January 29, 2015

2014: Ukrainians in the U.S.: advocates for Ukraine


Paul Hadzewycz

Members of the Ukrainian diaspora march in Washington on May 3 in protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Ukrainians in the U.S. were active in advocacy events, protests, commemorations and various other actions largely focused on the developments in Ukraine.

The year 2014 began with a meeting that was organized on January 2 by the Ukrainian National Association with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at his office in Newark, N.J., to express to the senator the ongoing concerns of Ukrainian Americans who reside in New Jersey in light of the widespread Euro-Maidan protests in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine. Sen. Menendez stated: “We stand with the citizens of Ukraine who meet in Kyiv’s Maidan Square seeking their human rights and dignity.”

Presentations were made by Prof. Alexander Motyl, as well as by Myroslaw Smorodsky and Victor Rud of the Ukrainian American Bar Association. Tamara Olexy, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, urged U.S. government sanctions against the corrupt Ukrainian government officials, as well as against Russia for its involvement and economic aggression toward Ukraine. Sen. Menendez promised to raise the issue at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington and pushed for Magnitsky Act-type legislation targeting Ukrainian and Russian government officials.

Similar meetings were held with: Sen. Chris Murphy (R-Conn.) at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn., on March 1. A town hall meeting with the senator was held at the Ukrainian National Home in Willimantic, Conn. Also in attendance were Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), and State Rep. Susan Johnson (D). Memorial services were held at Ukrainian churches across Connecticut on February 23 and March 2, with various state and federal representatives in attendance.

Demonstrations in the U.S. in support of the Euro-Maidan protests in Ukraine were held on January 26 in New York, Washington and Austin, Tex. Other protests were held on February 2 in Washington near the White House, and more than 100 people gathered in New York’s Columbus Circle on February 16 for a recreation of piano performances during the Euro-Maidan protests on Independence Square in Kyiv. Religious, political and community leaders convened in New York on February 23 in support of the Euro-Maidan protests in Ukraine. Leading participants included: Dania Lawro of the Ukrainian American Youth Association branch in New York; Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine; Ms. Olexy, president of the UCCA; Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.); and Tom Birchard, owner of the Veselka Restaurant. Following the violence that erupted at the Euro-Maidan protests in Kyiv in late February, Ukrainians in the U.S. mobilized for demonstrations in Washington at the Russian Embassy and in Cleveland on February 21 with a 250-car Auto-Maidan and a protest at the Cleveland City Hall that attracted 400 protesters.

Heavyweight boxing world champion Wladimir Klitschko met with Ukrainians in New York at the Ukrainian National Home on February 3 at an event organized by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Calling attention to the Euro-Maidan protests in Ukraine, thanking the diaspora Ukrainian community for its support, and the need for more action, Mr. Klitschko later joined a flashmob outside the venue for the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem and photos with fans. Presentations were made by the Razom organization, as well as UCCA leaders, who stressed the importance of each person’s actions to call attention to the plight of the people of Ukraine.

Ukrainians and their supporters took to social media messaging service Twitter to digitally bombard subscribers with targeted messages to specific media and high-profile recipients, with Twitter “storms” occurring on January 20 and 27 worldwide. The effort, known as Digital Miadan, gained momentum following the initial Twitter storms. Leading the effort were: Lara Chelak, Andrea Chalupa, Alexandra Chalupa, Constatin Kostenko and others. The Digital Maidan also highlighted the Internet and social media as the most popular means for Ukraine’s citizens to get the latest news.

The New Jersey Ukrainian community met with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on February 21 at his office in Paterson, N.J. Representatives from Clifton and Passaic were in attendance who learned of Rep. Pascrell’s support of HR 447 that would sanction the Ukrainian government officials responsible for violence against the Euro-Maidan protesters as well as those officials responsible for the unrest.

