“Sviato Vesny” celebrates Plast’s “Year of Sea Scouting”

FARMINGTON, Pa. – A total of 214 Plast scouts, plus 39 counselors, chaperones and guests, participated in the annual “Sviato Vesny” camporee over Memorial Day weekend. The event was organized and held by Plast’s Chornomortsi fraternity and Chornomorski Khvyli sorority as part of the “Year of Sеа Scouting” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Navy. 

The camporee was held at the Boy Scouts of America Heritage Reservation Campground in Farmington, Pa. Ranger Dave Wilkins, the caretaker of the Heritage Reservation, was also in attendance and participated in all the weekend events. The traditional Plast celebration of spring this year was attended by scouts from the organization’s branches in Albany, New York, Yonkers, Rochester, Syracuse, and Kerhonkson, N.Y., Newark and Passaic, N.J., Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., Cleveland, and other locations.


Sentsov’s health “very weak”

The health of jailed Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who has been on a hunger strike for over 40 days in a Russian penal colony, is “very weak” and deteriorating, his lawyer says. Dmitry Dinze told RFE/RL on June 22 that Mr. Sentsov had lost almost 15 kilograms since he started the hunger strike on May 14, and was experiencing problems with his heart and kidneys. Mr. Dinze told the AP that, when he visited Mr. Sentsov on June 22, he was “very weak, very pale,” despite receiving vitamins and nutrients intravenously, and has dropped from 97 kilograms to 77 kilograms. Mr. Dinze said Mr. Sentsov’s condition abruptly deteriorated on the 26th day of his hunger strike, and the administration of the penal colony in the far-northern Yamalo-Nenets region had rushed him to a local hospital. The 41-year-old Mr. Sentsov, a Crimean native and vocal opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. Mr. Sentsov and human rights groups say the charges were politically motivated.

U.S. deputy secretary of state meets with Ukrainian prime minister

WASHINGTON – Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan (left) met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman on June 27, on the sidelines of the Ukraine Reform Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. According to a readout of the meeting issued by U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, The two discussed anti-corruption reforms, Ukraine’s IMF package, energy security and humanitarian issues. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Sullivan reinforced the importance of the Ukrainian government meeting the International Monetary Fund’s requirements for the next installment of its financial assistance package. The deputy secretary also emphasized the importance of energy sector reform and reiterated U.S. opposition to Nord Stream 2.

Ukrainian Sports Update: College basketball

Mykhailiuk hooping for NBA shot with Lakers

The Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk hype began with his dominant performance back in the summer of the 2013 FIBA under-16 European Championships when the Ukrainian teen averaged 25.2 points per game, putting him on the international radar screen. He could easily be a professional in Europe today, but some of the top young European prospects are now choosing the college route to the NBA. Salaries are lower in international basketball with less opportunity for playing time and limited player development. In U.S. college programs players get to play in real-game situations and benefit from detailed developmental regimens, including diets and weight training. Every move Mykhailiuk made in the last several years, especially his selection of Kansas University, was made with an eye toward a future NBA career.

Ukrainian Parliament moves closer to completing anti-corruption architecture

KYIV – The Verkhovna Rada passed another bill to complete the architecture of establishing a separate court to prosecute corrupt public officials on June 21, but failed to revise clauses that make it possible for graft cases to skirt the judiciary body. 

Choosing to vote for creating the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) in its entirety, instead of the optional two readings, 256 lawmakers voted in favor of President Petro Poroshenko’s bill. 

Ukrainian Canadian Congress supports global #RedCard4Putin campaign

OTTAWA – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) on June 15 called on all Canadians to support the #RedCard4Putin campaign, which is drawing international attention to the many crimes of Russia’s regime. During the FIFA World Cup (June 14-July 15), the #RedCard4Putin campaign will issue multiple “red cards” to the Russian regime for its countless violations of international law and abuse of internationally recognized human rights. The campaign seeks to bring international awareness about the crimes of the Russian government with the objective of securing the immediate release of all political prisoners unjustly detained by Russia. “Over 70 Ukrainian political prisoners are illegally jailed by Russia,” stated Denys Volkov, Canadian coordinator of the #RedCard4Putin campaign, a former member of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup local organizing committee and former vice-president of the Manitoba Soccer Association. 

