KYIV – Scandal after scandal, overshadowing progress. That summarizes the last 10 days or so in Kyiv, as the focus switched from foreign to domestic issues. These have involved a public rift over charges of corruption and bribery within President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s majority Servant of the People party that necessitated drastic damage-control measures and the alleged exploitation of a famed Ukrainian cultural institution for political purposes to benefit a notorious oligarch. In connection with the first case, a bizarre scene unfolded on October 23. After exchanging accusations in public with the head of the president’s faction in the Verkhovna Rada, Davyd Arakhamia, Oleksandr Dubinsky, an outspoken journalist linked with the notorious oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, took a lie detector test live on the Internet. The following day Mr. Arakhamia also did so voluntarily. The result will not be known for several days.
SOUTH BOUND BROOK, N.J. – Metropolitan Epifaniy, primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), was formally welcomed by the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. (UOC-U.S.A.) at the spiritual center of the Church in South Bound Brook/Somerset, N.J., on Monday, October 21. Welcoming Metropolitan Epifaniy on the front steps of the historic St. Andrew the-First-Called Apostle Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church, Metropolitan Antony pointed out that the church is the first monument to the victims of the genocidal Holodomor of 1932-1933. Upon entering the church and blessing the clergy and faithful in attendance, both metropolitans exchanged statements of spiritual joy for the opportunity that the Lord presented to the worldwide Ukrainian Orthodox community to re-establish a sacred bond through the Mother Church of Constantinople.
NEW YORK – The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York celebrated its 70th anniversary with a concert at Hunter College on Saturday, October 6. The chorus’s platinum jubilee can be traced back to 1949, when Dumka was founded in New York City as a male choir. Barely four years after the end of the war, these Ukrainian immigrants, striving to support their families and still learning the new language in America, had already organized this ensemble, so they could continue singing the music they loved so well. Their stated mission was to preserve and cultivate the rich musical heritage of Ukraine. At the anniversary concert, the adult mixed chorus led by music director and conductor Vasyl Hrechynsky presented mostly Ukrainian classic choral compositions in the first half, while the second half contrasted shorter Ukrainian melodies and folk songs, including several lighthearted and humorous works.
Journalist sentenced to 15 years A court established by Russia-backed “separatists” who hold parts of eastern Ukraine has sentenced journalist Stanislav Aseyev, an RFE/RL contributor, to 15 years in a penal colony. The separatist news outlet DAN reported on October 22 that the court had found Mr. Aseyev guilty of espionage, extremism and public calls to violate the territory’s integrity. Mr. Aseyev, who wrote under the pen name Stanislav Vasin, disappeared in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on June 2, 2017, and has been held in detention since by the separatists. “The conviction against Stanislav Aseyev, which dates from August but was made public only today, is reprehensible,” said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly. “Stas is a journalist and was only trying to raise awareness about the situation in eastern Ukraine.
An old Soviet joke had it that if Saudi Arabia ever became communist, Riyadh would be importing sand within five years. The situation around the once-prosperous Ukrainian port in Sevastopol suggests a similar dynamic: if the Russians occupy something, as they have in Crimea, it will rapidly slide toward bankruptcy. The port’s insolvency is a combined result of sanctions, mismanagement and the inevitable scramble for assets between various parts of the Russian government that want to extract what income they can from it before it dies and Russian firms, which appear more interested in value stripping than in making the port a success. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian government invoked international law and closed Sevastopol and other Crimean ports to international shipping. Under the terms of this ban, any captain who docks his ship there would face massive fines and even imprisonment under international law.
Chornobyl is again churning out energy – not nuclear, but solar power. In the shadows of the shuttered nuclear power plant that was the scene to the world’s worst nuclear disaster more than 30 years ago, rows of solar panels have been erected, producing enough energy to light up hundreds of homes. It’s all part of a bold plan by Ukraine to develop alternative sources of energy. Upon gaining independence, post-Soviet Ukraine relied on Russia to meet most of its energy needs. But the strategy came with risks, such as in 2006 and 2009, when disputes led Russia to temporarily halt its gas transit via Ukraine and threaten European imports.
WASHINGTON – Metropolitan Epifaniy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine met on October 23 with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus released the following information: “Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met today with His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, primate of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Secretary Pompeo congratulated Metropolitan Epifaniy on his receipt of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award for his defense of all Ukrainians’ ability to worship in accordance with their faith, free from external interference. The secretary and the metropolitan shared their concerns about abuses against religious freedom in Russia-occupied Crimea and Russia-controlled parts of the Donbas. They expressed their hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the Russia-instigated conflict in eastern Ukraine, now in its sixth year, underscoring the need to heal the wounds of war and foster unity.”
This is the first part of a two-part series on the centennial concert on October 6 by the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus in Detroit. This author was invited by the UBC to experience and document the weekend’s events, meet with individuals and provide an in-depth look at what it’s like for the UBC to play a hometown concert. DETROIT – The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (UBC) performed its centennial concert tour in its adopted hometown of Detroit on October 6 at Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center before an audience of nearly 400 people. (More about the concert and statements from local community members will appear in the follow-up article.)
Seen on the right in 1967 are the Ukrainian National Association’s leaders and activists in Canada with UNA Supreme President Joseph Lesawyer (seated, left). Seated to his left are: Canadian Sen. Paul Yuzyk, John Hewryk and Wasyl Didiuk. Sen. Yuzyk was supreme vice-president for Canada in 1970-1974 and supreme director for Canada in 1974-1986; Mr. Hewryk was a UNA auditor for 20 years and supreme director for Canada in 1986-1993. Mr. Didiuk was a longtime UNA supreme advisor and a supreme auditor. Another notable Canadian UNA’er in the photo is Bohdan Zorych (standing fourth from left), who was the supreme vice-president for Canada in 1966-1970 and later director of the UNA’s Canadian Office.
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – During the months of August and September, UNA Home Office representatives as well as members of the UNA General Assembly attended several area festivals to promote the UNA and its products. These included festivals held in Lehighton and Horsham Pa., Stamford Conn., and Whippany, Passaic and Clifton, N.J. This year, in addition to presenting UNA’s life insurance and annuity products, colorful posters and flyers were distributed advertising the UNA’s 125th anniversary concert to be held at Dolan Performance Hall at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, N.J., on Saturday, November 2. For the two festivals held in Whippany and Clifton, the UNA sponsored a raffle for two tickets to the anniversary concert.