Ukrainian community members in front of City Hall in Bethlehem, Pa.

The 26th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence – BETHLEHEM, Pa.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley Communities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pa., celebrated the 26th anniversary of Ukrainian independence with two separate flag-raising ceremonies. Jaroslaw Chorwat led the Allentown program, which began with the raising of the Ukrainian flag in front of City Hall by Ukrainian American Veterans Post 42 member Viktor Litkewycz. Jerry Kindrachuk delivered the keynote address and Mayor Ed Pawlowski presented a proclamation from the city of Allentown. Proclamations from the district’s state and federal representatives were also read by their respective staff members.

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The 26th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence – TROY, N.Y.

On Wednesday, August 23, in preparation for Ukraine’s Independence Day, members of St. Nicholas Brotherhood Society (Bratstvo) and Ukrainian National Association Branch 13 raised Ukraine’s flag at Taras Shevchenko Park in Troy, N.Y. The Bratstvo and UNA Branch 13 have been affiliated for over 100 years. In recent years, Bratstvo-UNA Branch 13 members have taken responsibility for maintenance of Taras Shevchenko Place in Troy. Troy is considered the birthplace of the new immigrants to Albany’s Capital District and, for that reason, a statue to honor the bard of Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko, was placed in a small urban park given the name Taras Shevchenko Place on June 5, 1988. The first individual Ukrainian arrived in the Capital Region in the mid-1880s. Above, Bratstvo and UNA members – (from left) Ivan Uruskyj with granddaughter Amelia, Bratstvo President Slavko Tysiak, UNA Branch 13 Secretary Nicholas Fil and Andrij Demczar – hold Ukraine’s flag prior to the flag-raising.

The crowd attending the Ukrainian Independence Day ceremonies in front of City Hall.

Greater Boston celebrates Ukraine’s independence at multiple events

BOSTON – As has now become traditional, the Ukrainian American community of greater Boston and eastern New England began its celebration of the anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence on August 24, 1991, with a commemorative ceremony and raising of the Ukrainian flag on the ceremonial flagpole on Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Representatives of the state, city, clergy, community leaders, the Lithuanian community, and more than 250 Ukrainian Americans – most wearing Ukrainian embroidery – participated. The ceremonies were under the auspices of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Boston Branch (UCCA-Boston) in conjunction with a number of local organizations and a host of volunteers. In addition to the ceremonial flag-raising at Boston’s City Hall, this year’s various events included a reception hosted in the City Council Chambers, a cruise in Boston Harbor, cooking classes on how to make varenyky and holubtsi, formal liturgies offered for Ukraine at all Boston-area churches, and a traditional Ukrainian picnic on the spacious nine-acre grounds of Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic parish. In all, some 2,000 people attended some part of the celebration, and, it should be noted, a very high percentage of those who took part were fairly young, wore Ukrainian embroidery (vyshyvanky), and were members of the Fourth Wave.

Newsbriefs

Poland drops controversial passport plan

WARSAW – Poland’s government says it is abandoning a plan to include images in Polish passports of landmarks that are now within the borders of Ukraine and Lithuania. The passport plan had angered both Ukraine and Lithuania, with the government in Kyiv calling it an “unfriendly step that will have a negative impact on the development of the Ukraine-Polish strategic partnership.” The Polish government’s proposal appeared to break a longstanding practice of not making any claim, even symbolic, to territories Poland lost in the redrawing of borders during the 20th century. The disputed images were of a Polish military cemetery in Lviv and the 16th century Gate of Dawn in Vilnius – one of the most important religious, historical and cultural monuments in the Lithuanian capital. Polish Internal Affairs Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says his ministry has picked other images to include in place of the two disputed ones. The new passports are due to be introduced in 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence after more than a century of foreign rule.

The authentic Ukrainian Fashion Show organized by Lyudmila Shefel.

Ukrainian pavilion a hit at Edmonton Heritage Festival

EDMONTON, Alberta – Where does one see an elderly couple get up to dance to the modern music of two young musicians recently settled in Canada? Where do a young Alberta members of the legislative assembly and her sister dance in the pouring rain to the traditional tunes of Ukrainian Canadian old-timers? Answer: At the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Edmonton Heritage Festival. The Ukrainian Pavilion at the Edmonton Heritage Day Festival, which took place on August 5, 6 and 7, was a big success in spite of less-than-ideal weather. The weather on Sunday was perfect and crowds filled Hawrelak Park.

