ByChristopher Guly / Special to The Ukrainian Weekly |
OTTAWA – The national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) has called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take the lead in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine.
Following a September 22 meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Toronto, Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters at a joint news conference with both leaders that a U.N. mission could ensure that “people are able to live their lives in peace and security in a way that upholds the principles of international law that, quite frankly, Russia violated with its illegitimate actions.”
LVIV – As Holly Palance neared her ancestral village of Ivane-Zolote in Ternopil Oblast on September 15, she couldn’t help noticing how much the lush green, hilly countryside resembled the rural coal-mining area of Pennsylvania where her father grew up and once worked, and where she would visit her grandparents on trips from Los Angeles. “In those days, in the 1950s-1960s, in the mines [in rural Pennsylvania]… there were a lot of Ukrainians. It was a very different world,” she told The Ukrainian Weekly in Lviv on September 18, as she spoke of her Ukrainian ancestry. To her surprise, standing at the entrance to the hamlet of 450 people, was the village head of Ivane-Zolote, educators from the local school and its pupils, who were eagerly awaiting her arrival. They were all dressed in traditional Ukrainian attire holding a ritual bread known as “korovai, nestled on an equally elaborate embroidered “rushnyk,” or ritual cloth.
A court in Russia-occupied Crimea on September 22 found RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena guilty on a charge of separatism and handed him a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence in a case criticized by the West as politically motivated. RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service said the 66-year-old Mr. Semena was also barred from “public activities” – apparently including journalism – for three years. RFE/RL President Thomas Kent condemned the verdict and sentence, describing them as “part of an orchestrated effort by Russian authorities in Crimea to silence independent voices.”
The European Union called the verdict “a clear violation of the freedom of expression and of the media.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement on September 22 that the verdict “represents another example of the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula after its illegal annexation by Russia.”
The statement said that the EU remains “unwavering in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine” and called for the charges against Mr. Semena to be immediately dropped. Mr. Semena’s lawyer Emil Kurbedinov called his client’s sentence “a lesser evil” referring to its being suspended. “We will appeal the verdict and sentence at Crimea’s Supreme Court and other higher courts, but we will do that to officially exhaust all the appeals here to be eligible to refer the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The August visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Ukraine was the first such trip by a Pentagon head in the last 10 years. Before arriving in Kyiv, Mr. Mattis told reporters he planned to commemorate Ukraine’s Independence Day, underscore Washington’s commitment to the bilateral strategic partnership, as well as express U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said he would also highlight the U.S. efforts to train, equip and advise in order to build up the capacity of Ukrainian forces (Defense.gov, August 20). Secretary Mattis’ presence at the Independence Day military parade in Kyiv, where armed forces personnel of both states marched, had an important political-military significance: the United States sent a clear signal of its continued support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. At the same time, the Ukrainian side looked forward to the possibility of new opportunities to strengthen its self-defense capabilities.
In late July 2017, the Ukrainian non-governmental advisory organization Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) called on President Petro Poroshenko and the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to immediately reform the Security Service of Ukraine (known by its Ukrainian based acronym as SBU). The authors of the RPR letter asserted that the SBU was unable to provide effective counterintelligence against several recent violent assassinations: namely, of former Russian Duma member Denis Voronenkov and defense intelligence operations commanding officer Maksym Shapoval in Kyiv, as well as the SBU counterintelligence chief in Donetsk oblast, Oleksandr Kharaberiush. RPR experts alleged the SBU suffers from ineffective management and fails to use its resources efficiently. They called on the authorities to implement the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s (PACE) Recommendation 1402 (adopted in 1999), which states that intelligence services should not have law enforcement functions. Finally, the RPR urged President Poroshenko and the NSDC to approve the SBU Reform Concept (Rpr.org.ua, July 27).
GENEVA – The human rights situation in Crimea has significantly deteriorated under Russian occupation, says a United Nations report that details how residents there were affected when Ukrainian laws were substituted by those of Russia and Russian citizenship was imposed on tens of thousands of the peninsula’s residents. “Grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extra-judicial execution were documented,” notes the report published on September 25 by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “The citizenship issue has had a major impact on the lives of many residents of Crimea,” High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a press release. “As the report states, imposing citizenship on the inhabitants of an occupied territory can be equated to compelling them to swear allegiance to a power they may consider as hostile, which is forbidden under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the high commissioner added. The report reiterates that the imposition of Russian citizenship affected tens of thousands of people, particularly three groups: those who formally rejected citizenship; civil servants who had to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship or lose their jobs; and Crimean residents who did not meet the legal criteria for citizenship and became foreigners.
The United States is deeply troubled by the decision of a court in Russian-occupied Crimea against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Mykola Semena, convicting him of separatism charges and handing down a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence and a ban on future journalistic activity.
This conviction was based on the fact that Mr. Semena had criticized Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea in his writing.
We call on the Russian occupation authorities to vacate Mr. Semena’s conviction, allow him to resume his journalistic activity and cease their campaign to stifle dissent in Crimea.
Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine, and the United States remains steadfast in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
– Press statement by Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, issued on September 25.
WEST POINT, N.Y. – President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine visited the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the course of his recent working visit to the United States. He had a chance to interact with the academy’s leaders as well as students. In his meetings at the academy on September 19, Mr. Poroshenko underscored that Ukraine is struggling both for its land and for the freedom of the world. “The whole world is with us and we have an effective instrument – sanctions against the Russian economy,” he noted in response to questions posed after his address to the student body. He also explained that “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and aggression in the east of my country completely destroyed the post-war world security, which was based on the U.N. Security Council, “ adding that “one of the permanent members of the Security Council, who has the right to veto, became an aggressor.”
The president also reminded his listeners that in 1994 Ukraine gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, having received guarantees of security from the signatories of the Budapest memorandum.
In just a few days, this newspaper will be 84 years old. In its first issue, dated October 6, 1933, it was underlined that the new publication would be geared to the new generation of Ukrainians born and raised here in North America and would strive to keep them engaged in the Ukrainian community. The English-language newspaper was also meant to be used to tell the English-speaking world around us about our ancestral homeland – most importantly at the time of its founding, about the genocidal famine, the Holodomor, that ultimately killed millions in Ukraine. Now, nearly eight and a half decades later, The Ukrainian Weekly can say that it has faithfully and proudly served several generations of readers in our community. The National Newspaper Association – a trade association whose mission is “to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers” – notes: “the distinguishing characteristic of a community newspaper is its commitment to serving the information needs of a particular community.” That community, the NNA explains, “is defined by the community’s members and a shared sense of belonging.
Sixty years ago, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union got the jump on the United States in what would later be called the “space race” when it had successfully launched into orbit the first man-made satellite – Sputnik. The launching of Sputnik was also a confirmation, as claimed by the Kremlin, that the Soviets indeed possessed the technology to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles. Clarence A. Manning, a regular contributor for The Ukrainian Weekly, noted in a commentary: “The United States has treated this as a scientific process and has not regarded it as a race. The Soviets again in accordance with their policy did so and when they launched the satellite without warning, they blandly explained that this was not the promised satellite for which they had contracted. They were well aware that its effect upon the entire world would be even greater, if they broke their agreement than if they had done everything in due and proper order. Once again they were right and they have followed it up with renewed threats against Turkey and the free world and in the diplomatic sphere they have again taken a long step to strengthen their position especially in the Middle East.