2013: The UNA: highlighting a proud 119-year history

During 2013 the Ukrainian National Association, a fraternal organization with a proud history of 119 years of service to our community, expended much time and effort on reintroducing itself to its members and potential members. Foremost among those efforts was the release, at the start of Ukrainian festival season in North America, of what came to be known as the UNA’s 2013 summer magazine, called “UNA and the Community: Partners for Life.” The brainchild of UNA National Secretary Christine E. Kozak, the publication made its debut at the Ukrainian Cultural Festival at Soyuzivka, where it was distributed to festival-goers. The 32-page magazine contained information about the Ukrainian National Association, notes from UNA executive officers, informative articles about the UNA’s insurance offerings, interviews with some of the UNA’s insurance professionals, a page featuring the UNA’s Home Office staff and a section on member benefits, including the Soyuzivka Heritage Center and the newspapers Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, both of which are published by the UNA. The editor of the publication was Irene Jarosewich, a former editorial staff member of The Ukrainian Weekly and former editor-in-chief of Svoboda, while the magazine’s graphic design was the work of Stefan Slutsky, layout artist of The Ukrainian Weekly. Partners for Life was available at all Ukrainian festivals where the UNA was represented during 2013.

2013: Sports: top athletes and major victories

Soccer made the top sports headlines during 2013. Mikhail Fomenko’s hiring sparked Ukraine’s national team to an undefeated eight-match run in their attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup of soccer. The disciple of his legendary mentor, Valeri Lobanovsky, confounded Ukraine, shooting a thousand volts of energy through a fledgling national squad, transforming their fortunes in a little over 10 months, while seriously threatening the World Cup ambitions of both England and France. Granted, Fomenko’s Ukraine team fell just short of reaching the World Cup, a most disappointing ending to an amazing streak of eight consecutive victories. The heart-wrenching short-term loss, however, will be more than offset by a solid long-term prognosis of continued development for the national team.

2013: Arts and culture: screens, stages and more

Screen and Stage

Arts and culture events kicked off in 2013 with the February 3 premiere of Ukrainian American filmmaker Andrea Odezynska’s documentary “Felt, Feelings and Dreams” at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival. The film, made in collaboration with the Yara Arts Group, follows Kyrgyz women as they make traditional felt rugs (“shydraks”). Other Ukrainians collaborating on the project included musicians Andriy Milavsky and Slau Halatyn, who provided music for the score. The fourth Kinofest NYC film festival, which highlights independent films from Ukraine and the broader post-Soviet region, began at the Ukrainian Institute of America. Other films were screened at the Anthology Film Archives and The Ukrainian Museum, with screenings held April 4-7.

2013: Academia: a focus on the Holodomor

Being the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, 2013 was notable for the many conferences, events and projects commemorating this historic genocide. In commemoration of the anniversary of the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) Press published “The Holodomor Reader,” the first comprehensive English-language source-book on this tragedy of the Ukrainian people. The materials are grouped in six sections: scholarship; legal assessments, findings and resolutions; eyewitness accounts and memoirs; survivor testimonies, memoirs, diaries, and letters; documents; and works of literature. Each section is prefaced with introductory remarks describing the contents. The book also contains a bibliographic note and a map showing the intensity of the famine by region.

2013: Ukrainian Canadians: speaking out on the issues

For Ukrainian Canadians, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR), scheduled to open in Winnipeg in September 2014, continued to be an issue of discussion and contention. In early 2013 it was reported the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) had held a two-day board meeting to discuss the issues, which primarily concern the inclusion of Canada’s First National Internment operations of 1914-1920 as well as the Holodomor, as exhibits in the CMHR. The board unanimously adopted a motion reiterating its position – held for the last nine years – in support of a permanent, prominent and distinct gallery for the Holodomor at the CMHR, as well as a permanent and dedicated exhibit on the internment. CMHR’s CEO, Stuart Murray, its head curator, Dr. Clint Curle, and director of communications, Angela Cassie, attended the late December 2012 meeting with the UCC. They presented the proposed content and layout of the CMHR, in which the UCC board expressed disappointment.