More than 2,000 protesters – who arrived by busload from Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut – gathered in front of the White House in Washington on March 6 to protest the Russian invasion of Crimea and President Vladimir Putin’s violation of international laws. The protest was organized by the UCCA, with support from Crimean Tatars, Poles, Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Circassians, Turks, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Georgians. The event featured songs of protest, prayers by Orthodox and Catholic Church leaders, and remarks by former ambassadors, political analysts and community activists as well as politicians. After two hours in front of the White House, the protest moved to the Russian Embassy for another hour.

Ukrainian Americans in New Britain, Conn., picketed at Central Connecticut State University on March 5 to demand that President Barack Obama defend Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia for its unlawful invasion of Crimea.

On March 15 Ukrainians in the Albany area protested at the local Lukoil gas stations, to remind consumers that Lukoil revenue is funding Russian terrorism in Ukraine. Protests were held in Albany, Watervliet and Schenectady, N.Y., and received support from passers-by. In Philadelphia, similar protests were held at Lukoil gas stations on March 15, with protesters shouting, “Lukoil supports Putin’s war effort, don’t buy Russian gas!”

The United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, in coordination with the Embassy of Ukraine in the U.S., collected funds for the National Guard and Ukrainian Army, as well as their families. Funds were collected with cooperation from the Ukrainian American credit unions based in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and New England, as well as MB Financial Bank (Chicago and Philadelphia). Funds were also collected for the victims and their families of those killed during the Euro-Maidan protests.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) met on March 20 with Ukrainian American constituents, and leaders of area Ukrainian organizations – including the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Ukrainian National Association, Ukrainian American Youth Association, Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization – at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany. Rep Frelinghuysen, who chairs the Defense Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, soon after wrote a letter urging President Obama to designate Ukraine as a Major Non-NATO Ally. He added in his letter, “It has been said that the West won the Cold War ‘without firing a shot.’ History must not record that we lost this confrontation without lifting a finger.”

A similar meeting was held with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on February 28 in his New York office, at the request of the UCCA, to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. The Ukrainian community urged that the U.S. boycott the G-8 summit that was to be held in Sochi, Russia, as well as the expansion of the Magnitsky Act to include Russian officials who support Russia’s actions in Ukraine, in addition to suspending the Russian Federation from the World Trade Organization and the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe. Sen. Schumer said that Ukraine needed diplomatic and economic assistance, but did not mention anything on the military front to deter Russian aggression.

The Ukrainian community in Parma, Ohio, hosted a Maidan benefit concert on March 15. More than 700 people attended the concert at St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church that featured the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (UBC), the Zorya Female Vocal Ensemble and the Bayda Quartet. Co-sponsored by the Cleveland Maidan Committee and the United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio, along with participants from 50 Ukrainian organizations in northern Ohio, the concert was also viewed live via a live web broadcast on the UBC’s YouTube channel. The evening raised nearly $100,000 for assistance to families affected by the Euro-Maidan protests. Bishop John Bura of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma led 12 priests of various denominations in a prayer service to commemorate the Heavenly Brigade victims.

On March 30, the Ukrainian community of New Haven met with Sen. Blumenthal at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church hall. Topics included foreign policy in light of events in Ukraine, aid for Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, as well as U.S-Russia relations. Similarly, on March 1 the community met with Sen. Murphy, and with Rep. Rosa DeLauro on March 9. Sen. Blumenthal and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp attended a requiem service at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church on February 23 in honor of the fallen heroes of Ukraine.

The election observer missions that had been organized by the UCCA were in full swing again for the planned presidential election on May 25. The UCCA has sent election observers to Ukraine since 1991, with the goal of ensuring fair and free elections through the reporting of election irregularities and violations. On May 5 a team from the UCCA’s observer mission, including long-term observer Reno Domenico, met with members of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission. Security issues were discussed, especially procedures for short-term observers and changes to election laws. As of May 7, the CEC registered 114 UCCA observers, with an additional 90 observers who were awaiting accreditation.

On May 20 Andrew Futey, vice-president of UCCA and co-chair of the UCCA International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Mr. Futey was joined by representatives of the Ukrainian World Congress and its IEOM, which was chaired by Judge Bohdan Futey. By the time of the meeting, the number of UCCA election observers had grown to 222. The prime minister was briefed on recent work in Washington, through the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS). The prime minister expressed thanks for these efforts and reported on the efforts of law enforcement to provide security for the elections throughout Ukraine.

