Thirty-one years ago, following the nuclear disaster at Chornobyl on April 26, 1986, the Kremlin showed weakness in the way news of the disaster was initially withheld from the public. “The nuclear disaster at Chornobyl has major implications and undermines the credibility of the Gorbachev regime” both domestically and internationally, said Prof. Bohdan Bociurkiw. The extraordinary Soviet effort to restrict information about the nuclear accident flies in the face of promises of openness made by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev during the 27th Soviet Party Congress, Dr. Bociurkiw explained. In his speech to the congress, Mr. Gorbachev said, “Extensive, timely and frank information is evidence of trust in the people, respect for their intelligence and feelings and of their kind ability to understand events of one kind or another on their own.”
Dr. Bociurkiw said that this latest move would sour relations with Moscow’s neighbors. In the past, he said, the Soviet coverage of the 1965 earthquake in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, lied to people by saying that only four fatalities had resulted when in fact more than 8,000 people had died from the earthquake.
A survey of Crimean residents that was conducted on April 11, 2011, showed that 71.3 percent of respondents considered Ukraine their homeland. This was up from the 2008 rating of 32 percent. However, even at 71.3 percent, it was still lower than the average of 93 percent across Ukraine. The survey was conducted on February 21 through March 14 in Crimea and Sevastopol by the Razumkov Center and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The margin of error did not exceed 2.3 percent.
Two years ago, on April 9, 2015, Ukraine’s Parliament approved a series of historic bills that took unprecedented decisive steps to part with the country’s Soviet legacy. One of the bills recognizes on the state level all those who fought for Ukrainian independence in the 20th century, most notably the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) that was launched in 1943 to fight both the Nazis and the Soviet Red Army. The bill, titled, “On the Legal Status and Honoring the Memory of Fighters for Ukrainian Independence in the 20th Century,” includes the UPA, the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, the Ukrainian National Republic, government bodies of Carpatho-Ukraine, the Ukrainian Helsinki Union and dozens of others. The bill attracted 271 votes (45 more than was necessary for passage). Yurii Shukhevych, the son of legendary UPA commander Roman Shukhevych and a member of the Radical Party headed by Oleh Liashko, was the author and sponsor of the bill.
Fifty years ago, Archbishop Mstyslav, president of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., wrote an open letter that appeared in the April 5, 1967, issue of The New York Times. The letter, addressed to the editor of Radianska Ukraina in Kyiv, accused the central government of the Soviet Union of complicity in the case of former Nazi Reichskommissar Erich Koch. Archbishop Mstyslav said that he was publishing the article in English “to make certain that the message of my letter reaches” the editor of Radianska Ukraina. A Ukrainian-language version of the letter was sent directly to the newspaper’s office in Kyiv. A story carried on February 26, 1967, by Radianska Ukraina prompted the letter by the archbishop.
Sixty-six years ago, on April 2, 1951, The Ukrainian Weekly wrote about Russian imperialist propaganda and American Russian advisors. The article cited four varieties of propaganda based on anti-Communist Russian imperialism – the extreme right monarchists, Russian Social-Democrats, Mensheviks and Russian nationalists. In the first few months of 1951, through the American press, radio and other media, as well as university chairs and scholarly publications, there was an observed increase in the message of Russian imperialism, The Weekly noted. “In this vociferous clamor to preserve ‘Holy Mother Russia,’ we see almost every Russian political group and party, such as the extreme rightist Monarchists, who dream of the return of Czardom, and the moderate Russian Social Democrats who, while championing self-determination of the Asiatic peoples, are against the self-determination of the non-Russian peoples, enslaved by Moscow. […] Russian Nationalists… planned to erect a Russian nationalist empire modeled upon that of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Thirty years ago, on March 24, 1987, Drs. Harold Visotsky and Friedrich Weinberger, co-founders of the International Association on Political Use of Psychiatry, discussed the abuse of psychiatry with members of the Soviet delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The meeting in Vienna was a continuation of reviewing compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Dr. Visotsky, in a statement released at the meeting, said: “We call upon General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to end this abhorrent practice in the USSR and to have an independent investigation of all cases of psychiatric patients who have been interned because of political implications. The people we know are people who had an advocate, an alarm bell.
Last year, on March 16, 2016, John Kirby of the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Spokesperson released a statement on the second anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The U.S. statement noted:
“Today, as Russia’s occupation of Crimea enters its third year, we affirm our commitment to a united, sovereign Ukraine. The United States does not recognize Russia’s ‘referendum’ of March 16, 2014, or its attempted annexation of Crimea, which violated international law. “We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Russian-occupied Crimea, where occupation ‘authorities’ suppress dissent and where ethnic and religious minorities – especially Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians – face serious and ongoing repression. Non-governmental organizations and independent media are still being silenced or driven out, and international observers are still denied access to the peninsula.
Thirty-five years ago, on March 10, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating March 21, 1982, as Afghanistan Day. An editorial in The Weekly at the time of the announcement stated: “…He [Mr. Reagan] was doing more than taking a measured swipe at Soviet aggression and reiterating American support for the cause of Afghan freedom fighters, who have been waging a valiant guerrilla struggle since the Soviet invasion [of Afghanistan] in 1979. Shrewdly, the Soviets seem to plan their moves to coincide with an ongoing international crisis, or create their own diversions to draw the world’s attention away from their global machinations.”
The editorial noted that the Soviets invaded Afghanistan just two months after Iran took American citizens hostage and that leftist guerrillas in El Salvador increased their offensive shortly after martial law was imposed in Poland. “Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Deputy Secretary of State Walter Stoessel said that the administration has proof that Soviet forces are using chemical and biological weapons against Afghanistan’s civilian population. According to intelligence reports, 3,042 civilians died horribly after being exposed to mycotoxins similar to the ‘yellow rain’ used by Vietnam, a Moscow satrap, against the fiercely independent Montagnard tribesmen.
Five years ago, on February 27, 2012, security forces in Russia and Ukraine announced that they had thwarted a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Russian state-run television Channel 1 alleged that the plot was to be carried out shortly after Russia’s presidential election on March 4. In the report, separate footage showed two alleged plotters saying they were ordered by North Caucasus insurgent commander Doku Umarov to kill Mr. Putin. The Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying the plot was uncovered after Ukrainian intelligence agents detained two Russian citizens in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa early in February in connection with an accidental bomb blast in the city in January. One of the videos, provided by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), showed suspect Illya Pyanzin, a 28-year-old Kazakh citizen, who had traveled to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates with a Russian national, an accomplice who was later killed in the accidental bomb blast.
Three years ago, on February 21, 2014, after three months of peaceful protest that turned into a bloody battle, the Revolution of Dignity forced former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and his entourage to abandon their Ukrainian government posts and flee the country, fearing inevitable criminal prosecution. Within hours of Mr. Yanukovych stepping down, special forces and internal army soldiers abandoned their posts in Kyiv’s central streets and at the Presidential Administration by the busloads. More than 35 buses had departed by mid-afternoon on February 21, 2014. Later that evening, the opposition leaders addressed the crowd from Independence Square, where Volodymyr Parasiuk, 26, spoke to the audience to support a peace deal. “We created a turning point.