KYIV – It’s been more than a year since former President Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine, and no one from his entourage has been arrested by the Ukrainian government, let alone prosecuted, for the murders during the Euro-Maidan protest. Never mind the billions alleged to have been pilfered in corruption schemes. [Former Finance Minister Yurii Kobolov was arrested by Spanish police but has yet to be extradited to Ukraine. The government has seized his property in Ukraine.]
The latest Yanukovych insider to elude arrest was Serhii Kliuyev, who is widely believed to have fled the country within days after Ukraine’s Parliament voted on June 3 to strip him of his political immunity. By June 10, he was declared missing by Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the internal affairs minister, who confirmed a week later in Parliament that he fled to Russia through the occupied territories of Donbas.
KYIV – The United States has to lead the free world in countering the naked aggression of Vladimir Putin against Ukraine and must urgently provide it with defensive weapons, intelligence and any necessary assistance, Sen. John McCain said at a joint press briefing with Sens. Tom Cotton and John Barrasso here at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center on June 20. Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) underscored that the U.S. Senate had voted unanimously in favor of arming Ukraine. “We will urge President Barack Obama to implement the will of the Congress and that of the American people,” he said, arguing that the current reluctant support of Ukraine by the United States and Europe is “shameful and disgraceful.”
The energy dependence of European Union member states on Russian resources might be one of the factors that prevents them from taking decisive actions against the latter’s military aggression in eastern Ukraine. “We can export more energy resources to our Western allies, NATO member-states and Ukraine in order to provide the means of economic security,” noted Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
PITTSBURGH – To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ukrainian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, an audience of 170 gathered on Sunday, June 7, at the Frick Fine Arts Building Auditorium for a concert of Ukrainian music, song and dance. The Ukrainian Nationality Room is one of 29 nationality classrooms at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, reflecting the city’s rich ethnic heritage. After years of grassroots fund-raising, the Ukrainian Nationality Room was completed and dedicated on June 17, 1990. Dr. Roman G. Kyshakevych, chairman of the Ukrainian Nationality Room Committee at the University of Pittsburgh, welcomed the audience and invited guest E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kyshakevych narrated a slideshow of historical photographs created by architect Rostyslav V. Boykowycz that documented the room’s design and building, and highlighted many of the architectural and artistic features of the room, including its intricate woodcarvings and metalwork and colorful ceramics.
Following his appointment as chairman of the oblast state administration (or governor) of Odesa by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 2, 4, 5), Georgia’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has outlined his policy priorities in the post newly entrusted to him. Mr. Saakashvili holds a strong political mandate from the Ukrainian president to jump-start reforms in this oblast, against daunting challenges. However, Ukraine’s legal and administrative system makes it difficult for the president to use – or provide the governor with – instruments of power commensurate to the magnitude of the appointed task in Odesa (see EDM, June 22). In a series of inspection visits, conference presentations and media statements, Saakashvili has broadly outlined a program of reforming this oblast. Starting from personnel issues, the program looks at a short-term horizon of six months and a follow-up stage beyond that.
KYIV – A roundtable discussion to promote cooperation between the Ukrainian authorities and Kyiv-based Embassies and Consulates to prevent human trafficking was held on June 19 with the support of the Ukraine project coordinator of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The event brought together representatives from the visa sections of Embassies and Consulates in Ukraine with the aim of increasing their awareness of trafficking and their roles in combating this crime. Particular attention was paid to cooperation with the law enforcement authorities, including the specialized anti-trafficking unit within the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry, the State Migration Service and the State Border Guard Service, especially in light of the new human trafficking risks brought on by the current situation in Ukraine. “The main purpose of our annual event is to update consular officials on the new human trafficking trends in Ukraine and response efforts by authorities and NGOs,” said Ambassador Vaidotas Verba, OSCE project coordinator in Ukraine. “This is an opportunity to enhance cooperation among all the stakeholders, including visa sections of foreign Embassies and Consulates located in Ukraine, in order to improve assistance to victims of this crime, or to the people who are in risk of being trafficked.”