On May 12-20 the UCCA conducted a civic education program, “Electing the New Ukrainian President,” in a town-hall style that was broadcast to oblast radio stations in seven cities of eastern and southern Ukraine – Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia and Odesa. More than 7 million listeners tuned in to hear the hour-long programs. Candidate Andrii Hrynenko and representatives of candidates for Olha Bohomolets, Yurii Boiko, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Dmytro Yarosh, Vasyl Kuibida, Mykola Mlomuzh, Petro Poroshenko, Oleh Tiahnybok, Sergey Tigipko and Yulia Tymoshenko took part. Financial support was provided by the National Endowment for Democracy and additional support came from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.


To manifest the unity of the Ukrainian diaspora with Ukraine, flashmobs were organized in various cities on August 22, as a lead-in to the 23rd anniversary of the re-establishment of Ukraine’s independence. The flashmobs were the initiative of the organization Razom for Ukraine. Seen here are flashmobs in Washington (above) and Wildwood, N.J.

Ihor Fedoriw

To manifest the unity of the Ukrainian diaspora with Ukraine, flashmobs were organized in various cities on August 22, as a lead-in to the 23rd anniversary of the re-establishment of Ukraine’s independence. The flashmobs were the initiative of the organization Razom for Ukraine. Seen here are flashmobs in Washington (above) and Wildwood, N.J.

On May 26, the UCCA released its preliminary observations, stating, “the May 25 elections met international standards for free and fair elections and accurately reflect the will of the Ukrainian electorate.” Despite minor infractions in a few instances, the “voting process was conducted in a peaceful and transparent and democratic manner.” UCCA election observers were deployed to 600 polling stations across the Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Sumy, Zakarpattia, Zaporizhia and Zhytomyr oblasts, as well as at Ukraine’s diplomatic posts in the U.S.

In the east of Ukraine, the UCCA statement condemned the Soviet-style methods used by Russian-backed militants, but applauded the efforts of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as the thousands of Crimean residents, including Crimean Tatars, who cast ballots in the presidential election. The efforts of the CEC and the Ukrainian government to ensure that the elections took place were noted.

Ms. Olexy recalled her experience as an election observer and as co-chair of the IEOM for UCCA. With Independence Square still scarred by the remnants of the Euro-Maidan events and the images of the fallen heroes of Ukraine as a backdrop for an election, this time was different, she said. The potential for trouble was everywhere and it was real, but so was the potential for change in a country that had enough of the status quo. However, Ukrainians held the presidential elections in a peaceful and democratic manner in the face of Russian aggression – and determined a president in the first round. Ms. Olexy cited the work of the CEC, the government of Ukraine and the election observers who worked to ensure the triumph of democracy.

Detroit-area Ukrainians met with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on March 18 at her Detroit office to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Sen. Stabenow listened to the community’s concerns and recommendations for a plan of action by the U.S. government. On March 9, Ukrainians of New Haven met with Rep. DeLauro at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church, and urged the congresswoman to support tougher sanctions against the Russian government and its leading oligarchs who support Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) released a statement on April 9 urging immediate military assistance to Ukraine by the U.S. and NATO allies. Items that were recommended for shipment to Ukraine included anti-tank and anti-aircraft equipment, border control equipment, communications gear, mine-clearing equipment vehicles, ammunition, fuel and medical gear. “Shame on the U.S. for being fooled once, by believing that Russia did not have designs on Crimea,” and “we should not allow Russia to fool us again with respect to its subordination or invasion of the rest of Ukraine.” In the volatile climate of international terrorism, the UABA underscored that the U.S. cannot appear to be weak, even temporarily, as Russian aggression threatens U.S. national security and the lack of response threatens U.S. credibility.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with Ukrainian Americans from Maryland on April 14 in Washington to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Community members called for continued humanitarian support, tougher sanctions against the Russian aggressor and its oligarchs, the need for energy diversification in Ukraine, as well as military support for Ukraine’s defensive capabilities. The senator said he supported non-lethal assistance for Ukraine’s military and focused on ensuring the transparency and fairness of the upcoming presidential election on May 25.