“Russia is waging war on Ukraine, shot down Flight MH17, and carried out a chemical weapon attack on the soil of the U.K. We call on all people of conscience to speak loudly against the crimes of the Russian regime,” Mr. Volkov said. The UCC is calling on Canadians to spread the message of the #RedCard4Putin campaign.

North American premiere of Stankovych’s “Ukrainian Requiem” draws large crowd

CHICAGO – In commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor of 1932-1933, the Consulate General of Ukraine in Chicago and the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation-USA Inc. on Saturday, May 19, co-sponsored the North American premiere of “Ukrainian Requiem” composed by Yevhen Stankovych. 

The program included soloists Nina Matviyenko and Stefan Szkafarowsky, the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, actor George Wyhinny and the Women’s Bandura Ensemble of North America. 

Ukraine to resume privatization in accordance with new rules

The Ukrainian government will resume its privatization campaign in October, the acting head of the local privatization body, the State Property Fund, Vitaly Trubarov, announced on May 10. Speaking after a meeting of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, which discussed privatization, Mr. Trubarov said all the large state-owned stakes slated for sale this year should change hands by the end of the year. Addressing his Cabinet, Mr. Groysman vowed to put an end to “shadow privatization,” apparently meaning certain past privatization schemes in which lucrative businesses were sold to local oligarchs cheaply and without competition (UNIAN, Kmu.gov.ua, May 10). The privatization list approved by Kyiv includes majority shares in several power generation and supply companies; turbine maker Turboatom and the manufacturer of electric equipment Electrovazhmash, both based in Kharkiv; the chemical plants Sumykhimprom and Odesa Portside Plant (OPZ); and the United Mining and Chemical Company, which is a player on the international titanium market (Spfu.gov.ua, accessed on May 16). The privatization of most of those companies has been delayed for years.

European Union ministers extend Crimea sanctions for another year

BRUSSELS – European Union agricultural ministers have prolonged the bloc’s investment ban against Crimea for another year. 

The ministers extended the restrictive measures, which were adopted in 2014 in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, during a meeting in Luxembourg on June 18. EU ambassadors had already approved the move earlier this month. 

The measures, which have been extended on a yearly basis, include an EU-wide ban on imports from Crimea unless they have Ukrainian certificates, a ban on cruise ships flying the flag of an EU member state or controlled by a member state to call at ports at the Black Sea peninsula, and a prohibition of the purchase by EU companies of property and companies there. 

Under the ban, goods and technology for the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors also cannot be exported to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea. The EU’s economic sanctions targeting Russia’s banking and energy sector are set to be debated by EU leaders when they meet in Brussels at the end of June. According to EU diplomats who were not authorized to speak on the record, the sanctions are likely to be rolled-over for another six months.

Russia rejoices in celebration of soccer, but bad memories loom

The start of the 2018 World Cup (June 14-July 15) had everything that the millions of soccer fans in Russia could wish for: perfectly prepared stadiums, a beautiful and short opening ceremony, and the spectacular performance of the national team. The country has, indeed, come together and rejoiced in welcoming what is often considered the world’s greatest sporting event, which will be watched with keen attention in every inhabited corner of the globe. For the past eight years, 11 cities in Russia’s European part had been preparing to greet thousands of foreign tourists, and the joyful atmosphere in Moscow resembles the capital’s breathtaking opening to the world during the 1957 Festival of Youth and Students (Gazeta.ru, June 14). 

Alexei Navalny, a defiant leader of the “non-systemic” opposition, has sardonically praised the beautification of the Moscow prison, which has been transformed into a hotel-type establishment ready to accommodate “overenthusiastic” fans (Navalny.com, June 15). Yet, behind this euphoria loom reflections on the perfectly organized 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which marked the terminal decline of the Soviet Union accelerated by the war in Afghanistan, and on the spectacular 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which became a preamble to Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine (Novaya Gazeta, June 12). President Vladimir Putin himself is not a fan of the most popular game in the world, but he is keen to maximally exploit its huge geopolitical resonance.