1949, and the Center for Ukrainian Canadian Studies in 1981. The 125th anniversary celebrations continued through the year, with the July 21 launch of an exhibit – “Journey to Canada: Ukrainian Immigration Experiences 1891-1900” – at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The scene at Independence Square, the Maidan, in Kyiv for celebrations on August 24 of the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of Ukraine’s independence.

2016: In Ukraine: economic hardship and Russian hybrid warfare

Ukraine endured another year of economic hardship and unprovoked Russian hybrid warfare on all fronts while a third post-Maidan government was installed amid political turmoil in another attempt to deliver the promises of democratic transformation espoused by the revolution of 2014. 2016 was also the year Ukraine marked the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of its independence on August 24, 1991, and Ukraine saw many reasons to celebrate. A grand military parade was held on Kyiv’s main thoroughfare, the Khreshchatyk, as an expression of defiance toward ceaseless Russian aggression. 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.

KYIV – President Petro Poroshenko on August 30 accepted a letter of credence from the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch. He congratulated Ambassador Yovanovitch on the beginning of her mission to Ukraine, noting that he relies on her previous experience of work in Kyiv in 2001-2005. Mr. Poroshenko also expressed gratitude to the United States for political, financial and military-technical assistance in Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression. “We count on further efficient cooperation,” the president added. In turn, the new envoy said she was planning to preserve and enhance that support. “In the last two years, Ukraine has achieved significant progress. And now we have great opportunities to continue these changes. The U.S. is a reliable friend and supports Ukraine and its reforms,” Ambassador Yovanovitch stated.

2016: In U.S.-Ukraine relations: concerns about war, corruption

Questionable words uttered by President Barack Obama put Ukraine in the news in the United States at the beginning of the year. In his State of the Union address on January 12, speaking about threats faced by the U.S. and the world, Mr. Obama said: “Even as their economy severely contracts, Russia is pouring resources in to prop up Ukraine and Syria – client states they saw slipping away from their orbit.” According to various news media reports, apparently the word “client” was a departure from the president’s prepared text, which referred to “states,” not “client states.”

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America reacted with a statement released on January 13, noting, “In his final State of the Union address, President Obama got it wrong when it came to Ukraine. … When it came time to mention Ukraine, a long-time strategic partner of the United States, President Obama once again demonstrated a shocking ignorance of foreign policy hotspots in his biggest address to the nation.” The UCCA said it was “outraged by the description of Ukraine used in the State of the Union address. To be clear, Russia is not propping up Ukraine; the Russian Federation is destabilizing Ukraine. Nor did Ukraine ‘slip away from Russia’s orbit’; the people of Ukraine made up their own minds with regards to national policy, including their open and democratic decision to demand basic human rights, journalistic and economic freedoms and closer integration with Europe during the Revolution of Dignity.”

And reactions came from other observers as well.

August 11, 2015

Last year, on August 11, 2015, Andrey Piontkovsky told Kyiv’s Channel 5 that the situation in the Kremlin is now “close to panic” because “the new Western sanctions hits in the first instance the Russian hierarchy” and ordinary Russians are angry about price rises that had been prompted by President Vladimir Putin’s countersanctions. Paul Goble of the Jamestown Foundation in his analysis noted Mr. Putin’s increasingly erratic and apparently self-destructive actions, including his decisions to burn embargoed food at the border and to block any opposition candidates in regional elections. These signs, analysts said, suggested that Mr. Putin was acting out of fear for his position. This fear, Mr. Piontkovsky added, is evidenced by the fact that “even [government] propaganda is not supporting the destruction of foodstuffs very actively.” That is because people would be offended. And consequently, as Mr. Putin himself suggested, those around him are increasingly thinking about removing him if they cannot change his direction.

The first page of  Part 1 of “2014: The Year in Review” as it appeared in our January 18 issue.

2015: Meanwhile, here at The Ukrainian Weekly…

What can we say about the year 2015 at The Weekly? We at The Weekly soldiered on and tried our best to keep up with all the news and, in turn, keep our dear subscribers informed. As well, we strove to keep our readers, and therefore our communities, in touch with each other. The biggest news for The Weekly itself was our newly redesigned website – same address (www.ukrweekly.com), new look and functionality – that was unveiled in June. This was accomplished thanks to the truly Herculean efforts of our webmaster and tech guru, Ihor Pylypchuk.

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2015: Our community mourns their passing

During 2014 our community mourned the passing of many of its prominent members: musicians, scholars, artists, community activists, human rights activists, journalists and others. Among them were the following, listed in the order of their passing. Andriy Kuzmenko (“Kuzma”), 47, hugely popular singer in Ukraine who was also politically active and had most recently played a benefit concert to raise funds for the Ukrainian military, lead singer of the group Skryabin, killed in a car crash – February 2. John S. Reshetar, 90, professor emeritus of political science a the University of Washington in Seattle since 1989, after four decades as a faculty member at that university and others; author of the landmark book “The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917-1920” and other works – February 7. Bohdan Tytla, 87, well-known and highly respected artist – February 17.

Mustafa Nayyem, the recipient of the 2014 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award (left), answers questions after his presentation about “Ukrainian Democracy after the Maidan: Threats and Opportunities.” Seated next to him is Christian Osterman, director of the Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program.

2015: The noteworthy: People and events

This section features the noteworthy events and people of 2015 that defy easy classification (or could fit under more than one of our Year in Review categories). • Bishop Borys Gudziak, who is based in Paris and serves as bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Switzerland, was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor. The order was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest decoration in France. It is awarded to those who “have served France or the ideals it upholds,” and seldom presented to a non-French national. The president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Bishop Gudziak is globally recognized for his scholarly achievements and pastoral inspiration and has helped make the university an exemplary educational institution.

First prize in the portrait category in the Picture of the Year International 2015 contest was won by Alexey Furman for this photo (foreground).

2015: Culture and the arts in all its expressions

The year 2015 witnessed the celebration of three important and distinguished diaspora luminaries: graphic artist Jacques Hnizdovsky, linguist and scholar Yuri Shevelov and painter Zenowij Onyshkewych. Ukrainian artists, musicians and performing groups grew in number and travelled across oceans to garner new audiences and advance Ukrainian art and culture. At the same time, organized protests against Russian musicians who publicly promoted Vladimir Putin’s aggression spread throughout many cities in the North America. Throughout 2015, the Russian invasion and annexation of Ukrainian territory continued to have a profound effect on the cultural and artistic life of Ukrainians. Centuries-old art held hostage

On April 8, Amsterdam’s district court ruled that Ukraine was eligible to claim rights to the Scythian gold artifacts from an exhibition sent out before the Russian invasion of Crimea, Among the items on loan were 565 rare treasures from Crimean museums, which remain in boxes in a storage facility awaiting a court decision about where they should be shipped.