The Shevchenko Scientific Society in New York hosted a Razom roundtable on April 5 to discuss the role of Ukrainians beyond the borders of Ukraine during the crisis. Razom was formed just a few months prior, at the end of 2013, after its president, Lyuba Shipovich, and future members had met at protests across the East Coast. The organization has grown to include a global network of volunteers engaged in fund-raising, media campaigning, investigating corrupt activities, as well as working with government representatives and human rights organizations.

On April 15 Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) met with constituents at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, N.Y. More than 50 members of the community discussed the situation in Ukraine and how the U.S. can deter Russian aggression with sanctions and military aid. Concerns were also voiced for the persecution of the Catholic faith in Crimea and eastern Ukraine by Russia.

Ukrainians converged in solidarity on May 3 at the White House in Washington for the “World united in support of Ukraine” rally. Speakers included journalist Myroslava Gongadze, George Pazuniak of the UABA, Dr. Christine Hoshovsky of the Rochester Ukrainian Group, Orest Deychakiwsky of the U.S. Commission on Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The rally continued with a march to the Lincoln Memorial, where participants formed a human “Chain of Unity.” Out of this event, the coordinators formed an NGO called Ukraine Abroad to serve the Ukrainian American community and to promote a free and united Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Embassy in the U.S. hosted a roundtable meeting on how to help Ukraine on June 16 in Washington. Ambassador Olexander Motsyk stressed the need for: 1) getting political, financial, military, expert and humanitarian assistance; 2) initiating sanctions to stop Russian aggression; 3) promoting international cooperation in the area of trade and investment; and 4) helping to bring about reform in Ukraine’s social-economic sectors and its integration into Europe with the help of international organizations. UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. stressed the need to be precise and to prioritize, with military aid and defense programs. Nadia Diuk of the National Endowment for Democracy highlighted the need to identify short- and long-term goals. Many of these ideas, added Ms. Olexy of the UCCA, could be used in the approaching Ukrainian Days advocacy event in Washington that was held on July 16.

Sen. Menendez met with Ukrainian pop star and Euro-Maidan stalwart Ruslana at his Newark office to recognize her work during the protests in Kyiv and to confer with New Jersey Ukrainian Americans in learning more about the community’s concerns. In attendance were Walter Zarycky of the Center for U.S.-Ukraine Relations, Roma Lisovich, treasurer of the UNA; Yuriy Symczyk, UNA fraternal coordinator; Ms. Olexy, president of UCCA; and Michael Koziupa of Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union in Whippany, N.J. The representatives argued for greater humanitarian assistance, as well as military aid for Ukraine. Sen. Menendez explained the difficulties these efforts are meeting in Washington.

Following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine, protests erupted in reaction to the disaster that claimed 298 lives. On July 17 Prof. Serhii Plokhii of Harvard University spoke as a guest on the WBZ Radio program with Dan Rea. Dr. Plokhii stated: “It is clear that the Malaysian plane was shot down by a Buk missile released by pro-Russia terrorists in eastern Ukraine, and that there were at least three Russian advisors with them. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that he has the names of the three and he would not do so if he was not sure of his information.” The following day, on July 18, the community gathered on Boston Common for a two-hour long silent candlelight vigil to mourn the victims. On July 20, the Boston branch of the UCCA requested requiem services to be held across Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the MH17 victims and for all victims of the latest Russian aggression in Ukraine.

In Pittsburgh, Prof. Adriana Helbig on July 21 declared a week-long hunger strike to call attention to the events in Ukraine. In Philadelphia on July 18, Ukrainians took to the streets with Ukrainian flags and placards as they demonstrated on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. While in Washington, Ukrainian Americans gathered at the Embassy of the Netherlands to offer solidarity on July 18 with flowers, candles and cards left at the Embassy. One card by “Iryna” simply stated, “Ukraine mourns with Holland.”

