Stalin’s Great Terror wasn’t so bad, Russia’s central television suggests

The evolution in official Russian treatment of Joseph Stalin continues. He is no longer a tyrant, nor is he an effective manager who may have occasionally exceeded the bounds of the acceptable. Now, the late Soviet dictator is being refashioned into a great leader without modification who is unjustly attacked by the opponents of Russia. An indication of this latest shift came on March 24 during Roman Babayan’s talk show on Russian central television, which was broadcast under the title “1927: Remembering Everything” ( and reviewed by Irina Pavlova at As the U.S.-based Russian historian points out, the Moscow television program was timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the February-March 1937 plenum of the Bolshevik Party’s Central Committee, an event which “is typically considered as the beginning of the Great Terror.”

Mr. Babayan’s show was “shocking,” Ms. Pavlova continues, because it shows that, despite all the available documentation about what happened in the late 1930s, Russians “know practically nothing about it” and are prepared to accept the line, offered by “liberal historian” Yury Pivovarov that 1937 was simply “a quarrel among the ruling group.”

Unfortunately, she continues, there is nothing surprising in the fact that “these people even today do not understand what took place, do not see in the arrests of governors, siloviki and entrepreneurs signs of the very same Great Terror that occurred in 1937 and do not include in this picture the arrests of ordinary Russian citizens and dissidents.”

And when one individual in the audience, Yan Rachinsky of Memorial, attempted to raise these issues, he was told by the host to shut up because the human rights activist supposedly was only going to present what foreign governments that have given his organization money want him to say.

“…a resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist. Countries along Russia’s periphery, especially Ukraine and Georgia, are under threat from Moscow’s malign influence and military aggression. “…Moscow intends to re-emerge as a global power, and views international norms such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights as components of a system designed to suppress it. Therefore, Russia seeks to undermine this international system and discredit those in the West who have created it. …

Penn State University to mark three 25th anniversaries

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Woskob Family Foundation, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and 25 years of Ukrainian studies at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., on Tuesday, April 4. The event will also mark 25 years of cooperation in Forestry and Agricultural Sciences with the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences (NULES) in Kyiv. The rector and representatives of NULES will be in attendance at the daylong series of events. The schedule for the day includes the following:

• 3 p.m. – Helen Woskob’s memoirs “Freedom and Beyond: My Journey from Ukraine to a New Life in America,” as well as Prof. Michael Naydan’s novel about the city of Lviv, “Seven Signs of the Lion,” will be launched at the Hintz Alumni Center on the Penn State University Park campus.

Cleveland debutante “zabava” hosted by Plast sororities

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – The Plast sororities Buryverchy and Shostokryli hosted their debutante ball at the Holiday Inn – Cleveland South, in Independence, Ohio, on February 18. This year, five young women, all in their lovely white gowns and accompanied by their escorts, were presented to Cleveland’s Ukrainian community before a packed ballroom. The evening began as emcees Maria Zachary Kyffin (of the Buryverchy) and Taissa Zappernick (of the Shostokryli) presented the debutantes as they walked in, listing each one’s many accomplishments. Approximately 300 dinner guests, some from as far away as Arkansas and Ontario, watched as each debutante walked to center stage on the arm of her father to take the traditional bow before many family members, friends and guests. Following the presentation, the debutantes and their escorts danced to a beautifully choreographed waltz arranged by Andrea Komichak Mural (a member of Plast’s Kniahyni sorority).

Chervona Kalyna Cotillion Ball presents 14 debutantes

PEARL RIVER, N.Y. – On February 11, over 400 members of the Ukrainian American community welcomed into society 14 young women from the New York metro area and capital region at the Chervona Kalyna Cotillion Ball held at the elegant Hilton Pearl River in Pearl River, N.Y.

The ball, known as “Vechornytsi,” is a tradition established in 1951 in New York City by members of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and military veterans who, upon emigrating to the U.S., revived the Lviv society balls of the 1920s and 1930s. Today, one of the main attractions of the ball is the presentation of debutantes, a custom begun with an impromptu introduction of young ladies in 1959. This year’s debutantes were a group of exceptional high school juniors and seniors. They distinguish themselves academically and athletically, participate in many extracurricular activities, and give their time as volunteers and leaders in their respective communities. Most of their escorts hailed from the New York region as well, with several from as far away as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Ten debutantes introduced at Plast ball in New Jersey

WHIPPANY, N.J. – On January 21, the Parents’ Association of the Newark branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization sponsored its annual debutante ball at the Hanover Marriot in Whippany, N.J. The debutante ball is a traditional event at which each debutante is formally presented to the community as a young lady. Nata Voronka Bilash and Borislaw Bilash, who served as this year’s masters of ceremonies, formally opened the event by welcoming the debutantes, their families and guests. After being formally introduced, each debutante was welcomed by guests as she was escorted through the center of the ballroom. This year’s debutantes included young ladies from the Newark branch of Plast, which is based in Whippany, and South Bound Brook, N.J.: Melanie Anne Boychuk (escorted by Ross Kujdych), Deanna Hanchuk (Danylo Duvalko), Adriana Hirniak (Max Chuma), Romana Hladky (Mykyta Duvalko), Sophia Hodowanec (Mark Kachai), Viktoriya Ivanyshyn (Danilo Kyzyk), Anna Kosachevich (Alexander Komarynsky), Juliana Orysia Ivanka Paslawsky (Matthew Bach), Julia Pavlyuk (Zack Firko), and Christine Starozytnyk (Darko Borsa). In their flowing white gowns, the debutantes danced gracefully with their escorts to a newly choreographed arrangement assembled by Natalia and Andriy Cybyk.

Engineers’ Society hosts Philadelphia Debutante Ball

PHILADELPHIA – The 63rd annual Engineers’ Banquet and Ball, with presentation of debutantes, sponsored by the Ukrainian Engineers’ Society of America, Philadelphia Chapter, took place on February 4 in the elegant Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Hotel at the Bellevue in Philadelphia. This gala event was, by all measures, a tremendous success. There were nearly 550 guests at the banquet, and a total of over 850 attended the ball. The Bellevue Grand Ballroom was full to overflowing, and a second ballroom was opened to accommodate all the guests. Archbishop Stefan Soroka, metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the U.S.A., opened the gala with a prayer for Ukraine and his blessing.

Ukrainian American Youth Association welcomes debutantes

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – On February 25, the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA, also known by the acronym CYM) held its 53rd annual debutante ball at the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, N.J. The ball marked the societal debut for 15 young women. This year’s group of women came from all over the tri-state area to be presented to a ballroom full of family, friends, UAYA members and other guests. The UAYA Debutante Ball, held under the auspices of the organization’s National Executive Board, is a longstanding tradition among UAYA members of the Northeast. The event has its roots in European court custom and was adopted in the mid-20th century by Ukrainian American diaspora organizations. This year’s debutantes joined the ranks of over 800 young women who were ceremonially presented in this rite of passage.

Seventeen debut at American Ukrainian Youth Association ball in Chicago

CHICAGO – The American Ukrainian Youth Association (known by the Ukrainian acronym CYM), Mykola Pavlushkov Branch in Chicago. hosted its annual New Year’s ball, or Malanka, on January 14 at the Drury Lane Theater and Conference Center. Guests arrived at 6 p.m. for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the foyer of the Grand Ballroom. Friends and family gathered to celebrate the New Year and greeted each other throughout the hour. Andrij Luczak Glubisz, master of ceremonies, opened the evening by welcoming and greeting over 700 guests, as well as encouraging the youth to be active and engaged members in the AUYA and to continue the work of their parents and grandparents.


NGO assets declaration becomes law 

KYIV – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed into law controversial amendments to the country’s anti-corruption legislation that require representatives of nongovernmental organizations to file assets declarations. Mr. Poroshenko on March 27 signed the amendments, which also relieve military officers of the obligation to file such declarations. The president said the measure acknowledges “the necessity of taking into account the interests of hundreds of thousands of servicemen who currently defend Ukraine from Russian aggression.” Earlier, British Ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough described the reporting requirement for NGOs as “a serious step back” for Ukraine that could “limit NGOs’ capacity” and “expose them to pressure.” The reporting requirement for NGOs takes effect in 2018, and Mr. Poroshenko agreed to create a working group with NGO representatives to discuss its implementation. In a meeting with NGOs in Kyiv on March 27, Mr. Poroshenko expressed his support for their efforts to fight corruption and said any political pressure or restrictions on their activity was inadmissible. (RFE/RL, based on reporting by the Kyiv Post and UNIAN)

Russian court issues warrant for Yatsenyuk

KYIV – A municipal court in the southern Russian town of Yessentuki has issued an arrest warrant for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.