KYIV – Perhaps the first Ukrainian city to hear the national anthem on Independence Day was Russia-occupied Donetsk. At about 6 a.m. hidden loud speakers started blaring the first words of the anthem, “Ukraine hasn’t perished yet.” The daring audio performance lasted about 30 minutes as startled passersby gazed in bewilderment at the central intersection of Artem and Tamansky boulevards, according to a closed-captioned video posted by Novosti Donbass, an independent news outlet based in the Donetsk Oblast city of Sloviansk. That defiance toward ceaseless Russian aggression was on full display along Kyiv’s main thoroughfare of Khreshchatyk Street on August 24 during the country’s 25th year of renewed independence. President Petro Poroshenko had ordered a military parade for a third consecutive year intended to underscore the nation’s military capability. But it was the first year that highlighted hardware rolled fresh off factory floors and newly designed uniforms, marking Ukraine’s efforts to shed its outdated Soviet past.
“In view of the mortal danger surrounding Ukraine in connection with the state coup in the USSR on August 19, 1991; continuing the thousand-year tradition of state development in Ukraine; proceeding from the right of the nation to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, … the Verkhovna Rada… solemnly declares the Independence of Ukraine and the creation of an independent Ukrainian state – Ukraine.”
These are the words from the most important document in the contemporary history of Ukraine adopted 25 years ago to the day. Thirty years earlier, Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced to death for fighting for the state independence. Later on, he was “pardoned” (in quotes) and spent a decade in Soviet jails, concentration camps and exile. However, I am sure Levko Lukyanenko could not have been happier and could not have even dreamt of getting larger compensation and award for all his life sufferings than the opportunity to draft the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. We enjoy an occasion to think again of the role of personality in history.
The United States led the way with 121 medals won at the 2016 Rio Olympics. China (70), Great Britain (67) and Russia (56) rounded out the top four. Next were Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Italy. Ukraine ranked 22nd out of 207 participating nations, finishing amid countries like Poland, Jamaica, Cuba and Uzbekistan. This year’s total of 11 medals (two gold, five silver and four bronze) is down from 2012’s haul of 18, 2008’s total of 27 medals and 2004’s sum of 22 medals.
Vladimir Putin’s attempt to impose a longtime Kremlin loyalist as his ambassador to Ukraine, something Kyiv has rejected and prompted Moscow to say that it won’t appoint anyone else, highlights the Kremlin leader’s view of what diplomats are for, Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko says. For Mr. Putin, Mr. Yakovenko says, diplomats are not those who succeed by finding points of agreement among countries and thus minimize or avoid conflict but rather foot soldiers engaged in his war against other states whose job is to recruit allies within those states and misinform the world about what Russia is doing (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57A6415100DBD). By ignoring the customary practice of seeking agrement before announcing its preferred ambassador in Kyiv, Moscow sought to force Ukraine to accept Mikhail Babich, someone who has never had any involvement with diplomacy and can only be described as “an ambassador of war.”
Already twenty years ago, Babich figured out that “the most profitable business” in Russia is “love for Putin. And he began to involve himself in this in a professional way.” Not surprisingly, “such devotion and unqualified love have not remained unnoticed,” and Babich has received progressively more important assignments – none of which are about diplomacy. As Mr. Yakovenko points out, “diplomacy in international relations is the art of conducting talks with the goal of avoiding war.
Twenty-five years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. On behalf of the American people, I’m proud to join the Ukrainian people in marking this historic anniversary. As we have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine’s path has not always been easy. From the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who linked arms in a great human chain in 1990 to the fallen heroes of the Maidan, realizing the dream of independence has called on the solidarity and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people. The people of the United States, including proud Ukrainian Americans, have been honored to
partner with Ukraine on this journey. Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, embrace the vision of a strong and united Europe, and deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights.
KYIV – Ukrainian authorities have published excerpts from secret accounting ledgers of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s political party documenting more than $12.7 million in under-the-table payments that were earmarked for Paul Manafort, who chaired U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign until his resignation on August 19. Some of the 22 line items posted on the website of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) show payments of more than $1 million for Mr. Manafort’s “services,” while others describe the payments as being for “Manafort exit poll in real time,” “personal computers for Manafort” and simply “sociology” – possibly a reference to opinion surveys. The handwritten entries span nearly five years, from November 20, 2007, to October 5, 2012, when Mr. Manafort was working for Mr. Yanukovych’s ruling Party of Regions in Kyiv. Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia in 2014, after being pushed from power by protests over his decision to scrap plans for a landmark cooperation pact with the European Union and forge closer ties to Moscow instead. Mr. Manafort has come under fire over the revelations, first reported by The New York Times on August 14.
NEW YORK – Executive Board members of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, together with Bishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. and Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, met on August 8 with the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Following her warm words of welcome, Ambassador Yovanovitch briefly commented on her Foreign Service experience, as well as her personal background, stating that she was born in Canada to Russian immigrants. She also mentioned that, prior to her appointment as the next U.S. envoy to Ukraine, she’d preferred not to be posted overseas. However, given the current crisis in Ukraine, she felt it was her duty to assist the Ukrainian people. Following her introductory remarks, Ambassador Yovanovitch thanked the Ukrainian American community for its years of commitment to supporting Ukraine and expressed her desire to work closely with the community.
“Observers have greatly feared that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would start a small regional war this August. … “The parallels with the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war are striking. That conflict started with the Olympic games in Beijing. The United States president was a lame duck amid the presidential election campaign.
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – In time for Life Insurance Awareness Month in September, the Ukrainian National Association is offering an informative publication, “Guide to Life,” that not only provides facts and figures about the UNA, UNA products and UNA benefits, but also provides concise explanations of insurance products and their value in establishing financial well-being. In the guide, each UNA life insurance product is featured on a two-page spread that includes descriptions in Ukrainian and English, as well as a user-friendly rate chart. Readers will be able to easily calculate premiums for each UNA product. And since the UNA has received numerous requests for bilingual product descriptions, these can be especially valuable. According to recent studies by the life insurance industry, more than 40 percent of those surveyed believe they need, or could benefit from, life insurance, but have not bought it, or bought more of it, because they are unsure of how much or what type to buy.
Seems it all started on or about August 10. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of plotting a terrorist attack on Crimea and cited a purported confrontation with two Ukrainian “saboteurs” that resulted in the deaths of two Russian servicemen. “There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” Mr. Putin said on state television, according to The New York Times. “But I would like to turn to our American and European partners. I think it is clear now that today’s Kyiv government is not looking for ways to solve problems by negotiations, but is resorting to terror.