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Youths enjoy Ukrainian Week in Wildwood

WILDWOOD CREST, N.J. – What has come to be known as “Ukrainian Week” in Wildwood (it’s the week before the week leading to Labor Day) brings droves of Ukrainians to this popular beach town in New Jersey. At right and below, two groups of Ukrainian youths – one age 17-21, the other age 22-30 – were spontaneously called together by Talia Danysh for memorable photos on the beach on August 26.

Sportsline

Tennis update

• In girls’ doubles at the U.S. Open in New York that concluded on September 10, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Olga Danilovic of Serbia won first place after winning 6-1, 7-5 against Lea Boskovic of Croatia and Wang Xiyu of China in the final. The Ukrainian-Serb duo won 6-4, 7-6(7-3) against Sofya Lansere and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia in the semifinal and won 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinal against Emily Appleton of Great Britain and Emiliana Arango of Colombia. Boxing

• Ukraine was represented by eight boxers at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Hamburg, Germany, on August 25 through September 2. Middleweight Oleksandr Khyzhniak (81 kg) won the gold-medal bout against Ablikhan Amankul of Kazakhstan. Viktor Vykhryst (+91 kg) lost in the second round against Joseph Goodall of Australia, and Iurii Shestak (60 kg) lost in the quarterfinal against Sofiane Oumiha of France.

Vasyl Bondar, 42, spent nearly nine months in the frontline town of Shyrokyne in Donetsk Oblast in a marine unit during his yearlong tour of duty.

Ukraine’s Donbas war veterans fight invisible foe of post-combat stress

KYIV – Vasyl Bondar faced a new foe when he came home from a tour of duty in a Ukrainian naval forces unit that included nearly nine months in the frontline Donetsk Oblast town of Shyrokyne where he often faced shelling from Russian-led forces.

Returning to civilian life in November 2016, the 42-year-old native Kyivan started fighting an enemy that was at once invisible and elusive.

At the Konowal Walk dedication ceremonies (from left) are: Paul Grod, president, Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk, chairman, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation; and the presiding officer, Lt. Gen. Paul Wynnyk, commander, Canadian Army.

Konowal Walk opens at WWI memorial in France

LOOS-EN-GOHELLE, France – Hundreds of people from France and a sizeable delegation of Ukrainians from the diaspora attended the public unveiling of the Battle of Hill 70 Memorial at Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on August 22. Included in the ceremony was the official opening of the Konowal Walk. Cpl. Filip Konowal’s valor 100 years ago at the Battle of Hill 70 (August 22, 1917) was recognized with the highest medal of the British Empire, the Victoria Cross. He was the only Ukrainian ever so distinguished. The naming of the central pathway at the Hill 70 memorial after Konowal was made possible through the generosity of the Temerty Family Foundation, the Ihnatowycz Family Foundation, the Petro Jacyk Education Foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Fund, Shevchenko Foundation and other Ukrainian Canadian organizations and individuals, with the support of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

Flag-bearers in Centennial Park for Toronto’s Ukrainian Independence Day celebration, which also marked the 150th anniversary of Canada.

Toronto celebrates Ukraine’s independence, Canada’s 150th anniversary

TORONTO – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress Toronto Branch (UCC-Toronto) welcomed over 12,000 people to the 26th annual Ukrainian Independence Day celebration on Saturday, August 19, at Centennial Park in Toronto for what is the largest such celebration in North America and the diaspora. The 2017 Independence Day celebration marked not only over a quarter century of Ukraine’s independent statehood, but also commemorated Canada’s 150th anniversary. The event was a huge success: there was record attendance and a full day of festivities and entertainment. The stage program commenced with opening prayers conducted by clergy from the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. This was followed by a warm welcome from the UCC-Toronto President Taras Bahriy, and special greetings from Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko and Consul General Andrii Veselovskyi.

On the grounds of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (from left) are: Jaroslav Sydorenko, Dr. Maria Korkatsch-Groszko, Ukrainian National Deputy Andriy Levus, Serhiy Kuzan of the Free People network, Pavlo Bandriwsky of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois Division, and John Jaresko.

