Putin regime now ‘one grandiose fake’ from top to bottom, says commentator

Vladimir Putin’s use of a video showing American planes to impress Oliver Stone of the power of Russian ones “is not simply a curiosity,” Igor Eidman says, but rather “a diagnosis” because “the entire Putin regime is a grandiose fake,” with fake news, statistics, sociology, politics, power, Parliament and a fake president at the top. On his Facebook page, the Russian commentator, who works for Deutsche Welle, says that in Mr. Putin’s Russia “everything is a lie from top to bottom,” because officials constantly try to deceive and shift responsibility confident that only appearances matter and that no one will check (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1525648010831506&id=100001589654713). The Kremlin leader is trapped by this set of attitudes and arrangements, Mr. Eidman continues. Mr. Putin “tries to deceive his foreign partners, but his own subordinates crudely deceive him” at one and the same time because when he asks for something they deliver what they think he wants regardless of whether it is true. This story illustrates that perfectly.

Rising Russian approval of Stalin reflects passing of generation that experienced him

The share of Russians who approve the actions of Stalin during World War II has indeed risen over the last decade but not simply because of Kremlin propaganda, journalist Aleksandr Minkin says. It also reflects the passing of an entire generation who knew what he did and the rise of one for whom Stalin is only a distant historical figure. In a Moskovsky Komsomolets commentary, the Moscow journalist points out that the share of Russians approving Stalin’s actions during the war rose from 40 percent in 2005 to 50 percent this year, according to Public Opinion Foundation polls. But these are not the same Russians (mk.ru/politics/2017/06/21/lyubitelyam-stalina.html). Between 2005 and 2016, Mr. Minkin points out, 24 million Russian citizens died, most of them older, and were largely replaced by younger people.

Pass the Senate’s Russia sanctions bill in the House of Representatives

On June 14th, the U.S. Senate passed a crucial amendment to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (S. 722) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2. S. Amend. 232 adds new sanctions targeting various sectors in Russia’s economy and sanctions individuals affiliated with Russia’s defense sector. Critically, all existing sanctions imposed on Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea and its military invasion of Ukraine would become codified into law under this legislation.

Ukraine is “ground zero” for hackers in global cyberattacks

Ukraine’s heavy reliance on Russian technology impairs its ability to adequately defend against cyberattacks such as the Petya virus ravaging computers around the world and has helped make the country ground zero on the front lines of the global cyberwar. The “unprecedented” June 27 attack started in Ukraine, which hit government computer networks and websites of banks, major industrial enterprises, the postal service, Kyiv’s international airport and its subway system – before spreading to other countries and international companies around the world. Ukraine bore the brunt with more than 60 percent of the attacks, with the virus even hitting radiation-monitoring systems at the shuttered Chornobyl power plant, site of the world’s worst-ever nuclear accident. Engineers were forced to use manual operating plans after the virus locked up its computer system. Analysts from Microsoft and the Slovakian-based cybersecurity company ESET both said the attack targeted M.E.Doc, a Ukrainian tax-accounting software company, before the ransomware quickly spread to at least 64 other countries.

U.S. ambassador, speaking about rule of law, ‘tremendously optimistic about Ukraine’s future’

Below is a slightly abridged text of remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch at the presentation in Kyiv on June 26 of the Council of Europe Venice Commission Rule of Law Checklist. …When I was thinking about this over the weekend and, you know, what would I say and, you know I had to sort of stop for a moment, cause I wasn’t exactly sure what a Rule of Law Checklist actually is. …I am a practical person; I’m not somebody steeped in the law, as probably everybody else in this room is – I’m a practical person. And so, how do you connect the law, you know, the big concepts of rule of law, democracy and human rights, into something that actually makes people’s lives better? And so I love the fact that you are going to be presenting here practical things to think about to help guide this process in Ukraine.

The diaspora answers: United Help Ukraine assists in the face of Russian aggression