The meeting was attended by the OSCE’s special representative and coordinator for combating trafficking in human beings, Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova, who emphasized the importance of identifying victims of human trafficking and prevention work among communities of internally displaced people and in eastern Ukraine.
BELGRADE – The chairperson-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Serbia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dačić, on June 22 appointed Ambassador Martin Sajdik (Austria) as his new special representative in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group. He follows Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini (Switzerland) who, having fulfilled this assignment for one year, expressed her wish to step down. “Ambassador Sajdik is a very experienced diplomat with a broad scope of knowledge, ranging from international law to multilateral affairs, and we are very glad to welcome him to the team,” Mr. Dačić said. “Let me also thank Ambassador Tagliavini for her outstanding performance and the contribution to the diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis in and around Ukraine, which has proven to be invaluable. Well-respected by all for her diplomatic skills and commitment, she will be sorely missed.
KYIV – The national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), Paul Grod, concluded a five-day working visit to Ukraine (June 6-10). Mr. Grod accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada as part of the delegation for Mr. Harper’s June 6 visit to Ukraine in advance of the G-7 summit in Germany. “On behalf the Ukrainian Canadian community, I thank Prime Minister Harper for his important and timely visit to Ukraine ahead of the G-7 Summit, and for his strong and unequivocal advocacy for Ukraine at the G-7 summit,” Mr. Grod said. The UCC president also participated in the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) delegation led by President Eugene Czolij, that also included Vice-President Olena Koszarny, Executive Committee member Zenon Potichnyj, Secretary General Stefan Romaniw, and Ukraine Mission Director Serhiy Kasyanchuk. Following a working meeting with President Petro Poroshenko (see The Ukrainian Weekly, June 21), the UWC leadership attended a ceremony at which the president presented the Hero of Ukraine award (posthumously) to the family of Senior Lt. Ivan Zubkov, who died heroically defending the Donetsk airport.
The following statement by Olena Koszarny, chair of Ukraine Advisory Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) was released on June 23. Dear Friends,
Last week was a week of which both Canadians and Ukrainians should be very proud. On June 6, the prime minister of Canada officially visited Ukraine on his way to the G-7 meetings in Germany, once against demonstrating that Canada stands firmly beside Ukraine. His statements clearly set forth Canada’s position: “I don’t think Russia under Vladimir Putin belongs in the G7. Period,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Associated Press.
WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian National Credit Union Association (UNCUA) held its 34th annual meeting and spring conference on June 5-6 in Washington. Thirty-one participants representing 13 Ukrainian American credit unions gathered to hear presentations on current topics of interest to credit union leaders and to elect a new board of directors. The conference commenced Friday morning with welcoming remarks by UNCUA Chair Wasyl Kornylo, UNCUA President Orysia Burdiak, and special guest Olya Sheweli, president of the World Council of Ukrainian Cooperatives (WCUC). Presentations on topics of interest to the credit union industry followed, such as developing a member experience culture, the Bank Secrecy Act, trends and challenges in the U.S. credit union industry, and a briefing on the legislative, political and regulatory issues in Washington. Dana Boyko of Toronto, currently a Ph.D. candidate in economics at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich, presented the delegates with her findings on the financial performance of Ukrainian American credit unions during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
NEW YORK – The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) hosted Josef Zissels, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and executive vice-president of the Congress of Ethnic Communities of Ukraine, at its New York City offices. The June 11 gathering, which was attended by members of the local Ukrainian community, allowed for Mr. Zissels to share his thoughts on the current situation in Ukraine and the plight of ethnic minorities in a country under military attack. Mr. Zissels, a 69-year-old former dissident who spent time in the gulag on charges of “defaming the Soviet political and social system,” did not hold back when addressing the political and military realities on the ground as they relate to Russia. Far more pressing in his mind is the fight against corruption in his native Ukraine, which will require a generational shift in attitudes towards everyday graft. He said he believes that, without a concerted effort in educating Ukrainians on this issue, fighting corruption will continue to be an uphill battle.