NEWSBRIEFS

Six soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine 

Ukraine’s military said on January 1 that two of its soldiers were killed and five wounded after an explosive device damaged a military vehicle in the eastern part of the country, where the conflict with Russia-backed forces persists despite a longstanding ceasefire deal. In a separate statement on January 17, the Defense Ministry said two other soldiers were wounded as the militants violated the ceasefire three times in the previous 24 hours using machine guns, grenade launchers and mortars. On January 12, Ukraine’s military said one of its soldiers was killed and four wounded in clashes during the previous 24 hours. A day earlier, the military said three soldiers were killed by separatist shelling. Since April 2014, more than 10,300 people have been killed by fighting between Kyiv’s forces and the Russia-backed militants who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Violin Ensemble (Oksana Konopada, director), which won an award in the violin category.

Ukrainian Music Festival stage promotes rising talent

TORONTO – There are many fine recital or concert performances in and around Toronto. One of the year’s most enjoyable and inspiring experiences is to watch and listen to young talented music students on stage rise to the difficult challenge of performing from memory arranged folk and composed classical Ukrainian music. The 47th annual Marta Krawciw-Barabash Ukrainian Music Festival was held December 1-3, 2017, at Toronto’s Ukrainian National Federation Community Center, concluding with the “Concert of Finalists” in the UNF Trident Hall. The 2017 festival saw over 150 children age 5 and up performing music of Ukrainian composers (or arrangements) in solo (and duet) instrumental, ensemble instrumental, solo vocal and choir competitions that are open to the public, Participants were both of Ukrainian heritage and of non-Ukrainian background. The festival generally draws participants from the Toronto area and southern Ontario.

At the Edmonton screening of “Recovery Room” (from left) are:  Alann Nazarevich, the film’s director Adriana Luhovy, Nestor Makuch and Ilia Simcisin of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association.

Adriana Luhovy’s “Recovery Room” screened in Edmonton

EDMONTON, Alberta –  The Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton recently hosted a screening of Adriana Luhovy’s feature documentary film, “Recovery Room.” The event was sponsored by a number of community organizations: the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association (UCPBA), Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Alberta Provincial Council and Edmonton Branch), League of Ukrainian Canadians, Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood, Ukrainian National Federation and the Alberta Foundation for Ukrainian Education Society. Ms. Luhovy is a native of Montreal, where she completed communication studies at Concordia University. She continued specialized studies in digital design at the Vancouver Film School and the School of Visual Arts in New York. She was employed by the Advancing Human Rights NGO in New York City and her photography has been published in various national and international publications. “Recovery Room” is her first feature documentary film.

Eduard Nyedyelaev, 46, recuperates at the Feofaniya clinic for government officials in Kyiv on January 5, following his release from prison 10 days earlier in Russian-occupied Luhansk where he spent 13 months in captivity for criticizing Moscow-led authorities there.

Freed Luhansk blogger talks about his love for Ukraine

KYIV – In between comments and pictures of his beloved tabby cat on Facebook, Eduard Nyedyelaev, 46, would publish critical posts about the Kremlin proxies who have occupied Luhansk since April 2014.

He often employed deeply ironic language reminiscent of the style that Soviet writers used to avoid censorship. But the subtext was always clear: he didn’t care much for the Moscow-controlled authorities who were running his native city in easternmost Luhansk Oblast.

Suspect arrested in Nozdrovska murder

A Ukrainian court has arrested a suspect in the killing of activist lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska that sparked public outrage and underscored concerns about the justice system in Ukraine. The Kyiv region’s Vyshhorod district court on January 9 placed Yuriy Rossoshans-kyy, 64, in custody for 60 days without the possibility of bail. During the hearing, Mr. Rossoshanskyy admitted to the slaying and said that nobody exerted pressure on him to commit the crime. He is the father of Dmytro Rossoshan-skyy, who was convicted of causing the death of Ms. Nozdrovska’s sister when he hit her with his car while driving drunk in 2015. On January 8, a week after Ms. Nozdrovska was found dead, police announced the detention of a suspect, who was not named at the time.

There’s no end to Russian fake news

News outlets routinely compile lists of the best or worst events of the year, of inventions made and wars started or stopped, and of those who have died over the last 12 months. But thanks to Vladimir Putin, a new category has appeared – the compilation of the most outrageous fakes of Kremlin-controlled media. Two “top 10” lists of Russian fake news stories of 2017 have appeared in the last few weeks – one from the BBC and a second from Ukrainian Information Resist Service. Taken together, they suggest the sweep of Kremlin falsehoods and yet the willingness of some in Russia and the West to believe at least some of them either in whole or in part. The top 10 fake news stories issued by Russian news agencies and outlets according to the BBC over the last 12 months (news.eizvestia.com/news_politics/full/2812-kto-i-kak-nas-obmanyval-sluzhba-bbc-sostavila-rejting-fejkov-goda), in ascending level of absurdity (all are false), include the following:

10.

A year of Russian propaganda: 1,310 cases of Russian fakes debunked by EU watchdog

During the year 2017, we have witnessed plenty of spectacular claims from pro-Kremlin mouthpieces, such as the imminent threat of civil war in Sweden, that an American plane dropped a nuclear bomb over Lithuania, and that the U.S. aims to occupy Europe. Among the things claimed most recently that didn’t happen, we find a clumsy Ukrainian soldier who didn’t blow himself up (it was a video made for fun), rape cases in Sweden that rose by 1,000 percent (in fact a rise of 1.4 percent since 2015) and Pope John Paul II claiming that the invasion of migrants has to stop (he just didn’t). Apart from this, we have also seen the usual pro-Kremlin narratives being repeated over and over again.

