So here is it, the end of one year and the beginning of the next – so fittingly represented by this double issue dated December 25, 2016/January 1, 2017. Yes, dear readers, in your hands you are simultaneously holding the last issue of the year, and the first issue of the next year. It’s nice, at this point on the calendar, to have some good news to report about Ukraine after what was yet another tumultuous year. We are referring to the European Commission’s report on Ukraine (a story about that appeared on the front page of our previous issue), which cited “intense and unprecedented reforms.” The joint report released on December 13 by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, took a look at Ukraine’s implementation of the association agenda agreed upon by Ukraine and the EU. The summary to the report states: “In 2015 and 2016, Ukraine has undertaken intense and unprecedented reforms across a number of sectors of the economy and society, while its democratic institutions have been further revitalized.
Seven years ago, on January 1, 2009, the Russian state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom decreased the volume of gas shipped to Ukraine (90 million cubic meters per day as contracted in 2008). On January 2, gas shipments to European customers via Ukraine (up to 300 million cubic meters of gas per day), including Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland, reported drops in pressure and slight disruptions in supply as a result of the gas shut off by Russia. Romania reported gas decreases of 30 to 40 percent. Gazprom claimed in November 2008 that Ukraine was in violation of its gas agreements, citing late payment penalties totaling $614 million and an outstanding balance of $2.1 billion. A contract for 2009 was not signed as a result of the dispute, and deliveries by Gazprom to Ukraine were halted.
2017 Epistle of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine to the faithful entrusted to our spiritual care at the Holy Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Dearly Beloved Clergy, Monastics and Faithful Brothers and Sisters:
Christ is born! Let us glorify Him! “Behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.
Every year, Ukrainian Catholic bishops from all over the world gather together for a weeklong synod. The 2016 synod was held in the town of Briukhovychi, not far from Lviv. Every synod has a main theme that guides the discussions and this year, because this is the Year of Mercy, the bishops chose to focus on the ministry of the Church. The bishops addressed many angles of this ministry, but they also wanted to hear about the charitable ventures of a Ukrainian Catholic church beyond the boundaries of Ukraine. St. John’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Newark, N.J., runs numerous charitable projects and the bishops asked Ksenia Hapij to speak to the synod about what the parish does and how it accomplishes its work.
When I was a child growing up in Ohio, the Christmas Eve service at my mother’s church was always the best part of Christmas – I loved the Christmas Carols. Ever since then I have searched every year for a special choir to bring back that childhood memory. I think I have found that memory once more in the choir at the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Miami. It doesn’t matter if I don’t speak Ukrainian – the beauty of the a cappella harmonies was so uplifting that I didn’t need to understand all of the words. The sweet soprano of the ladies contrasting with the resonant bass and baritone of the men, the blending of voices, the powerful swelling of meaningful moments, the softness of the spiritual – it was all so spellbinding to me.
WASHINGTON – According to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017, which was passed on December 8, the amount authorized to be provided for security assistance to Ukraine, including lethal assistance, is up to $350 million. That is a $50 million increase from the amount authorized in the NDAA of 2016. Security assistance and intelligence support for Ukraine has been expanded to include equipment and technical assistance to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine for the purpose of developing a comprehensive border surveillance network, as well as training for staff officers and senior leadership of the military. The defense bill now awaits signing by the president. The Embassy of Ukraine in the United States noted: “We appreciate the bicameral and bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for Ukraine in our fight against the ongoing Russian aggression.”
TORONTO – Valentina Kuryliw, director of education of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC), University of Alberta, traveled to Ukraine this past September to deliver master classes for educators as part of a symposium on new methodologies for teaching the Holodomor. The symposium “The New Ukrainian School: Teaching about the Holodomor and other Genocides” took place in Kyiv on September 9-10, and was attended by teachers from throughout Ukraine. Among those present was Ukraine’s reformist minister of education, Liliya Hrynevych. While research on the Holodomor has increased in recent years, the Famine has yet to be integrated into curricula at all levels of education in Ukraine, and many Ukrainian teachers are only now beginning to consider how the topic should be taught in the 21st century classroom. “The symposium was the first of its kind,” remarked Ms. Kuryliw, “where teachers, methodologists and researchers gathered to exchange ideas on how the Holodomor and other genocides can be incorporated and taught in a multi-disciplinary framework.”
Among the topics addressed at the symposium were teaching methodologies, developments in research on the Holodomor, the deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other genocides.
WASHINGTON – The Embassy of Ukraine and the Office of the Defense Attaché honored the Foundation of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA Foundation) among others at an awards ceremony on December 15 for organizations that provide assistance in the training of Ukrainian medical personnel and volunteers who care for wounded soldiers. The UMANA Foundation, the non-profit educational and scientific arm of UMANA, partnered with the World Federation of Ukrainian Medical Associations (WFUMA-U.S.) and the California Association to Aid Ukraine (CAAU) to raise funds enabling the teaching of Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) as well as U.S. Department of Defense Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) courses to medical personnel in Ukraine. A key component of this training includes expensive sophisticated technical manikins used for realistic training of responses to trauma. These manikins include total body simulators, as well as specialized anatomical units for injured extremities, blood pumping systems and airway management. In 2015, the UMANA Illinois Branch debutante ball’s fund-raising proceeds were earmarked to provide the Ukrainian medical community with such manikins.
UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly has passed a resolution that recognizes Crimea as “temporarily occupied” by Russia and condemns the “abuses” and “discrimination” against Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and other groups on the peninsula. The General Assembly vote on December 19 was 70 in favor and 26 against the resolution, with 77 countries abstaining. The resolution also calls on Russia, as an “occupying power,” to end all abuses against people living in Crimea, including arbitrary detentions, torture and other “cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.” Serhiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s vice minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement after the General Assembly’s vote that the human rights situation on Crimea had “deteriorated sharply” since Russian forces took control of the Ukrainian territory in February 2014 and illegally annexed it. Mr. Kyslytsya noted that the latest report on Crimea by the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, released on December 8, described the situation since Russia took control as a “climate of repression against dissenting voices.” The General Assembly resolution was first approved by the U.N.’s human rights committee on November 15. Russia had lobbied against the resolution, calling it “politically motivated” and “one-sided.” (RFE/RL)
Verkhovna Rada passes 2017 budget
KYIV – Ukraine’s Parliament has approved a budget for 2017, raising its chances of securing more aid from the International Monetary Fund under a $17.5 billion loan package.
NEW YORK – From September 11 to November 27, honoring the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, The Ukrainian Museum hosted not one, but two, complementary exhibitions of collectable pieces of official history issued by independent governments of free Ukraine. The larger exhibition, “In Metal, On Paper: Coins, Banknotes and Postage Stamps of Independent Ukraine, 1991-2016,” was curated by Dr. Yuri Savchuk, senior research associate at the Institute of History of Ukraine at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU). The exhibit itself was organized by The Ukrainian Museum, along with the National Bank of Ukraine, Ukrainian State Enterprise of Posts (“Ukrposhta”) and the Institute of History of Ukraine at NANU. The parallel exhibition, “Money, Sovereignty and Power: The Paper Currency of Revolutionary Ukraine, 1917-1920,” focused on paper money only, and was based on a traveling exhibition curated by Bohdan Kordan, professor and director of the Prairie Center for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage (PCUH) at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, and organized by the PCUH, along with the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. Together, these two exhibitions showcased monetary and philatelic instruments from two prominent periods of independence throughout Ukraine’s history.