Ukrainian Canadian congress CEO Ihor Michalchyshyn and UCC Executive Committee member Cassian Soltykevych at the unvieling ceremony of the Memorial for the Victims of Communism.

Site unveiled in Ottawa for Canada’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Ukrainian Canadian Congress announces $25,000 contribution 

OTTAWA – The dedication of the site for Canada’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism – “Canada, Land of Refuge” – took place in Ottawa on November 2. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) announced a contribution of $25,000 to the memorial. Mélanie Joly, minister of Canadian heritage, and Arif Virani, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage (multiculturalism), took part in the solemn ceremony. The ceremony included an Indigenous blessing, testimonies of survivors of Communist regimes, and the presentation of a plant that will be incorporated into the landscape of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. The site of the memorial is on the west side of the Garden of Provinces and Territories in the Parliamentary Precinct in Canada’s capital.

Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States, Rolandas Kriščiūnas, accepts a Friend of UNIS Award on behalf of his country’s foreign affairs minister, Linas Linkevičius.

UNIS celebrates 40 years of service

WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington bureau of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), marked its 40th anniversary with an evening reception on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, October 11. Held following the third daylong Ukrainian Day Advocacy event of 2017, the reception attracted over 100 guests in the prestigious Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Michael Sawkiw, UNIS director and UCCA vice-president, began the evening’s program by warmly thanking the guests for supporting the work of the UNIS office before introducing Bishop John Bura, auxiliary bishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, to deliver the invocation. UCCA’s Andrij Dobriansky was invited to sing the Ukrainian and American national anthems.

In keeping with the tradition established at previous advocacy events, Mr. Sawkiw bestowed several Friend of UNIS Awards – an honor reserved for those in Washington who have advocated for and expressed their continued support for Ukraine. That evening’s recipients included Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly and Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevičius.

Lecture by Kyiv-based scholar focuses on “Ukrainian Victims of 20th Century”

NEW YORK – This year marks the 70th year since the ethnic cleansing of Ukrainian Lemko lands known as Akcja Wisla, as well as the 75th year since the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and the 70th year since UPA executed its final directive – its “Great Raid” – to spread documentary source material throughout the nations of Western Europe about Ukraine’s heroic struggle for independence. On Friday, October 13, the special Ukrainian National Committee organized by Ukrainian American representative organizations to commemorate these three anniversaries presented a special lecture at the Ukrainian National Home in New York City. One of a series of anniversary events, this lecture, titled “Ukrainian Victims of the 20th Century,” was a special presentation co-produced by the Ukrainian Free University Foundation. Prior to any speeches or academic presentations, the audience witnessed a procession of colors presented by members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA) and Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. Once the scouts had arranged themselves on the raised podium at the front of the hall, the evening’s moderator, Askold Lozynskyj, invited Father Emilian Dorosh, OSBM, administrator of the neighboring St.

Pikkardiyska Tertsiya on stage during the commemorative concert.

Concert in New Jersey marks historic UPA and Akcja Wisla anniversaries

WHIPPANY, N.J. –  A commemorative concert held here at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey on Saturday, October 14, marked three historic anniversaries that are being observed by Ukrainians around world. Headlining the sold-out concert were well-known performers from Ukraine, the six-member a cappella group Pikkardiyska Tertsiya and bard Taras Chubay, a singer, musician and songwriter, as well as the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Whippany, N.J.

The event was part of the commemorations planned by the community group known as the Ukrainian National Committee to Commemorate 75th Anniversary of UPA, 70th Anniversary of Akcja Wisla and 70th Anniversary of UPA’s Great Raid. Among the committee’s members are veterans’ groups of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (known by its Ukrainian acronym as UPA) and the Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL). The concert was opened with the Ukrainian and American national anthems performed by the gifted young singer Anya Kosachevich. The color guard was composed of members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization and the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA).

Newsbriefs

U.S. and Russia differ on peacekeepers

After talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Russian envoys say their countries have “different concepts for how to make peace” but will continue to work to achieve that goal. “Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions… and to think about further ways to address this challenge,” said a joint statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after special envoy Kurt Volker and Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov met on November 13. It said the meeting in Belgrade included a “thorough discussion of the current diplomatic state of play concerning efforts to end the war” between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Volker had indicated before the meeting that it would focus on the possibility of an international peacekeeping force being deployed in the parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that are held by Russia-backed separatists.

At the Hartford screening of “Recovery Room” (from left) are: Nina Sakun, producers Zorianna Hrycenko and Yurij Luhovy, screening coordinator Lana Babij and UNWLA Branch 106 President Natalia Rudko.

New documentary “Recovery Room” receives high marks at Hartford screening

HARTFORD, Conn. – On Saturday, October 14, Hartford-area residents had an opportunity to view “Recovery Room,”  a dramatic, award-winning documentary about today’s war-ravaged Ukrainian soldiers and the efforts of dedicated medical specialists from Ukraine and Canada who are helping them heal. The film opens with a taut back history of the Maidan Revolution of Dignity, then turns its focus to the experiences of several individual soldiers. We meet them  – hear their stories, view flashbacks of the actual battles, hear their dreams of recovery – all interspersed with footage of actual surgical procedures, and learn how the medical personnel gained knowledge and respect from their intense interaction with their trans-Atlantic partners, and how each was uniquely moved by his or her experience with those brave young men. The desperate reality of treating the injured can seem hopeless.

Ambassador Steven Pifer discusses his new book

PHILADELPHIA – Steven Pifer was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 1998-2000; his 27-year diplomatic career focused on U.S. relations with the nations of the former Soviet Union and Eurasia. His book “The Eagle and the Trident” appeared in July. The 374-page account is subtitled “U.S.-Ukraine Relations in Modern Times” and depicts Kyiv’s Maidan Independence Square on its blue-and-yellow hard cover. On October 19, Ambassador Pifer spoke twice in Philadelphia, presenting his new book. His first appearance took place during the day at Manor College, where he addressed an audience of 50 people, the majority of whom were students.

