Traditional remembrance events on the anniversary of journalist Heorhii Gongadze’s abduction and subsequent murder are especially poignant this year as they come just two months after the killing in Kyiv of Pavel Sheremet, the renowned Belarusian journalist and former prisoner of conscience. Ukraine’s media unions and other organizations have called on their colleagues to join in honoring their memory and that of all journalists who were killed while carrying out their work. There is hopefully no reason to suspect any officials or higher in Ukraine of involvement in Sheremet’s killing, or of unwillingness to carry out a proper investigation. There does not, however, seem to be any major progress in finding his killer. Sheremet, who was just 44, had resigned from Russian ORT two years earlier in protest at the virulent warmongering propaganda against Ukraine.
Wow! Someone is doing something right in Ukraine – one Ukrainian program is definitely succeeding. It is fantastic and astounding what Ukrainian Paralympians accomplished in Rio. Out of the 76 countries winning medals, Ukrainian Paralympians won 117, coming in third place, while beating such powerhouses as Germany, France, Italy and the U.S.A. Back in 2012, Paralympians from Ukraine won 84 medals, attaining sixth place among 76 countries. It takes trainers, facilities, dedicated participants, funds and especially determination to achieve such outstanding results on the international stage.
Challenges are something Ukrainians settling in Canada, and around the world, know well. Some 125 years ago it was the challenge of being among the first non-traditional (Anglo Celtic or French) groups to settle in Canada. Landing here was as foreign then as landing on the moon would be today; then, it was without the NASA support. The settlers were assigned plots at the end of the railway track and dumped to fend for themselves. There was no housing, no schools or hospitals, not even roads.
LVIV – In Lviv on September 11, the primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav, consecrated the unique, three-section University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, which is located on the territory of the Ukrainian Catholic University’s new campus. The University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God is a special shrine for Ukraine. It is three churches at once: The Crypt of the Lord’s Tomb, the Lower Church of St. Clement I, Pope of Rome, and the main University Church of the Holy Wisdom of God with the pastoral center. The architecture of the church presents the main moments of salvation history and calls visitors to a pilgrimage through the sacraments to a joyful mission in the world.
UNION TOWNSHIP, N.J. – On August 21, the Ukrainian community of Union Township, N.J., and surrounding areas commemorated the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence with the reading of a proclamation and flag-raising ceremony outside the Municipal Building. Unlike any other city or town in the United States, Union Township raises 30 Ukrainian flags in its town center and a banner reminding all passers-by that August 24 is Ukrainian Independence Day. The main speaker of this year’s event was Dr. Walter Zaryckyj, executive director of the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations. Remarks were also made by Union Township Mayor Manuel Figueiredo, Committeewoman Michele Delisfort and the Consul General of Ukraine in New York, Igor Sybiga, who attended with his family and delivered words of inspiration while welcoming the many Ukrainian Americans in Town Hall. A luncheon and celebratory program featuring the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the ensemble Udech followed at the Ukrainian Community Center in nearby Irvington, N.J. The Union Township Ukrainian Independence Day Committee thanked all of its sponsors and specifically its main sponsor, Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union.
WARREN, Mich. – Ukrainians in Metropolitan Detroit celebrated the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence with a prayer service for Ukraine and its people led by both Catholic and Orthodox priests, a keynote address assessing the progress Ukraine has made during its first 25 years of independence by Prof. Alexander Motyl and a celebratory concert by local talent, followed by a banquet and dance. The event was bittersweet, as it was hard to celebrate with Vladimir Putin’s continued occupation of Crimea and Russia’s unrelenting terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine. However, in his address, Prof. Alexander Motyl pointed out that many political pundits did not believe Ukraine would maintain its democracy for this long – and it has. In fact, he pointed out, in the last two years since Maidan and the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has stood up on the world stage and shown its resolve and commitment to freedom, self-determination and the rule of law. According to Prof. Motyl, “more has been accomplished in the last two years than in the entire 23 preceding Maidan.” Thus, we should take heart in those accomplishments and look to a better future.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Epiphany of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., commemorated the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence on Sunday, August 28, with a liturgy, plaque blessing, concert and refreshments. The day began with a liturgy celebrated by the Rev. Roman Badiak, which included a homily given by Pastor Bohdan Malski from the local Ukrainian Baptist Church.
“Ardor (or How would-be Nobel Prize Winner C. Milosz enjoyed the high life with low life in Italy, hobnobbed with a Viktor Yanukovych look-alike, and met his Muse on the rooftop of the Duomo,” by Alexander J. Motyl. Brownsville, Texas: Anaphora Literary Press, 2016. Paperback, 130 pp. $20. ISBN-10: 1681142430.
KYIV – Ukraine is marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II-era mass execution of 33,771 Jews at the Babyn Yar ravine with official remembrances at the killing site on the outskirts of Kyiv. The commemoration on September 29 will be attended by world leaders; Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is hosting the events. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who had been on a state visit to Ukraine, had to return to Israel on September 28 following the death of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres. The September 29-30 slaughter of Jewish men, women, and children at the Babyn Yar ravine in 1941 was an early example of the industrial-scale murder the Nazis would employ in their quest to annihilate the Jews. Overall, up to 100,000 more people were executed at Babyn Yar during the Nazi occupation of Kyiv.
As the Soviet regime took over southeastern Poland and western Ukraine in 1944, it implemented a plan to ethnically homogenize these regions and to eradicate widespread Ukrainian patriotic sentiment. They drew a border based on the World War I-era Curzon Line, dividing the new Polish People’s Republic from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. All Ukrainians and Poles living on the “wrong” side of the line were slated for deportation to the other side. Despite glowing propaganda about life in the Soviet Union, initially few Ukrainians relocated. The authorities then implemented increasingly violent tactics to coerce resettlement (Operation Rzeszow).