Support for Ukraine main theme at commemoration in Illinois

CHICAGO – The 26th anniversary of renewed Ukrainian independence was celebrated on August 26-27 with the traditional raising of the flag at Daley Plaza and the Ukrainian Days Festival in the newly selected venue in the heart of Ukrainian Village. The Ukrainian community was honored by the participation of Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago Larysa A. Gerasko and members of the Chicago Consular Corps. In addition, the community welcomed ethnic dignitaries and local politicians, among them: Dr. John V. Prunskis, honorary consul general of the Republic of Lithuania; Consul Piotr Semeniuk of the Consulate of the Republic of Poland; Saulius Kuprys, president of the Lithuania American Council and Joint Baltic American National Committee, and member of the Central and East European Coalition; Romuald J. Poplawski, Polish Hungarian World Federation; Henryk Marciniak, Road to Peace Foundation; Commissioner Dan Patlak, Cook County; Ben Kelner, director of strategy and external affairs for Chicago Sister Cities International. Ihor Diaczun, president of Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois Division, offered remarks on the importance of initiatives that underscore and preserve Ukrainian traditions and values while fulfilling American civic responsibilities. The community hosted three guests of honor: Andriy Levus (Member of Parliament of Ukraine, chairman of the Subcommittee on State Security of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, former vice-commander of Maidan Self-Defense, founder of the Free People network as the first self-defense unit of Euro-Maidan); Serhiy Kuzan (an attorney by training, vice-president of the Free People civic organization); Borys Potapenko (president of the International Council in Support of Ukraine; member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress).

Zapad 2017 plan reflects religious, ethnic factors, not just geopolitical ones

The upcoming Zapad 2017 joint exercise by Russian and Belarusian troops in Belarus has sparked concerns that it may be used by Moscow either to carry out a hybrid revolution in Belarus – along the lines of what Vladimir Putin did in Crimea in 2014 – or to put new pressure on Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries. Minsk has sought to downplay those fears by inviting observers from these countries and others and insisting that all Russian troops will be withdrawn from Belarusian territory when the exercise is completed at the end of September (Interfax, July 17; Belta, August 29). But plans for the exercise, as announced by the Belarusian General Staff, could add to nervousness not only in Belarus itself, but among neighboring countries as well. The Belarusian paper Nasha Niva reports that those who planned the exercise created notional “enemy” territories that generally follow the borders of existing countries, but also divide them and Belarus in particular along ethnic and religious lines. This seems to indicate that those ethnic and religious divisions – and not the political ones that emerged with the restoration of the independence of the three Baltic countries and the acquisition of independence by Belarus and Ukraine in 1991 – play a far larger role in the thinking of Belarusian and Russian defense planners.

Explainer: Does Putin’s peacekeeper proposal for Ukraine have any merit?

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other senior officials in Kyiv have long called for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed in eastern Ukraine. In September 2015, Mr. Poroshenko said such a force would help guarantee security “in a situation where the promise of peace is not being kept.”

The conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014, shortly after Moscow occupied and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed as a result of the fighting, according to U.N. data. Kyiv and the West accuse Moscow of backing the separatists with arms, including heavy weapons, and funds – charges the Kremlin denies. Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far voiced lukewarm support in vague terms for the idea of peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine.

Russia-U.S. relations: Stumbling and slipping along road of rigid confrontation

The black smoke rising from the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco on September 1 made for a perfect symbol of the deepening degeneration of Russia’s relations with the United States. Moscow was given only two days to shut down its diplomatic activities at this Consulate and two other facilities – in Washington and New York. The Kremlin expressed indignation at this demand, calling it “raider capture” (RIA Novosti, September 1). The U.S. State Department took this step in response to the Russian order, from July, to dramatically reduce the staff of U.S. diplomatic missions by 755 personnel, which itself was a response to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats back in December 2016 (Newsru.com, September 1; see Eurasia Daily Monitor, August 3). Now Moscow is preparing a new response, assessing the costs of the few bad options it has left; its previous step, for that matter, has backfired quite directly, as more than 600 out of the 755 reduced personnel at U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia are Russian citizens (RBC, August 30).