WASHINGTON – On June 8, technical health experts joined members of the Ukrainian community on Capitol Hill for a roundtable discussion on immunization challenges in Ukraine. The event was moderated by Dr. Boris Lushniak, former acting U.S. surgeon general, and hosted by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (co-chair, Congressional Ukrainian Caucus) and the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. Other participants included: Dr. Patrick O’Connor, team lead (accelerated disease control, vaccine preventable diseases and immunization) at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe; Dr. Kateryna Bulavinova, senior health and communication advisor at UNICEF Ukraine; Dr. Roxolana Horbowyj, representative of the World Federation of Ukrainian Medical Associations; Yaroslav Brisiuck, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Ukraine in the U.S.; and (via video) Judyth Twigg, professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the March 2016 CSIS Global Health Policy Center report “Polio in Ukraine: Crisis, Challenge and Opportunity.” Roundtable participants discussed the reasons behind Ukraine’s very low rates of immunization coverage and will develop recommendations and strategies to urgently and substantially increase vaccination coverage in the country.
EDMONTON, Alberta – The Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton, Alberta hosted an appreciation evening on May 25 to honor three legislators of Ukrainian heritage who have done much for Alberta’s Ukrainian community. The honored guests included former Premier of Alberta Ed Stelmach and his wife, Marie; former Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly (MLA) and Speaker of the Assembly Gene Zwozdesky; and Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly Janice Sarich and her husband, Steve. The evening was opened by board member Yuri Andryjowycz. He used the opportunity to echo the good news received early in the day that political prisoner Nadiya Savchenko was released from a Russian prison and had returned to Kyiv. The president of the board of directors of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Council, Ivan Fedyna, acknowledged the great support received from the honored guests during their respective terms in office.
TROY, N.Y. – Members of St. Nicholas Brotherhood Society and Branch 13 of the Ukrainian National Association donned their work clothes on Saturday, May 21, to clean up around the Taras Shevchenko Memorial Monument located in a small pocket park in the city of Troy, N.Y.
In recent years, brotherhood members have assumed responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the Shevchenko monument. The cleaning crew this year included Slavko Tysiak, brotherhood president; Ivan Uruskyj, brotherhood treasurer; Mykola Fil, UNA Branch 13 secretary; and Roman Povoroznyk and Boris Matviyiv, brotherhood members. Land for the Taras Shevchenko Memorial Monument was donated by the city of Troy to create a small pocket-park to commemorate the bard of Ukraine. A statue of the great poet was unveiled on June 5, 1988, on the plot known as Taras Shevchenko Memorial Monument.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the umbrella organization for the Ukrainian community in Canada (i.e., the Canadian counterpart to our own Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, or UCCA), or as the UCC describes itself, “the voice of Canada’s Ukrainian community.”
To mark this major anniversary, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), Paul Grod, and Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, have been on a cross-Canada tour, visiting Ukrainian communities from east to west. Among their first stops were Toronto on April 8 and St. Catharines, also in Ontario, on April 9. In both cities, the community organized anniversary celebrations: a gala in Toronto was attended by 500 people, including members of Parliament; in St. Catharines an anniversary dinner drew some 160 guests.
Twenty years ago, on June 28, 1996, at 9:18 a.m., after a 16-hour marathon session of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament adopted a new Constitution with a vote of 315-36 with 12 abstentions. “We have a Constitution,” proclaimed Parliament Chairman Oleksander Moroz. The lawmakers were in a euphoric mood as they took group photos outside the Parliament building, then making their way to a celebratory reception, that The Ukrainian Weekly’s reporter Marta Kolomayets said was reminiscent of when Ukraine declared independence on August 24, 1991. “Today, we proved we are Ukrainians. Today we look so good compared to Russia.
Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, the philosopher said, while those who remember it can perhaps draw lessons from it and avoid tragedies in the future. Thus, it is indicative of the future of Russia and Ukraine that the former has gutted a museum devoted to the Gulag while the latter is getting ready to open one on totalitarianism. The travails of the Perm-36 museum, the only museum in Russia devoted to the Gulag organized by society but taken over by the state two years ago and transformed from a memorial to Stalin’s victims into a celebration of him and their jailors, has a long history. (See windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/03/moscow-closed-gulag-museum-because-it.html.)
But now things have taken a turn for the worse there. Many of the museum staff have resigned and, at the end of May, one of their number, Grigory Sarancha, the former deputy director, gave an interview about their reasons, an interview Boris Sokolov summarizes (zwezda.perm.ru/newspaper/ ?pub=17767 and day.kyiv.ua/ru/article/mirovye-diskussii/sideli-pravilno).
In 2007, in response to the call from teachers of Ukrainian language and literature, the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee pioneered a program-competition titled, “From childhood to Taras.” The purpose of this program was to promote and foster patriotism and identity among the youth of Ukraine through study and recitations of poems by Taras Shevchenko. This competition begins every year in March in villages. Then, the winners compete in districts, and the district winners compete in the finals in their oblasts. Those winners are awarded a two-day trip to Kaniv and Kyiv. On March 22, the first group of winners, schoolchildren from the Luhansk area, arrived in Kaniv to pay homage to the bard of Ukraine. The group consisted of 35 persons.
Testimony of Ambassador Marie L. (Masha) Yovanovitch, President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, delivered before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 21. The text was released by the U.S. Embassy Kyiv. Chairman [Bob] Corker, Ranking Member [Ben] Cardin, members of this committee. It is a privilege and an honor to appear before you today as President Obama’s nominee to serve as the United States Ambassador to Ukraine. If confirmed, I look forward to working with this committee and Congress to continue our strong support for the Ukrainian people, enhance our already deep bilateral relationship, support Ukraine’s reform agenda, and protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
WASHINGTON – Polish Americans and others rallied in front of the White House on Saturday, June 11, demanding the presence of U.S. military in Poland and strengthening NATO defensive capability in the region. The rally, organized by Federation of Polish Americans Inc. and the Polish American Congress, aimed to bring attention to the real threat Russia poses to Poland and to world peace. Rally participants urged President Barack Obama and his negotiating team at the upcoming NATO summit in Summit, to persuade NATO allies to deploy substantial NATO armed forces assets in Poland and the Baltic states to dissuade Russian aggression. Two Ukrainian Americans addressed the rally. Michael Sawkiw Jr., director of the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington public affairs bureau of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), and Jaroslaw Martyniuk, a former socio-political researcher with Radio Liberty.
WASHINGTON – Over 50 people gathered on Sunday, June 12, at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington to hear internationally known Ukrainian political commentator and essayist Mykola Riabchuk. Sponsored by the Washington chapter of the Shevchenko Scientific Society and delivered in Ukrainian, his lecture was titled “What is Left of ‘Two Ukraines’? New Divisions and New Connections in Ukrainian Society, 2014-2016.”
The event was chaired by Bohdana Urbanovych, who heads the District of Columbia chapter of the Shevchenko Scientific Society. Citing a variety of statistics, Mr. Riabchuk demonstrated that the stereotypical conception of “two Ukraines” – one patriotic and pro-Western, the other Russian and pro-Soviet – is misleading. For one thing, the “other” Ukraine does not have a Russian identity, but rather a different kind of Ukrainian identity. For another, the balance has changed in recent years, so that the patriotic and pro-Western portion of the population is now dominant.