KYIV – Ukraine adopted a crucial legislative health care package on October 19 that is designed to improve the health of its people and remove Europe’s largest country from the list of nations that have the world’s highest death rates. It is the first comprehensive change to the country’s Soviet-era health care system since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
ByChristopher Guly / Special to The Ukrainian Weekly |
OTTAWA – As Canada’s Magnitsky law came into effect, the man closely connected to its namesake who campaigned for the legislation has found himself further targeted by Russia. Reacting to the bill, Russia’s Embassy in Canada called it a “hostile move” and promised “reciprocal countermeasures”; President Vladimir Putin commented that “This is just used to blow up more anti-Russian hysteria.”
Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were sentenced to prison by Russian courts on the occupied peninsula in September, were released from custody on October 25 and arrived in Turkey, Ukrainian officials, legislators and lawyers said. Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Information Policy Emine Dzheppar told RFE/RL about their release. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the veteran Crimean Tatar leader who is now a Ukrainian lawmaker, also told RFE/RL that the two men had been freed from Russian custody in Crimea and were on their way to Turkey. They were expected to arrive in Kyiv on October 27. “Two more hostages – two political prisoners – have obtained freedom,” Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer for Mr. Chiygoz, said on Facebook.
The annual meeting of the Valdai discussion club provides a unique opportunity for many Western experts to “meet” with President Vladimir Putin. This year, the Kremlin sought to build up expectations by divulging that Mr. Putin was working on a draft of a particularly important speech (RIA Novosti, October 13). However, the Russian president’s performance turned out to be distinguished only by his demonstrative lack of interest in the proceedings (Kommersant, October 20). He recycled a number of clichéd observations about the growing challenges to the global order, stated that the United Nations needed reforms on the basis of broad consensus and expressed a preference for gradual evolution rather than revolution (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 19). The absence of any meaningful content would have been noteworthy were it not so typical of the way Mr. Putin has behaved for months, in the course of his yet-to-be-announced campaign for a fourth term as president of the Russian Federation (New Times, October 20).
CONCLUSION (Go to Part I) KYIV – Rutgers University-Newark political science professor Alexander Motyl is known for swimming against the tide when it comes to speaking about post-Maidan Ukraine. All is not lost and not everything is “doom and gloom,” his writings and observations often say. On October 13, the professor, novelist and poet spoke with The Ukrainian Weekly via an online messenger service, just five days before political opposition groups, including one led by Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian president and ex-Odesa Oblast governor, staged a rally in Kyiv’s government district to call for the creation of a separate anti-graft court, election reform to make ballots open to the public and the stripping of immunity from prosecution for members of Parliament. Prof. Motyl makes the case for “evolutionary,” not “revolutionary” change.
After earning his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1984, Prof. Motyl embarked on an academic and teaching career. The Ukrainian American has earned a reputation for having expertise on “Ukraine, Russia and the USSR,” according to the World Affairs Journal.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to push for legislation creating an anti-corruption court by the end of the year, in an apparent response to demands from Western allies as well as protesters camped outside Parliament in Kyiv. Speaking while meeting with a border security unit in Kyiv late on October 20, Mr. Poroshenko said he was reaffirming his support for a key institutional change he promised when elected president after the ouster of Russia-backed former President Viktor Yanukovych. The move comes amid the first sustained wave of opposition protests in Kyiv since Mr. Yanukovych was ousted during Ukraine’s 2014 pro-Western street protests. Mr. Poroshenko said he had already included money for an anti-corruption court in next year’s draft budget. “This testifies to the state leadership’s firm commitment to launching this vitally important judicial body next year,” he said.
TORONTO – Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij traveled on September 3-4, on the invitation of the Society of Ukrainian Culture in Moldova, on a working visit to Chisinau. During his meetings in the Moldovan capital, the UWC president expressed gratitude to Moldova’s governing authorities for their support of Ukraine, primarily on the restoration and preservation of its territorial integrity, and called for them to continue such support of Ukraine. Mr. Czolij particularly thanked Moldova for co-authoring U.N. General Assembly Resolution 68/262 on “Territorial integrity of Ukraine,” which was adopted on March 27, 2014. He also cited the participation of Moldovan armed forces in the military parade marking the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in Kyiv on August 24. Mr. Czolij also expressed gratitude to representatives of Moldovan governing authorities for hosting nearly 300 orphaned children of soldiers from Ukraine’s war-torn region at summer camps in Moldova.
Canada’s defense minister addresses Ukrainian community
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) held its annual general meeting and a meeting of its board of directors on October 13 through October 15 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Community leaders and executive members from across the country gathered to discuss the progress on UCC priorities set at the XXV Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians last year. Over 40 delegates from member organizations, provincial councils and local branches attended. Dialogue and debate were focused around the three broad pillars guiding the work of the UCC: developing the Ukrainian Canadian community; celebrating and advancing the Ukrainian Canadian identity; and supporting Ukraine. “It was a pleasure for our community in Vancouver to host this year’s AGM,” stated Natalie Jatskevich, president of the UCC British Columbia Provincial Council and UCC Vancouver Branch.
Back in August of last year, Dr. Ulana Suprun was appointed Ukraine’s acting minister of health. This Ukrainian American physician was well-known to our readers, foremost as the person behind Patriot Defence, the organization that has provided combat lifesaver training to Ukraine’s soldiers and NATO-standard individual first aid kits for the battlefield. She hit the ground running and soon proclaimed her revamped ministry’s intention to reform Ukraine’s Soviet-era health care system. On October 19, acting Minister Suprun scored a major victory when the Verkhovna Rada, with 240 votes for, approved a comprehensive health care package that promises to advance the health of Ukraine’s people and improve how the health care system operates. It’s also a reform that is seen by the West as further evidence of Ukraine’s movement toward the European Union and away from Russia.
Fifty years ago, on October 28, 1967, Sen. Paul Yuzyk of Canada delivered an address at a commemorative banquet on the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Revolution. The event, held at the Sheraton Carlton Hotel, was sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Sen. Yuzyk began: “Fifty years ago in March 1917, the tsarist regime of the vast Russian Empire, the largest continental empire in the world, came crumbling down before the forces of revolution. This downfall and ignominious end of Russian tsarism was inevitable, for it had been the bulwark of autocracy, Russian imperialism and colonialism, oppression and reaction, appropriately called the ‘prison of nations,’ which was the very negation of freedom, democracy, national self-determination and justice, the principles which characterized the Western world and civilization.”
Sen. Yuzyk recalled the actions of Ukrainian regiments from Volyn and Izmayil, who were called to disperse a crowd of protesters in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) by firing into the crowd.