Keith Brown

ASU seeks applicants for study of Ukrainian as “critical language”

PHEONIX – Under the leadership of the Melikian Center’s new director, Prof. Keith Brown (formerly of Brown University), the Critical Languages Institute (CLI) at Arizona State University’s Melikian Center will offer first-year Ukrainian summer intensive language courses beginning in 2018. Groundwork for the Ukrainian program was laid over the past two years by the Melikian Center’s interim director, Prof. Mark von Hagen. Classes begin on May 29, 2018, and end on July 13, 2018.  Summer 2018 applications opened on October 1 and close on May 8, 2018.  The courses provide eight university-level semester credit hours. Applicants must be at least 16 years old.  The program is open to: ASU and non-ASU students; high-school juniors and seniors; undergraduate and graduate students; working professionals, teachers, and retirees; and non-U.S. students who hold student visas. If not already an ASU student, the applicant must be accepted by ASU as a non-degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student.  There is no requirement to register for any additional courses. The expense of the Ukrainian language courses is a $1,500 program fee.  Due to generous support by ASU, tuition is waived.  The program fee covers academics only and does not cover housing, meals, travel, books or insurance.

Participants of the Plast Merit Badge Weekend, including scout, counselors and parent volunteers.

Plast scouts enjoy merit badge weekend

EAST CHATHAM, N.Y. – The Plast New York branch’s adult scouts (age 18-35) organized Merit Badge Weekend on Friday-Sunday, September 29-October 1 at the Vovcha Tropa campsite in upstate new York. This field trip originated several years ago as an opportunity for members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization age 12-18 to complete the requirements for several merit badges that are typically not offered during summer camps. This year, almost 100 Plast scouts and counselors from Plast branches and groups in Newark and Passaic, N.J.; New York, Yonkers, Hempstead, Kerhonkson and Albany, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; and Philadelphia, participated, as did one independent scout. Several parent volunteers assisted in running the program. After the opening ceremony, participants had a chance to earn one or two of the six merit badges offered: archery, target shooting, bicycling, nature, photography and etiquette.

St. George Academy at the Ukrainian American Youth Association grounds in Ellenville, N.Y.

St. George Academy goes on retreat

ELLENVILLE, N.Y. – In mid-September, the students and faculty of St. George Academy (SGA) embarked on the first annual SGA retreat. The retreat took place on September 13-15 on the grounds of the Ukrainian American Youth Association (known as “oselia”) in Ellenville, N.Y., located at the base of the beautiful Catskill Mountains. The purpose of the retreat was to give students the opportunity to get to know each other and their faculty better, to forge lasting bonds and to experience a different environment, where they could learn new things and create lasting memories. The students enjoyed a variety of activities during their stay, including sports, swimming, hiking, singing, dancing and making new friends.

Verkhovna Rada passes more laws to meet IMF and Maidan demands

KYIV – Ukraine’s reformist yet occasionally obdurate legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, moved ahead this week with more bills to further enhance a constantly overdue pro-European agenda on the back of promises of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

A more representative electoral bill was approved in the first of two readings on November 7. It foresees replacing half of the nation’s 225 voting districts, in which single candidates got elected based only on who receives the most votes, with regional political party lists, whereby candidates get elected based on the proportion of votes their party receives.

During their meeting in Ottawa, Prime Ministers Volodymyr Groysman of Ukraine and Justin Trudeau of Canada.

Groysman pitches Ukraine as business opportunity for Canada

OTTAWA – During his first-ever visit to Canada, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman remarked, in an exaggerated way at the Ukrainian Day on Parliament Hill reception organized by the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program, that “every day in Canadian history” has had a Ukrainian element in it.

But that comment made on October 31 somewhat rang true – at least during and shortly after Ukraine’s youngest-ever prime minister, age 39, was here primarily to promote his country as a great Canadian opportunity for trade and investment.

Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-chairs, (from left) Reps. Sander Levin, Andy Harris, Marcy Kaptur and Brian Fitzpatrick.

Ukrainian Caucus co-chairs introduce resolution on 85th anniversary of Holodomor

WASHINGTON – Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-chairs, Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), on November 7 introduced a resolution commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor Famine-Genocide. The resolution honors the estimated 7 million to 10 million Ukrainian people who perished at the will of the totalitarian Stalinist Government of the former Soviet Union, which perpetrated a premeditated famine in the winter of 1932-1933 in Ukraine in a concerted effort to break the nation’s resistance to Communist occupation. “We must solemnly remember the millions of Ukrainians who lost their lives in the Holodomor Famine-Genocide and shine a spotlight on the truth. This monument represents our hopes, our shared values and the humanity that binds us,” the members said.

Erdoğan brokers deal with Putin to release Crimean Tatar prisoners

September and October saw a fresh wave of house searches, arrests and increasing oppression of regime critics on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula. But on October 25, two Crimean Tatar political prisoners, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, were freed and extradited to Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for their release. Their emergency release was unexpected and became possible based on a signed protocol between Turkey and Russia (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, October 30).

As Russian support for Ukrainian war ebbs, Kremlin mulls new ‘hybrid’ tactics

Vladimir Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea gave him a big political boost, and Russians still overwhelmingly support the annexation of that Ukrainian peninsula. But support for Russian forces and their clients in the Donbas is declining, with ever more Russians against backing these breakaway groups and expressing fears that the conflict there could grow into a major war with the West (Levada.ru, October 30).