February 28 2015

Last year, on February 28, following the news that Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered in Moscow, analysts pointed to the event as evidence that the Russian Federation is run by the security services that are given free rein by President Vladimir Putin. Pavel K. Baev wrote in the Eurasia Daily Monitor about how the Russian Security Service (FSB) took a week to produce a pair of plausible suspects, with FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov reporting to Mr. Putin that two men – Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev – implicated in the crime were under arrest, while the following day, another man had killed himself with a hand grenade in Grozny. Mr. Putin’s appointed ruler in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, accused Western special services of organizing the murder to provoke internal conflict in Russia.  Any connection to the Chechen opposition would seem to be more plausible after treatment by the Russian state-sponsored propaganda. Mr. Baev argued that there were too many loose ends with the official explanation. Mr. Nemtsov was too closely followed by the FSB and the location of the murder was covered with surveillance cameras – factors that make it unlikely the assassination was carried out by Chechen freelancers.

Russian actions in Crimea undercut support there for annexation, historian says

In Russian-annexed Crimea, the worsening economic situation, and the cavalier behavior of nouveaux riches from elsewhere in Russia is changing the attitudes of the local population about the peninsula being part of the Russian Federation, a Moscow historian says. In the February 18 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Aleksandr Shirokorad says that these three factors are undermining support for integration and that at a minimum Moscow needs to consider introducing a longer transitional set of arrangements to prevent things going from bad to worse (ng.ru/regions/2016-02-18/3_kartblansh.html). He points out that “all territories joined to the Russian Empire for a lengthy period at a minimum of many decades had a special status and their own laws,” including Ukraine, Poland, Finland, the Caucasus, Central Asia “and others.” This was true “even in Soviet times” when western Belarus and western Ukraine from September 1939 to June 1941 had “special” status. “Why not give a special status to Crimea?” Mr. Shirokorad asks rhetorically. “The southern coast of Crimea and Sevastopol were a window of the Russian Empire and the USSR. Yes, there should be military bases in Crimea.

Corruption in Ukraine

“Dear friends; Ukraine’s grace period for tackling cronyism may have run out,” The Economist, February 13 (http://www.economist.com/news/europe/ 21692917-ukraines-grace-period-tackling-cronyism-may-have-run-out-dear-friends):

…Ukraine’s Maidan revolution was supposed to roll back corruption and cronyism. Mr. [Ukraine’s economy minister, Aivaras] Abromavicius, a Lithuanian-born investment banker, was one of several foreigners invited into government to change the old ways. He ran up against vested interests in the circles of both the president and the prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Mr. Abromavicius is the second economy minister since the revolution to quit for similar reasons, and the fifth minister to resign from the current government. Western ambassadors lamented his departure.

INSIGHT: An epochal meeting with epochal consequences

…the Moscow patriarch has not uttered a single word to condemn the military aggression of his country against Ukraine or the religious persecution on the occupied territories. Therefore, he has not fulfilled the requirement that he so eloquently invokes in the quoted passage [from the Joint Declaration]. Anyone who remembers my article “When diplomacy prevails over principles of faith” knows that I was not very hopeful about the planned meeting between Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill. However, I also did not want to write cautionary articles before the meeting. After all, Vatican diplomacy has not shown signs of recovery this year, and sometimes it is better to allow the boil to form because then the illness becomes more evident.

We are Americans of Ukrainian descent

Dear Editor:

In recent months, The Weekly has published four pieces on how Americans of Ukrainian descent “aren’t providing enough political help” to Ukraine (Oleh Wolowyna, October 18, 2015, and January 17, 2016; Orest Deychakiwsky, November 8, 2015; Andrij Dobriansky, February 14). As Ukraine is an independent country and these writers speak of voting in American elections – implying citizenship – I don’t understand why Americans of Ukrainian descent “should” be patriotic for a foreign land. My background (for statistical purposes): I was born in Detroit, am 37, have a M.S. in applied physics from the Naval Postgraduate School, live in the Pittsburgh area, and am a registered voter. I served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for over seven years, a job that required me to swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States; I voluntarily took that oath as, in part, I figured I owed America for it taking in displaced persons after World War II – which included my grandparents and parents – and allowing them the freedom to build successful lives. I have relatives in Ukraine and I consider it their country.

Post Euro-Maidan Ukraine: fighting a two-front war

Following the Euro-Maidan revolution, Ukraine has been waging a two-pronged fight that integrates domestic and foreign components. The first battle is Russia’s desire to dismember Ukraine, halt its European integration and return it to the “Russkii mir” (Russian world) sphere of influence. The second battle is to begin to effectively fight the scourge of high-level corruption and abuse of office, and bring to justice those who were guilty of bankrupting Ukraine and murdering protesters. Both of these battles affect Ukraine’s national security in many ways and they cannot be divorced from one another. The first battle has been largely a successful people’s war that was fought with the assistance of military and civil society volunteers who halted Vladimir Putin’s plans to separate eastern and southern Ukraine, his so-called Novorossiya (New Russia).