2013: Ukrainians in the U.S.: making their voices heard

Ukrainians in the United States attempted during 2013 to have their voices heard by the leaders of the country. At the Ukrainian Days advocacy event in Washington on April 17-18, some two dozen community members participated in a program designed by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and its Washington bureau, the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), to promote the concerns of the Ukrainian American community, as well as to establish better contacts with their senators and representatives in Congress. First on the agenda was a briefing at the American Foreign Policy Council that in addition to AFPC leaders included the director of the Office of Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. and Volodymyr Viatrovych, lecturer at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Tellingly, Baxter Hunt, director of the Office of Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus Affairs, spoke about the intricacies of Ukrainian politics and how Russia tried to influence Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy agendas. In the afternoon, Ukrainian Days participants met with staff at the congressional offices of their senators and representatives.

2013: Canada-Ukraine relations: policy of engagement persists

During 2013, the Ukrainian Canadian community was ably represented by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) which was very active in putting forward the community interests to the Canadian government and Canadian parliamentarians, greatly facilitated by the fact that its now had an Ottawa office, which had been set up in March 2012. On January 15 the UCC met with Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino to discuss the community’s priorities relating to the Ukraine programming of the Canadian International Development agency (CIDA). The UCC wanted to ensure that the government of Canada maintained a policy of engagement with Ukraine, therefore it suggested areas of continued engagement. The UCC believed it was critical that Ukraine remain as a priority country for CIDA in order to support stability in a region that is facing significant democratic backsliding. There is a need to target those sectors where Canada has the know-how and experience to benefit both countries, the UCC noted.

2013: U.S.-Ukraine relations: more downs than ups

The development of Ukraine’s relationship with Europe and the possibility of its association with the European Union continued to be the dominant issue also in the development of Ukraine’s relationship with the United States in 2013 – much as it had been in the previous few years. But it came to the fore near the end of November, when President Viktor Yanukovych decided against signing the Association Agreement with the EU and followed up with a visit to Moscow, where on December 17 he signed an agreement with President Vladimir Putin which rewarded Ukraine for doing so and for continuing its Moscow alliance with a $15 billion loan and lower prices for the natural gas it imports from Russia. The 2013 calendar also saw, among other events, the assignment of a new U.S. ambassador to Kyiv and the opening of a Ukrainian consular office in Arizona, a number of official statements and visits, congressional hearings, continuing bilateral cooperation programs, and the groundbreaking ceremony in Washington of the long-awaited Holodomor memorial honoring the millions of Ukrainians who perished during Stalin’s 1932-1933 genocidal famine. Relations with the EU and Russia

In Washington, Ukraine’s problems were outlined early in the year by three former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine in a roundtable discussion on January 30 at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute. The ambassadors – William Miller, Steven Pifer and John Herbst – in their reflections and recommendations agreed that Ukraine’s road to developing a truly democratic, just and economically viable and fair society has been a difficult one, but that it may well achieve it in the not too distant future.

2013: St. Jude Ukrainian Orthodox Mission founded in Tokyo

TOKYO – Orthodox Christianity was first introduced to Japan in the 19th century by the Russian Orthodox missionary and saint, Nikolai (Kasatkin, 1836-1912). The fruit of that work is the autonomous Orthodox Church in Japan, which in 2006 comprised 67 communities served by two bishops and 22 priests. A new chapter in the history of Eastern Christianity in Japan involves the recent appearance of a small mission of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate: the St. Jude Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in Tokyo. The mission’s founding is tied to the unique life path and the priestly vocation of U.S.-born Paul Koroluk.

2013: Churches: anniversary of Kyiv-Rus’ baptism

Church news in 2013 was kicked off on January 19 when Pope Benedict XVI, as announced by Archbishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France, elevated two new Ukrainian Catholic exarchates in Great Britain and France to eparchies. Thus, the Eparchy of the Holy Family was established in London and the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great in Paris. Bishop Hlib Lonchyna has served as the exarch for Great Britain and was elevated to eparchial bishop of London and Bishop Gudziak, exarch of France, was elevated to eparchial bishop of Paris. The two eparchies include tens of priests and tens of thousands of faithful across Great Britain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.