In an effort to secure more defensive aid for Ukraine, co-chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), introduced H.R. 5190, the Ukraine Security Assistance Act, on July 24. The bill authorized the president to assess Ukraine’s military, intelligence and security needs, and provide adequate and necessary assistance in protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty. The legislation was supported by the UCCA, the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council and the Ukrainian Federation of America. Mr. Sawkiw, director of UNIS, added, “Furthermore, the UCCA urges the United States to impose harsher sectoral sanctions on Russia, and for President Barack Obama, as leader of the democratic free world, to utilize all of his effforts to persuade the leadership of Europe to match U.S. resolve.”

The UCCA urged Ukrainians in the U.S. to press the U.S. government to grant Ukraine Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status during its efforts to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. President Petro Poroshenko made the request for MNNA status while speaking live on CNN on July 21. The military and financial advantages of Ukraine be granted MNNA status would expedite the lease of military equipment through U.S. funding, anti-terrorism cooperation, exemption from the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, the purchase of depleted uranium anti-tank munitions, priority deliver of military equipment and supplies, the basing of Department of Defense reserve stockpiles, cooperative research with the DOD, bidding on certain DOD contracts, as well as reciprocal training. The MNNA status (which 15 countries currently have) does not entail a security commitment from the U.S. or NATO, but is a means by which the U.S. can assist Ukraine to defend itself.

Ukrainians in the U.S. converged on Ukraine’s diplomatic posts in four cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington – on October 26 to cast their votes for Ukraine’s parliamentary elections. At Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington, more than 300 voters cast ballots.

Yaro Bihun

Ukrainians in the U.S. converged on Ukraine’s diplomatic posts in four cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington – on October 26 to cast their votes for Ukraine’s parliamentary elections. At Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington, more than 300 voters cast ballots.

With the mobilization of the Ukrainian American community in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, the UCCA saw signs of expansion and growth, with the July 25 inclusion of the Ukrainian American Society of Texas (UAST) as its latest member organization. The application was reviewed by the UCCA Membership Council, and approved by the UCCA National Council. Chrystia Geremesz, president of UAST, was welcomed as the organization’s representative on the National Council.

Chicago Ukrainians showed solidarity with Ukraine during a vigil held on July 19 at Water Tower, following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The Illinois branch of the UCCA organized the event, with support from Ukraine’s Consul General Andriy Pravednyk in Chicago. Protesters called for the designation of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, and military support from the U.S. and NATO to Ukraine to counter the threat to global security posed by Russia. Area clergy offered prayers for those who lost their lives in the attack on the commercial jetliner. The event received news coverage as well as support from the Lithuanian, Latvia and Polish communities.

Ukrainian Americans converged on Washington multiple times in 2014 for the advocacy events called Ukrainian Days that were organized by the UCCA in February, July, September and November. The participants urged members of Congress to support military assistance for Ukraine so that the country could defend itself, its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. The September installment was held in conjunction with the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), of which the UCCA is a member. The Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington arm of the UCCA, honored individuals for their work with the “Friends of UNIS Award.” The September event also coincided with the visit to the U.S. by President Poroshenko. Ukrainians were not hopeful that the Obama administration would offer military support to Ukraine in light of the administration’s refusal to call Russia’s actions in Ukraine an invasion.

The Razom for Ukraine group organized a protest on August 31 in Washington at the White House to call for stronger sanctions against Russia and for the U.S. to provide military assistance for Ukraine. A previous protest in Washington featured a march from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial.

Flashmobs were also a feature of Ukrainian demonstrations throughout the world, with noteworthy events held in Washington and in Wildwood Crest, N.J., on August 22.