Yale University hosts exhibit about the Euro-Maidan

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Two years ago, events on Independence Square in Kyiv changed Ukraine, Europe and the West. What started out as a peaceful mass demonstration, the Euro-Maidan, to protest then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s abrupt decision to abandon his promise to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union and to opt instead to join the Eurasian Customs Union promoted by Russia, quickly morphed into a people’s “Revolution of Dignity” to protest government corruption, violence, usurpation of power, human rights abuses and disregard for the will of Ukraine’s citizenry. To commemorate and analyze this turbulent period of Ukraine’s history, the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and the Yale World Fellows program hosted the exhibition, “Maidan. Ukraine.

Ukrainian heritage plus Devils hockey equals power play event

NEWARK, N.J. – In the olden days of rock ‘em/sock ‘em hockey, fans would say they went to a fight and a hockey game broke out. On Sunday, February 14, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., fans went to a hockey game only to witness a Ukrainian festival. Ukrainians are nothing if not a very proud people with a rich culture based on many traditions, especially in the realm of performing arts. Moreover, when it comes to customs, music and dance, Ukrainians are very proficient at teaching their future generations the wealth and importance of these cultural traditions and celebrating them at public events. The Devils hockey franchise, located for 32 years in New Jersey, has built its own rich tradition with 22 winning seasons culminating with three Stanley Cup championships in nine years.

N.Y. Kozaks win inaugural “Alexander Cup” USCAK hockey tournament in Newark, N.J.

NEWARK, N.J. – The 2016 USCAK Hockey Tournament was held on Saturday, February 13, as part of the Ukrainian Hockey Weekend that also included the New Jersey Devils Ukrainian Heritage Day on Sunday, February 14.  The tournament was organized by the Ukrainian Sports Federation of the U.S.A. and Canada (USCAK) and featured four teams battling for the Alexander Cup in a round-robin format:  the Montreal Ukie Club, the New York Kozaks, the N.Y./N.J. Kings and the Toronto Kontakt Kozaks.  The games were held at the Prudential Center AmeriHealth Pavilion – the practice facility of the N.J. Devils. USCAK President Myron Bytz welcomed the teams during the opening ceremonies and also thanked all the sponsors, which included Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union, SUMA Yonkers Federal Credit Union, Selfreliance Ukrainian-American Federal Credit Union (Whippany, N.J.), Selfreliance New Jersey Federal Credit Union, the Ukrainian National Association, Tri-State Eye, Kontakt Ukrainian Television, TP Electric, the Irvington Ukrainian Center and Olympic Community Market. Tournament organizers Mark Howansky and Bob Rad were recognized for their efforts.  USCAK board members Ireneaus Isajiw and Walter Honcharyk, as well as Mayor Roman Hirniak of Randolph, N.J., were also on hand and participated in the ceremonial puck drop.  The national anthems of Canada, Ukraine and the United States were sung.  After an intermission, which treated the players and fans to a practice session of the Los Angeles Kings, the tournament resumed. In Game 1, the newly formed N.Y./N.J. Kings took advantage of a Toronto team tired from its travels and jumped out to a 3-1 lead with goals from Michael Betley and Adam Gojdycz (two). But Toronto found its legs in the third period and fought back valiantly to salvage a 3-3 tie.  Game 2 was a rematch of the Ukrainian Challenge Match in 2009 between the New York Kozaks and the Montreal Ukie Club.  The fast-paced game was a back-and-forth affair, before Bo Pryjmak scored the eventual game-winner plus an insurance goal to seal a 4-2 victory.  N.Y. Kozaks player/founder Taras Odulak and captain Sev Palydowycz were particularly proud of the club’s first ever win against Montreal in their 25-year series history.

Ivan Pasichnyk listed among Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30”

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Ivan Pasichnyk, 28, a co-founder and CEO of an energy savings start-up company, was named among the Forbes’ magazine’s “30 under 30” list that recognized young leaders, creative inventors and entrepreneurs. Mr. Pasichyk, who hails from Kyiv, helped launch a project called Ecois.me, which sells specially designed sensors that track electrical energy consumption, then the data is uploaded from the sensor to a website, and then to a mobile app that will advise tips on how to save energy – recognizing the most energy-efficient devices and finding ways to optimize the usage of various devices during energy consumption peaks. Ecois.me can reduce electricity bills by up to 20 percent for end customers. For utility providers, Ecois.me helps to reduce power peaks and offer their customers a value added service. Ecois.me is co-founded by Mr. Pasichnyk’s partners – Nazar Mokrinskiy, Anton Diatlov and Alexandr Diatlov – and the company’s value is estimated at $800,000.