Activists demand answers a year after Kateryna Handzyuk’s death

KYIV – Kateryna Handzyuk, or Katya, as friends and fellow activists called her, was an anti-corruption activist in Kherson. On July 31, 2018, she was attacked with sulfuric acid in front of her house. Three months later, she died of her injuries. Now, a year after her death, the main question in the case still has no answer: Who ordered the killing of Katya Handzyuk?
On November 4, several hundred people gathered on Bankova Street, a small street in central Kyiv where the Presidential Office of Ukraine is located. After Volodymyr Zelenskyy was inaugurated as president, one of his first decisions was to remove the fences that had blocked the entrance to Bankova, where the building formerly known as the Presidential Administration stands. As a result, the public now has access to the front door of the Presidential Office.

Sobor of UOC-U.S.A. elects new Metropolia Council

SOMERSET, N.J. – The 22nd Regular Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. was held at the Metropolia Center of the UOC-U.S.A. on October 16-19, and attracted more than 170 delegates and participants. The Sobor is the highest administrative body of the Church.
The three-day Sobor held at the Ukrainian Cultural Center mainly focused on financial matters concerning the Church and ongoing expenses related to the maintenance of properties and buildings owned by the Church.
This year’s Sobor theme was “Lord, I love the beauty of Your house and the place where Your beauty dwells.” (Psalm 26:8) Following the official opening with a Moleben service led by Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel, and the singing of the U.S. and Ukrainian national anthems, Metropolitan Antony reminded the delegates of their responsibilities during the sessions of the Sobor, underscoring that all must act under the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the Sobor.

Greeting to Sobor by Archbishop Elpidophoros

A greeting from Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on the occasion of the 22nd regular Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. was read by Bishop Apostolos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese during the Sobor banquet on October 17. Archbishop Elpidophoros is the exarch representative for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (New Rome).

Your Eminence, Metropolitan Antony,
Your Eminence, Archbishop Daniel,
Most reverend hierarchs, beloved brothers and sisters,
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is and ever shall be among us. In spirit and prayer, I am also with you as you assemble for your 22nd Regular Sobor at the Metropolia Center. While I am regretfully unable to be with you in person, I have asked His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia to attend and present my heartfelt message and sincere greetings.

Ukrainian Heritage Consortium convenes at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Ukrainian Heritage Consortium of North America (UHCNA) convened its 2019 meeting at Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). The UHCNA is a voluntary group that coordinates the exchange of information, fosters friendships and cooperation among Ukrainian cultural heritage institutions and professionals in the United States and Canada.
Past conferences have included the initial 2011 meeting at Cleveland’s Ukrainian Museum-Archives (UMA) and the following: 2012 at the Ukrainian Museum and Library at Stamford, Conn., 2013 at Chicago’s Ukrainian National Museum, 2015 at the Library of Congress in Washington, 2017 hosted by the Ukrainian History and Education Center in Somerset, N.J., and The Ukrainian Museum in New York.

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Sentsov receives Sakharov Prize

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was one of the most prominent political prisoners in Russia, has finally received last year’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought from the European Parliament. The award ceremony took place on November 26 in Strasbourg, France.
Before accepting the award from the European Parliament President David Sassoli, Mr. Sentsov addressed the European lawmakers, urging them not to forget the Ukrainians’ sacrifices in the ongoing conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. “Every time, when some of you think about stretching out a hand of friendship to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin over our heads, you should remember each of the 13,000 [people] killed in Ukraine, the hundreds of our boys kept in prisons, who may be tortured as we speak, the Crimean Tatars, who may at this very moment be arrested,” Mr. Sentsov said to rapturous applause from the European lawmakers. Mr. Sentsov, a 43-year-old Crimean native who opposed Russia’s 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, was arrested by the Moscow-imposed Crimean authorities on May 11, 2014, and charged with planning the firebombing of pro-Russian organizations in Crimea.

After almost a year, Russia returns seized Ukrainian naval ships

Almost one year ago, on November 25, 2018, two small Ukrainian Gyurza-M-class gunboats, together with a tug, attempted to cross from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine controls two major port cities: Mariupol and Berdyansk. The Ukrainian convoy was stopped and attacked by Russian forces. One of the gunboats, the Berdyansk was hit multiple times as the Ukrainians, who did not return fire, were attempting a retreat. The boats were boarded and all 24 Ukrainian service members (some were wounded, though none fatally) were imprisoned in the Federal Security Service’s Lefortovo prison, in Moscow; they were questioned and accused of crossing the Russian border illegally, despite the existence of a 2003 Russo-Ukrainian treaty defining the Kerch Strait as a joint sovereignty “internal” waterway. The seized ships were impounded in Kerch (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 26, 28, 29, 2018).

The ‘shadow cardinal’ of Ukrainian politics: Who is Andriy Bohdan?

Back on September 27, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC), Oleksandr Danylyuk, announced his resignation (Pravda.com.ua, September 27), which was confirmed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Pravda.com.ua, September 30). According to Mr. Danylyuk, he stepped down in protest against the actions of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and his former lawyer, Andriy Bohdan, who presently heads the Office of the President of Ukraine and is a member of the NSDC (Rnbo.gov.ua, accessed October 1).
For Mr. Danylyuk, whose conflict with Mr. Bohdan had dragged on for months (BBC – Ukrainian service, October 1), the last straw was the situation around PrivatBank, which was nationalized in 2016 during Petro Poroshenko’s presidency (Nv.ua, September 27). Now, with Mr. Zelenskyy in power, Mr. Kolomoisky is said to be expressing more determination to obtain a handsome compensation for PrivatBank, which the Ukrainian billionaire owned until the state took it over (Nv.ua, September 27). And Mr. Bohdan may be the key person in Kyiv to implement such a plan.

Ukrainian president appoints U.S. lawyer as adviser amid outreach to diaspora

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appointed an American lawyer as a new adviser with a mandate to build relations with ethnic Ukrainians living in the United States and elsewhere.
Andrew Mac, who heads the Washington office of the Kyiv-based law firm Asters, was officially named to the position on November 5, according to a presidential decree.
In filings with the U.S. Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act unit, Mr. Mac said the appointment was for an indefinite period and he would not be paid for his services.

Quotable notes

“There are pages in our history that are very painful to recall; still, they cannot be forgotten. Crimes that prove that violence and cynicism have no limits. Disasters that a normal person will not wish even on his enemies. Tragedies so great that humanity has not yet invented words to describe the pain that Ukrainians have experienced. Today we honor the memory of the victims of the Holodomor, a crime of genocide committed by the totalitarian Stalinist regime against our people, the people of Ukraine. …
“However, the huge volume of facts and evidence still gives no answer to the simple question either to the mind or to the heart: For what? How can a thought of eliminating the whole nation emerge? How can one take away the last crumb of bread and the last crumb of hope. Hope that you or at least your children will live until the next morning. …

UCU grad to be world’s youngest Catholic bishop

CHICAGO – Father Stepan Sus, a graduate of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, has been nominated to become a bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Father Sus, who turned 38 in October, will be the world’s youngest Catholic bishop.
On Friday, November 15, Vatican officials announced that the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, having received prior approval from the pope, conducted the canonical election of Father Sus, a priest of the UGCC Archeparchy of Lviv, as a bishop of the Curia of the Kyiv-Halych Supreme Archbishop. He was given a Zegris titular residence.