Germany calls for peacekeeping mission in Ukraine before Russian election

Germany’s foreign affairs minister is calling for the establishment of an armed U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine before Russia’s March presidential election. Sigmar Gabriel told reporters after talks in Kyiv with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, on January 3 that such a force would be “essential” for ensuring the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Mr. Gabriel was scheduled to visit the contact line separating government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine on January 4, but that leg of the trip was canceled because of poor weather conditions, Mr. Klimkin said in a tweet. The Ukrainian foreign affairs minister added that the two are planning to reschedule the trip for later in January. “This has to be a strong, armed mission that is present across the entire territory of the conflict zone,” Mr. Gabriel said, adding that Germany and France will propose such a peacekeeping mission to the U.N. Security Council in hopes it will bring about a “lasting ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine.

The cover of Volodymyr (Walter) Polovchak’s autobiography, “Freedom’s Child” (1988), co-written with Kevin Klose.

‘Youngest Soviet defector’ tells his tale nearly 40 years later

Wife, two kids, house in the suburbs of Chicago, job as an office manager for the last 20 years. The life of Volodymyr, or Walter, Polovchak sounds like a completely ordinary existence of a Midwestern American. But rewind nearly 40 years and Mr. Polovchak was at the center of a Cold War row after he refused at the age of 12 to return to his home in Soviet Ukraine, won over by the freedoms and opportunities he discovered during a family trip to the United States. To Washington at the time, he was the “youngest Soviet defector.” To the Kremlin, he was a “hostage” along with his older sister, Natalia, who also balked at returning to the Soviet Union. Mr. Polovchak was soon caught up in a media frenzy, an accidental pawn in the struggle between Washington and Moscow.

The endless “Shchedryk”

The other day Euromaidan Press posted some 20 renditions of “Shchedryk” – the New Year carol known in English as “Carol of the Bells” – by Mykola Leontovych ( see http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/ 12/21/a-ukrainian-composers-gift-to-the-world-of-christmas-music/). The renditions – performed in different parts of the world, in various arrangements and musical media – are exquisite. Included are a 1920s choir in Prague, dribbling by U.S.A National Basketball Association’s stars set to its music, the magical David Hickens on the piano, and the incomparable Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose musical conductor popularized the piece. There is also the singing of “Shchedryk” by various services of the U.S. military. Remarkable!

About Akcja Wisla’s 70th anniversary and our next steps

2017 marked the 70th anniversary of Operation Vistula (or Akcja Wisla), the forced resettlement by the Polish communist government of the Ukrainian minority from the southeastern provinces of post-war Poland, to the so-called Recovered Territories in the west of the country.

During this program, over 140,000 ethnic Ukrainians were uprooted from their ancestral lands in the regions of Kholmshchyna, Pidliashia, Nadsiannia, Boykivshchyna and Lemkivshchyna, and forced to abandon their homes, which they inhabited for generations. This program was a continuation of the state-run ethnic cleansing that started with the 1944-1946 population exchanges between Communist Poland and Soviet Ukraine, and were intended to remove all of the ethnic Ukrainians who found themselves to the “wrong” side of the newly drawn border between the two countries called the Curzon line.

In Kyiv on February 1, Ukrainian soldiers pray for their comrades-in-arms killed in the Russian offensive on Avdiyivka.

2017: In Ukraine: a quest for peace and reforms

Authorities in Ukraine started 2017 by presenting evidence in January that disgraced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to send soldiers to Ukraine on March 1, 2014. It was allegedly based on a letter dated that same day which then-Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaliy Churkin presented in New York to the U.N. Security Council during an extraordinary meeting. After the envoy’s death, the Russian leader’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, stated that no letter “or any similar document” was received to deploy troops to Ukraine. Yet on the very same day Mr. Putin had asked the upper house of Russia’s Parliament for permission to deploy forces in Ukraine. Three days later, he stated the following: “What could serve as grounds for the use of the armed forces?

Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij delivers greetings during the official opening on August 27 of Ukrainian Diaspora Days in Lviv at the Andrey Sheptytsky monument.

2017: The Ukrainian diaspora: active around the world

Fifty years. That’s how long the Ukrainian World Congress has been around, and the year 2017 for this worldwide body – which has ties with 53 countries and represents a diaspora of 20 million Ukrainians – was one of multiple celebrations of this major anniversary. A UWC appeal on the occasion of the anniversary cited the organization’s worthy objectives: “In 1967 it was the renewal of an independent Ukrainian state. In 2017 it is the continued development of a democratic and prospering state. Concurrently the UWC actively promotes the rights and interests of all Ukrainians wherever they may live.” In fact, in 2017 the UWC opened a Mission to International Organizations in Brussels to further build and strengthen relations with the international community.

judges-in-minnesota

Ukrainian judges visit Minnesota and D.C.

WASHINGTON – On October 13-20, 2017, the Commercial Law Development Program, in cooperation with the High Commercial Court of Ukraine and the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, held a weeklong consultative visit on the development and utilization of judicial benchbooks. The consultations took place in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., as part of efforts to assist Ukraine to obtain more effective adjudication of intellectual property cases. Seen in the photo are: (top row, from left) Bogdan Lvov, chairman of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine; Ihor Benedysiuk, chairman of the High Council of Justice; Viktor Moskalenko, deputy chairman of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine (retired); Dorian Mazurkevich, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Kris Markarian, U.S. Federal Judicial Center, (bottom row) Iryna Gladka, Commercial Law Development Program; Maryna Domanska, Kyiv Commercial Court of Appeals; Oksana Humeha, Kyiv Commercial Court; Natalia Plias, head of apparatus of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine.