NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Ukrainian National Association Branch 414 hosted its 14th annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 9 on the grounds of St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church. The event attracted children between the ages of 1 and 10, with children preparing Easter cards for the parish shut-ins. During the festivities, children played games and hunted for the eggs and candy.
“Ukraine is returning home.” Those were the words of President Petro Poroshenko on May 11, when European Union member states approved the long-awaited waiver of visa requirements for Ukraine. Three days later, at a press conference in Kyiv, Mr. Poroshenko cited Ukraine’s closer ties with the European Union as a major achievement. That same day he participated in a flag-raising ceremony on the occasion of Europe Day in Ukraine – a day that has become all the more significant, he said, due to Ukrainians’ sacrifices during the Euro-Maidan-turned-Revolution of Dignity (2013-2014) when the people rose up to defend the country’s European future and to demonstrate that their country’s civilizational choice was with Europe, not the “Russian world.”
Mr. Poroshenko also cited Russia’s all-out effort to impede Ukraine’s movement toward the West: “Only crazy people can consider Ukraine to be part of the so-called ‘Russian world.’ Ukraine is part of a united Europe stretching from Lisbon to Kharkiv. For three years Russia has tried everything to block Ukraine’s path towards the EU. But nothing will stop our path to Europe.”
On May 17, the Ukrainian president was in Strasbourg, at the European Parliament, for the signing ceremony for the new visa-liberalization regime.
Last year, on May 31, 2016, Ukrainian military aviator Nadiya Savchenko was sworn in as a lawmaker in Ukraine’s Parliament, known as the Verkhovna Rada. She joined as a member of the Batkivshchyna Party, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister of Ukraine. The 35-year-old was greeted as a war hero after her release on May 25, 2016, after over two years in Russian custody (708 days), and in her first appearance at Parliament reminded the lawmakers to urge the return of the “prisoners of the Kremlin.”
“I’m back, and I won’t let you forget,” she said. “I won’t let you, who sit in these chairs in the Verkhovna Rada, forget those guys who died at the Maidan and who currently are dying in the Donbas.”
The same effort that was made to free her should be used to free the remaining prisoners being held by the Kremlin, Ms. Savchenko said. She removed a banner with her picture on it that was draped around the rostrum, and replaced it with pictures of prisoners who remain in the Kremlin’s custody.
For Russians, Victory Day is an ever more important date; but they act as if May 9 was the end of history and fail to see that the Soviet Army, which liberated Eastern Europe from the Nazis, became an occupying force for almost half a century. Moscow commentator Tatyana Ross says that because Russians are encouraged by the Kremlin to view Victory Day in isolation from what followed, they view the reaction of Eastern Europeans to those events as efforts at “revision of the results of the Great Fatherland War” and as an impermissible defense of Hitler’s aggression (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59189 F3F19487). Russians don’t ask themselves why, after the Red Army liberated Eastern Europe, it didn’t go home but instead “left in all the liberated countries ‘a limited contingent’ of its forces” for decades, Ms. Ross says. And they don’t see the ways the liberation led to the occupation and the occupation led to Budapest, Vilnius and all the rest. “If Russia would just recognize and then condemn the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe,” Ms. Ross says, she “does not have any doubts that [the Red Army] would be viewed there as heroes who liberated [Eastern Europe] from German fascism.
Vladimir Putin, who exploited Russian euphoria over the Anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea three years ago to boost his own power, now wants Russians to pay less attention to that region so that they will not be as inclined to complain about the costs to them of that annexation, according to Yevgeniya Goryunova. “Russian euphoria about the annexation of Crimea has significantly weakened under the press of social and economic problems,” the Crimean political scientist says. “The Crimean theme is losing its importance,” and the only aspect of it that Moscow outlets now talk much about is the Kerch bridge (ru.krymr.com/a/28489804.html). In 2014-2015, Mr. Putin made “the sacred importance” of Crimea the centerpiece of his speeches, but already by 2016, as the economic crisis in Russia deepened and the costs of the occupation became more obvious, he shifted away from this theme. And by the end of that year, the Kremlin leader mentioned the annexed peninsula only in passing.
The Ukrainian World Congress issued the following statement on May 18. May 18, 2017, marks the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea in 1944 on the order of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. On this day, declared in 2015 as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar people by the Parliament of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars were deported from the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine to various regions of the Soviet Union, with close to half perishing either during the journey or within a year of being exiled. The Crimean Tatars returned to the peninsula in 1987, and in March 2014 once again faced persecution, and the curtailment of human rights and fundamental freedoms with the illegal occupation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation. The representative assembly, Crimean Tatar Mejlis, remains banned by the occupying Russian authorities, having been branded as an extremist organization.
There is an old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s been a long time since the world order has hovered on the brink as it is doing now. In the European Union, some members are leaving, while others are reversing course from open societies to insular ones. North Korea is flexing its nuclear power. The Middle East is chronically unsteady, while Palestine and Israel are geometrically apart on a settlement.
“Today, we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of deportation of Crimean Tatars from their historic homeland – Crimea. We remember with compassion other ethnic groups of Crimea that faced this challenge: Germans, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Karaites and others. …Deportation is a crime without a statute of limitations and criminals who cold-bloodedly planned this act of genocide are not eligible for forgiveness. … “In 2014, shortly before the 70th anniversary of [this] deportation, post-Soviet but still authoritarian Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea.
Many thanks to Eugene Stakhiv for the very interesting and informative article on “Ukraine’s technological ‘fingerprints’ ” (April 8). It is indeed important for us to realize the many contributions that Ukrainians have made to the world of science. I would like to add the name of one more remarkable Ukrainian physicist, who among other notable scientific accomplishments, also happened to translate the Bible into Ukrainian. Recently I was perusing a book on unusual short stories on “science and life,” with the interesting title of “The Kindly Dr. Guillotine” by the biophysicist Harold J. Morowitz. In his chapter on “Continuing Education,” he describes his long quest to find out more about the co-discoverer of X-rays, the Ukrainian physicist Johann (Ivan) Puluj.