When Russian aggression in Ukraine escalated into occupation of Ukrainian territory, deadly conflicts and full-scale war, Ukrainian people at home and abroad joined together to defend the homeland.  Courageous Ukrainian men and women took a stand against a foreign super-power and, by their example, inspired a group of Ukrainian Americans to support Ukraine in this difficult time. Founded in 2014, United Help Ukraine, Inc. (UHU) has existed to ensure that the people on the frontlines are cared for when they come home wounded, and that their families are supported when the fighters do not come home at all.  UHU also provides support for those displaced from eastern Ukraine by the fighting. A charitable non-profit 501(c)(3), UHU is a 100-percent volunteer-based organization.  Over the past three years, its volunteers have dedicated tremendous time and effort to fulfilling UHU’s four principal initiatives: 1) Medical Aid, 2) Defender’s Aid, 3) Humanitarian Aid, and 4) Raising Awareness.  Thanks to their tireless work and the generosity of donors, UHU has raised more than $245,140 toward its four initiatives since the organization’s inception.  Together with hundreds of volunteer hours – and less than 0.7 percent of donations going toward operating costs – UHU has effectively funded numerous projects necessary to carry out its key objectives. As part of its Medical Aid initiative, UHU purchased a state-of-the-art 3-D scanner and delivered it to the Nodus rehabilitation clinic in Kyiv.  The 3-D scanner is now used by Ukrainian doctors in their treatments of soldiers, including both drafted and volunteer warriors.  UHU also ships massive containers of medical supplies to Ukraine.  For example, in 2016, UHU shipped a 40-foot container with 20 pallets of medical supplies donated by the Brother’s Brother Foundation.  Supplies were then distributed to various hospitals in Ukraine, with a special focus on hospitals close to the frontlines.  UHU also works diligently to raise money to fund life-saving medical treatment for wounded Ukrainian warriors.  In recent months, individual fighters were able to receive rehabilitation therapy, mobility vehicles and vital medical treatment because UHU absorbed those costs. In furtherance of its Defenders Aid initiative, UHU has supplied fighters on the frontlines with first aid kits, including gauze, blood-clotting medicine and combat application tourniquets.  The organization has also shipped uniforms, boots and thermal clothing, as well as new socks, undergarments and t-shirts to the wounded at Ukrainian hospitals.

Meeting Metropolitan Andrey: UCU prepares a unique exhibit for the fall

In the fall, the consecration and opening of the newly built Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center of the Ukrainian Catholic University will take place. The Sheptytsky Center will be an intellectual meeting place for people from all over the city, a place of intersection for people from various cultural, scholarly and artistic environments. Discussions will be held here, contemporary musical groups will perform, and foreign and Ukrainian experts will give lectures. The first exhibit, titled “Sheptytsky among us” is very special. 

The director of the center, Oleh Yaskiv, here recounts how the metropolitan (1865-1944) can speak to today’s youth through a non-traditional exhibit and can perhaps serve as a motivator. What is the main idea of the exhibit and who developed it?

German publication documents displaced persons of World War II

PHILADELPHIA – Toward the end of 2016 the German publishing house Verlag Jörg Mitzkat published a 360-page illustrated and well-documented study by Ernst Würzburger titled “Zwangsarbeit im Kreis Höxter: Fremdarbeiter. Displaced Persons. Heimatlose Ausländer“ (Forced Labor in the Höxter Region: Foreign Workers. Displaced Persons. Stateless Foreigners).

Session at Canadian Association of Slavists conference highlights innovations in Slavic studies

TORONTO ― A session titled “New Developments and Innovations in Slavic Studies” was held on May 28 as part of the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), which took place at Ryerson University in Toronto on May 27-29. The session was sponsored by the Ukrainian Language Education Center (ULEC), which is a research unit of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta (U of A). As pointed out by presenter Daria Polianska (Ph.D. candidate at U of A), poster sessions [in which speakers present their information in a form of a poster, discuss the topic for three to five minutes and then allow the audience to chat with each presenter] “help build the bridge between disciplines and create an interactive environment where participants and attendees can exchange practices and experiences, as well as enhance the visual representation of their research.” Facilitating information-sharing and network-building, the seven presentations comprising the session explored new initiatives in Slavic programs, including the integration of technology. Four of these presentations focused on modern-day language learning and teaching. Veta Chitnev (University of British Columbia) addressed hybrid Russian language courses for beginners, explaining how redesigning the course allowed for several benefits, including increased learning-hours and decreased costs of course materials for students.


EU officially extends Russia sanctions 

BRUSSELS – Ambassadors from the European Union’s member states have officially extended the bloc’s economic sanctions against Russia by another six months. The 28 EU heads of state and government agreed last week during a two-day summit in Brussels that they would extend the measures until January 31. The Kremlin on June 28 responded by saying Russia reserves the right to take retaliatory steps against the EU. At the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron gave an assessment on compliance by Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to the 2015 Minsk agreements, which are aimed at ending a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014. EU diplomats told RFE/RL that there was broad agreement among member states to stay firm with Moscow on Ukraine, while at the same time being open to dialogue on other foreign policy issues.