In the diaspora’s efforts to assist Ukraine and Ukrainians in the aftermath of the Euro-Maidan protests, the community in the U.S. assisted 17-year-old Dmytro – a victim of rubber bullet sniper fire that forced him to lose his right eye. The injury was sustained as Dmytro was urging his compatriots to stand their ground, but following three procedures in Ukraine, a second bullet was found in his cheek and nose, while a third bullet was discovered lodged in his neck. The Ukrainian Medical Association of North America organized three more surgeries in April at Detroit’s Kresge Eye Institute that were made possible by Dr. Mark Juzych, director of the eye institute. The work by the doctors was done pro bono, with Dr. Juzych’s wife, Dr. Nadia Juzych, acting as translator for Dmytro and his brother Volodya.

Ukrainian medical professionals were hosted for 10 days in August 20-30 at Yale University Medical School for training in the treatment of trauma and PTSD symptoms. Following the Euro-Maidan protests there had been an increased need for such programs. Assisting the training were Dr. Martha Bojko, Dr. Ulana Suprun, Prof. Steven Southwick, as well as the Open World Leadership Center and the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee. Financial support was organized by Orest Kyzyk through KyivStar, the Chopivsky Family Foundation, the Dentons law firm in Britain and the New York Chapter of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America.

Hundreds attended a grand banquet at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel on September 25, with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the featured speaker. President Poroshenko was scheduled to be the keynote guest, but the prime minister served in his stead. The evening was organized by the UCCA as a show of diaspora support for Ukraine and the many challenges that Ukraine faces. The evening featured remarks by Minister of Culture Yevhen Nyshchuk, Vice Prime Minister Oleksander Sych, U.S. Ambassador John Herbst, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Eugene Czolij, president of the Ukrainian World Congress, as well as local Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Church leaders. Entertainment selections were performed by the Dumka Chorus of New York and the national anthems of Ukraine and the U.S. were sung by the Dobriansky Brothers.

The UCCA mobilized the Ukrainian American community when the U.S. Congress took its recess for mid-term elections in November. The community was urged to seize the opportunity to speak with their respective representatives in their home states, while the senators and congressmen are available in their home states. Tops on the priority list were two pieces of legislation – HR 5190 (S 2828) “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014” and HR 5241 (S 2238) “Crimea Annexation Non-Recognition Act.”

In other major development among Ukrainians in the U.S., more than 1,500 people gathered at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York on November 22 to mark the 81st anniversary of the Holodomor, the genocidal famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. Statements were made by Ms. Olexy of UCCA, Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Bishop Paul Comnycky of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.N. Yuriy Sergeyev, and Ukraine’s Consul General in New York, Igor Sybiga. Prayers were offered for the repose of the victims and had special significance in light of ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Selfreliance New York Federal Credit Union reached a milestone after more than six decades in service to the Ukrainian American community – it surpassed $1 billion in assets. The announcement was delivered by the credit union’s president and CEO, Bohdan Kurczak, who noted that no other Ukrainian cooperative in the world has achieved this milestone, and that out of 6818 credit unions only 208 have assets of $1 billion or more. Membership had grown by 836 new members to 14,739, with deposits grown to $885 .5 million, with an increase of over $100 million since 2012.

The Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union (USFCU) donated $150,000 to the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown, Pa. The funds will be paid annually in $50,000 installments that will cover half of the center’s $300,000 Capital Improvement Campaign. As part of the improvements, the center’s HVAC system and water heater will be upgraded. Established in 1952, the USFCU has been partnered with the UECC since its founding in 1980, with the USFCU donating more than $500,000 over more than 30 years.

Another milestone in 2014 was the 30th convention of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America that was held in Tarrytown, N.Y., on May 23-26. The convention theme, “The Future of the UNWLA is in Our Hands” was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko and the 70th anniversary of the organization’s magazine Our Life.

Ukrainians in the U.S. also organized the Ukrainian Heritage Nights with the New Jersey Devils NHL franchise, with the first held on March 8 against the Carolina Hurricanes, and again on December 6 against the Washington Capitals. The evenings featured Ukrainian dance group performances, live musicians and Ukrainian recipients of “Hero of the Game” award presentations. Even the official organist played Ukrainian melodies during the games. A mini-concert was held following each night’s performance.