“Corruption alienates and angers citizens, which can cause them to lose faith in the state, or, worse, fuel political instability and violent extremism. “Just look at Ukraine. The protesters on Maidan had many grievances, but one of their most pressing – part of what drove Ukrainians into the streets in frigid temperatures – was that they were fed up with the sleaze, graft and cronyism that had been robbing the country of its promise for far too long. They resented a kleptocratic regime parading around in democratic trappings. “Nominal ‘public servants’ like [Viktor] Yanukovych and his cronies not only enriched themselves at the cost of schools, roads and hospitals, but they also weakened public institutions and created wormholes in key sectors like energy and the media that malicious actors continue to exploit.
This year, my Bethlehem is completely torn to shreds by an endless expanse of gaping holes. It is sown and braided with puncture marks of machineguns and automatic fire, fragments of mines, grenades, Grad rockets. Wherever you turn, holes are ubiquitous – in the facades of buildings, in fences, retaining walls, windows and roof tiles, trees and automobiles – all strafed with holes. This year, my Bethlehem emerges from a porous, pock-marked world, positioned somewhere on the margin between human thought and human mindlessness, on the border between the real and imaginary, abundantly strewn with the dried and scattered seeds of last year’s sowing. Today in the Pisky Sands near Donetsk, there is no hint of safety, no refuge or hiding place from the ruthless, ragged proliferation of punctured holes.
Andrew Fedynsky (January 4) stated that “The U.S. and Europe have been steadfast in their support [of Ukraine].” This is not true. President Barack Obama has refused to give military weapons to Ukraine even though Ukraine has urgently requested tem. Talk is cheap. What Ukraine needs is military equipment, which so far is not forthcoming from Mr. Obama.
I’ve been there and here’s what I think. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) was boosted as “Canada’s museum.” It’s not. Instead it’s a pretty shell whose appearance distracts from what’s within, much like one of Winnipeg’s courtesans of the curb, catching your eye, making you forget she’s carrying the clap. After following a path consecrated the “Israel Asper Way” you mount ramp after ramp in this hollow temple, clambering into the “Israel Asper Tower of Hope.” From this cochleated appendage you get to look down on Winnipeg. It’s somewhat better looking from up there than at ground level.
Anation marred by deadly political protests received a desperately needed victory when the Ukrainian women’s biathlon team won an Olympic gold medal in the 4×6-km relay. The Semerenko twins, Vita and Valj, Juliya Dzhyma and anchor Olena Pidhrushna missed five targets, but avoided penalty loops to finish in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 2.5 seconds. It was Ukraine’s second medal in the Winter Games and second medal in women’s biathlon. And it was Ukraine’s first gold medal at a Winter Olympics in 20 years. Earlier, Vita Semerenko had won a bronze medal in the women’s 7.5-km sprint.
Besides manifesting deep concern with developments in Ukraine, Ukrainian Canadians were active during 2014 in myriad ways – from book publishing and education to museums, and from solemn anniversaries to celebratory festivals. Some of the most noteworthy events and developments are given below in chronological order. The play “Luba, Simply Luba” was presented with the fifth Kobzar Literary Award, during a ceremony at the Palais Royale in Toronto on March 5. “Luba, Simply Luba” was written by playwright Diane Flacks as a stage presentation for the Ukrainian comedienne Luba Goy. The book chronicles the life of one of the best known and successful Ukrainian Canadian actors, a 35-year veteran of the CBC’s political and cultural satire “Royal Canadian Air Farce,” while weaving through it a poignant immigrant story.
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.
TORONTO – Some 80 supporters of the Hrushevsky Translation Project (HTP) joined family and friends of the late John Yaremko at St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto on Sunday afternoon, December 7, 2014, to launch a new volume of Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s “History of Ukraine-Rus’” and to honor the volume’s sponsor. The event was organized by the Peter Jacyk Center for Ukrainian Historical Research of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (University of Alberta) together with St. Vladimir Institute and the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center of Toronto. Volume 10 of the history, subtitled “The Cossack Age, 1657-1659,” is the last of Hrushevsky’s multivolume work to be written by the master historian.
“Negotiating Human Rights: In Defence of Dissidents during the Soviet Era: A Memoir,” by Christina Isajiw. Edmonton, Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2013. ISBN: 1894865332, 9781894865333. $34.95 (paperback and CD). The CIUS Press publication, “Negotiating Human Rights: In Defence of Dissidents during the Soviet Era: A Memoir” by Christina Isajiw, with a foreword by Bohdan Nahaylo, is one of the first insider’s accounts of the efforts during the 1970s and 1980s on the part of Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their workers to bring aid and support to Ukrainian dissidents and activists.
WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and its Washington public relations bureau, the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), will sponsor the first in a series of advocacy events in Washington on March 4-5. During Ukrainian Days, the Ukrainian community will have an opportunity to express its concerns to members of Congress and encourage them to continue promoting and supporting a strong and effective U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. The new series of Ukrainian Days will be a follow-up to the Ukraine Freedom Support Act signed into law in December 2014. The event will reinforce Ukraine’s immediate security concerns of preserving its territorial integrity and sovereignty, maintaining border security, safeguarding its independence, and continuing economic reform. The two-day advocacy program is supported by the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), of which the UCCA is a founding member.