WASHINGTON – On December 9-12 the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav, together with the bishops of the Permanent Synod – an executive committee that helps the patriarch in leading the Church – visited Washington. In addition to their working sessions, the bishops met with the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.A. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, representatives of the State Department, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic University of America, and others. The Permanent Synod, which is elected for five years, now includes two Ukrainian American Catholic bishops, Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia and Bishop Bohdan Danylo of Parma, as well as Metropolitan of Przemyśl-Warsaw Eugene Popowicz (Poland), Auxiliary Bishop of Ternopil Teodor Martyniuk (Ukraine) and the secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Bohdan Dziurakh (Ukraine).
KYIV – Every year in December, members of Plast National Scout Organization of Ukraine come to Vienna to join dozens of Europe’s scout organizations in one of Austria’s massive cathedrals. The international community gathers there to be among first in Europe who receive the Bethlehem Peace Light, a symbolic fire lit at Jesus’s birthplace at the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. From that Viennese church, this light of good will and peace spreads all around Europe and beyond. A few hours after Plast’s representative had received the symbolic light on December 14, the candle with the Bethlehem Peace Light was flown into Kyiv. It was presented to the public in St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, one of the central churches in Ukraine’s capital, on December 15.
On November 25, 2018, Russian forces attacked Ukrainian Navy ships in the Kerch Strait and captured 24 crew members. The youngest among them was Andriy Eyder, 19, who was wounded in the attack. He and his fellow service members spent the next 286 days in Russian custody. On September 7, all the captured sailors returned to Ukraine in an exchange of prisoners. This writer met Mr. Eyder in his hometown of Odesa. Just two days before our conversation, he had returned from the port of Ochakiv, where he witnessed the arrival on November 21 of the three Ukrainian ships returned by Russia.
ODESA – A year after Russia’s attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels, seaman Andriy Eyder is still in recovery and will soon undergo more surgery.
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, will be leaving his post next month, following a short term marked by the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. In an e-mail to The New York Times on December 17, Ambassador Taylor said he would step down in early January because his temporary appointment to Ukraine in June is set to expire. The Trump administration “will nominate a permanent ambassador soon,” he wrote, without elaborating. Earlier media reports quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying that Ambassador Taylor, the chargé d’affaires at the Kyiv Embassy, would leave his post by the end of the month or in early January. He will be replaced on an interim basis by his current deputy, Kristina Kvien, according to the Associated Press. Ambassador Taylor’s testimony before the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee last month helped build the case for impeaching President Trump, who is accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate the U.S. president’s political opponent Joe Biden by withholding military aid.
ByHalya Coynash/Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group |
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people has announced plans for a March of Dignity against Violence and Occupation from mainland Ukraine to Russian-occupied Crimea. According to Refat Chubarov, head of the Mejlis, or self-governing body of the main indigenous people of Crimea, they hope that this will help the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and other international structures in implementing the decisions taken with respect to Russia’s illegal occupation of the peninsula. “We are going home,” Mr. Chubarov stresses, after almost six years in which Russia has exiled virtually all leaders of the Mejlis from their homeland, as well as banning the Mejlis itself.
Metropolitan Nikolai of Plovdiv of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church on November 28, for the first time, commemorated Metropolitan Epifaniy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine during a divine liturgy that was concelebrated with Metropolitan Ioannis of Langadas and an additional unnamed/unidentified metropolitan and bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church at a church in Langadas, Greece. During the liturgy, the deacon read the commemorations of the leaders of the various Orthodox Churches (diptych) that are recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On the personal level, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a great impression at the Normandy group’s summit in Paris, on December 9. Mr. Zelenskyy outshone Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at this highly publicized heads-of-state/government gathering – the first after a three-year pause at that level – to restart peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine with German and French assistance. Mr. Zelenskyy, a first-time participant in the Normandy group, played his own persona, conveying friendly informality and street-smart manner but also, on this occasion, presidential and national dignity. He bristled that he spoke for the entire people of Ukraine, “including Russian-speaking people” (as “we are all Ukrainian”), when provoked by Mr. Putin on that score.
“Following the Paris Summit of the Normandy four, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the protests [that took place in Ukraine leading up to the summit] strengthened the position of the Russian, and not Ukrainian, delegation. Of course, this is mistaken. “Mistaken if only because the positions held by the Ukrainian delegation in Paris and the positions defended by the participants at the protests both at the Maidan and the Office of the President, were essentially the same. It was Putin who tried to persuade the Ukrainian president to capitulate. And it was the protesters who warned Zelenskyy about capitulation.
Below is the text of the communiqué of the Normandy format summit held in Paris on December 9. Source: Official website of the presidency of France.
The President of the French Republic, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of Ukraine met in Paris today. The Minsk agreements (Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015) continue to be the basis of the work of the Normandy format whose member states are committed to their full implementation.
TORONTO – With the death of Morris John (Myroslav Ivan) Diakowsky on November 8 at the age of 92, the Ukrainian global community lost a distinguished figure, widely respected for his effective leadership, professionalism and wise counsel. Throughout his long life, Mr. Diakowsky was dedicated to public service. He valued faith and family, culture and education, and left a lasting legacy in these areas through his career with Radio Liberty, his involvement in numerous Ukrainian organizations, notably the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS), as well as through his activities as one of the world’s foremost bandura experts.