TUCSON, Ariz. – An evening celebrating the poetry and art of Taras Shevchenko took place on March 13, at the University of Arizona Student Union Gallery. Organized by the Ukrainian American Society of Tucson, the extensive and professionally prepared exhibit was provided by the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco. Shevchenko’s poems in translation and his paintings on Ukrainian, Kazakh and architectural themes were strategically placed in the gallery so that visitors could easily follow a developing theme. Also displayed was Yuriy Terleckyj’s extensive collection from Ukraine of works by Shevchenko.
KYIV – The Ukrainian Association of Charity Givers recognized Ukraine’s best NGOs during its third annual awards ceremony on March 12. This year, Ukraine’s First Lady Maryna Poroshenko and former First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko presented statuettes to the 13 winning organizations, who were recognized in categories ranging from best large business doing charitable work to best children’s charity. The Kyiv-based International Alliance for Fraternal Assistance was recognized in the category of the best local charitable NGO. Above, IAFA director and co-founder Viktoriia Voronovych speaks after receiving her award; her partner, Yurii Mosin, stands behind her. The IAFA was profiled in The Ukrainian Weekly in the issue dated November 2, 2014.
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Ukrainian opera singer Oleg Bryjak was among the 144 passengers and six crew members who died when Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 crashed in the south of France on March 24 during a morning flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Germany. Among those killed aboard the Airbus A320 were two babies traveling with their mothers and 16 schoolchildren on their way home from a nine-day exchange trip to Spain. The dead included Germans, Spaniards, Australians, Americans, Japanese, British and passengers of other nationalities. Mr. Bryjak, a bass-baritone, had just completed performances in Barcelona in the opera “Siegfried” by Richard Wagner. He performed along with the German-born contralto Maria Radner, 33, who was on the doomed flight with her baby and husband.
Twenty-five years ago, on April 1, 1990, The Ukrainian Weekly’s editorial noted the independence movement in Lithuania and the subsequent Soviet military action in response. It also criticized the lack of response by the White House. The editorial explained: “On Tuesday, March 27, , Soviet troops swooped down on hospitals where Lithuanian deserters from the Soviet Army were being sheltered. Some of the deserters who were captured said they had been beaten. The Lithuanian Information Center in New York reported that armed paratroopers had stormed the Maujoji Vilnia hospital and attacked the young men who found safety there under the auspices of the Lithuanian Red Cross.
During the year since the forceful and illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, the international community has remained largely silent in its words and invisible in its actions in working toward the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Although sanctions have been put in place, some countries in Europe are indicating a lessening of pressure on Russia in a bid to get on with business as usual. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is charged with monitoring Russia’s war in Ukraine, seems out of step with its governing democratic principles. Both Lithuania and Ukraine reacted with outrage at the refusal of the OSCE to hold a joint exhibition on March 19 that was to mark the first year of Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Six months prior, the OSCE had hosted a Russian propaganda exhibit “Ukraine: Beyond the Red Line” during the 2014 OSCE conferences in Warsaw, as reported by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.
As Russians become aware of the costs that Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine entail ever fewer of them in the Russian Federation itself say they support what he has been doing. But backing for Mr. Putin’s policies remains high in the Russian diaspora, where its members have easier access to information sources not controlled by the Kremlin. The softening of support at home for Mr. Putin’s policies is the subject of an article by Aleksey Gorbachev in the March 23 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta (ng.ru/politics/2015-03-23/3_crimea.html). The continued high levels of support among Russians abroad is explored by Novy Region-2’s Kseniya Kirillova (nr2.com.ua/blogs/Ksenija_Kirillova/Pyataya-kolonna-rossiyan-v-Amerike-92842.html). Mr. Gorbachev, political observer for Nezavisimaya, reports that a new Levada Center poll shows that “the share of those who have doubts” about the correctness of the annexation of Crimea “is slowly but constantly growing,” with fewer than a year ago feeling this was the triumph of justice (28 percent against 31 percent) or approving it (44 percent instead of 47).
The March 4 Ukrainian Day in Washington gave our team an opportunity to visit our congressional representative’s staff and express our concerns that the U.S. must help Ukraine stay free and provide tools to defend itself against Russian aggression and the annexation of Ukrainian territory. We spoke of the Budapest Memorandum and how Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security assurances. We asked questions, we discussed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act passed by the 113th Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. And we asked what we could do to get the U.S. to implement this act’s provisions, which are urgently needed, before it’s too late. We also spoke of Ukrainian communities in Utica and Binghamton, N.Y. We urged our congressman to join the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.
All went black. In that second, I felt I would burst a vessel in my brain. The absurdity of what I heard really caught me off guard. I attended the showing of “Music of Survival,” a new documentary on Ukrainian history and culture of the 20th century. It was fascinating and very well researched and presented – a real achievement.
The Complete Kobzar: The Poetry of Taras Shevchenko, translated from the Ukrainian by Peter Fedynsky. London: Glagoslav Publications, 2013. 450 pp., paperback and hard-cover. Over the years I have come across many English translations of the poetry of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s poet laureate. Books by C.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell as well as Vera Rich come immediately to mind.
PHILADELPHIA – Ukraine’s national Alpine ski team competed on February 2-16 at the FIS World Championships at Beaver Creek-Vail in Colorado. Coached and trained by Tim Ershov and Ales Brezavzcek, Ukraine’s Alpine ski team members at the championships included three men, Rostyslav Feshchuk, Dmytro Mytsak and Ivan Kovbasnyuk, and three women, Bogdana Matsotska, Tetyana Tikun and Olha Knysh. As reported in a previous article (February 15), a sponsorship by the Ukrainian American Sport Center Tryzub aided the Ukrainian team’s appearance at the world championships. On January 31, the Denver area Ukrainian American community, along with the local pastor, the Rev. Vasyl Hnatkivsky, greeted the skiers at Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church. Community members Bohdan Fedynsky and Orest Pazuniak marshalled the effort to assist the Ukrainian team with room, board and other such issues, as they arose.