Choice for great state emblem of Ukraine draws criticism

KYIV – It percolated from grumbling on social media to controversy after a jury panel of Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture on November 19 selected the nation’s great state emblem – the constitutionally stipulated coat of arms that never was designated after the country’s fundamental law was ratified 14 years ago.

“Trash,” one Facebook user commented. Another noted Archangel Michael is “wearing white socks.” Another commenter said, “it takes me back to childhood and makes me want to start coloring it.” Others criticized the colors of the Ukrainian flag being stepped on, while some noted the Kozak banner standing above a Christian figure. Still others on Twitter noticed that the Kozak looks “theatrical” or “cartoonish” and that the depiction of wheat and the Eurasian guelder rose (kalyna) look similar to the images used in Soviet propaganda.

Holodomor Descendants Network is formed

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness (U.S. Holodomor Committee) announced the establishment of the Holodomor Descendants Network to bring together the descendants of the Soviet famine-genocide against the Ukrainian nation in 1932-1933. Its goal is to remember and share the personal family stories of this horror during which 10 million people, including children, died of starvation in the country known as “The Breadbasket of Europe.”

“The Descendants Network is a natural evolution of the work of our organization, whose mission is to promote and spread the truth about one of the least-known genocides in the world. I am pleased to announce that Olya Soroka, a member of our committee, whose mother, grandparents and aunt survived the Holodomor, will chair the newly formed network,” commented Michael Sawkiw Jr., chairman of the U.S. Holodomor Committee.

Canada’s Ukrainian community commemorates the Holodomor in somber, national virtual event

OTTAWA – The late Stefania Krikun’s memories assumed a quiet poignancy as part of this year’s somber National Holodomor Commemoration ceremony in Canada.

A video of the Edmonton woman, born on February 14, 1923, in the Ukrainian village of Hrynivtsi in the Zhytomyr region, has been online for the past seven years, but was again highlighted as part of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s pandemic-prompted virtual commemoration on November 22.

“A lot of people died. I saw this,” Ms. Krikun recalled of the genocidal famine, perpetrated by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet regime, which between 1932 and 1933 claimed the lives of nearly 4 million Ukrainians, according to the findings of the Kyiv Court of Appeal in 2010.

Fractured Moldova’s presidential election decided by European diaspora vote

Moldova’s two-round presidential election, on November 1 and November 15, was – above everything else – a clash of cultures. It pitted the incumbent Socialist, Russia-oriented President Igor Dodon, with his core electorate of aging and rural voters, against the Harvard-educated technocrat Maia Sandu, the candidate of educated urban voters, the young and the Moldovan diaspora in Europe. With Moldova itself evenly divided between two cultural matrixes, its diaspora voters in Europe tipped the balance.

Ms. Sandu won the November 15 runoff by an unexpectedly heavy margin, 58 percent against Mr. Dodon’s 42 percent. Two weeks earlier, she had outvoted Mr. Dodon in the first round narrowly, by 36 percent to 33 percent. Most forecasts had projected Ms. Sandu trailing Mr. Dodon in the first round and standing an even chance with him in the runoff. The turnout was 52 percent over all; within that, it was higher in the European diaspora than in Moldova itself (Unimedia, November 1, 2, 16, 17).


New ambassador to U.S. is nominated

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has confirmed that he proposed the candidacy of ex-Finance Minister Oksana Markarova for the post of Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, but stressed that there were no complaints about current ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko. “Facts, not confused rumors, about the new ambassador of Ukraine to the United States. Firstly, the current ambassador of Ukraine to Washington, Volodymyr Yelchenko, is a classic of Ukrainian diplomacy, and there are no complaints about his work, but no one canceled the principle of rotation in diplomacy. Secondly, the minister of foreign affairs submits the candidacy of a new ambassador for the president’s consideration.

With deep thanks to Roma Hadzewycz

Along with the UNA General Assembly and the UNA staff, please join me in extending deep thanks and best wishes to Roma Hadzewycz, editor-in-chief of Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, who will retire from the Ukrainian National Association on December 1, 2020.

For more than 43 years, Ms. Hadzewycz has been an indefatigable and respected member of the UNA fraternal family. Her contribution to our association has been invaluable and her commitment to excellence unequaled. Ms. Hadzewycz’s encyclopedic knowledge of UNA history will be greatly missed, as will her dedication, talent, professionalism and experience.

Moldova’s presidential election: The Russians were not coming (this time)

Moldova’s recent presidential election (first round held on November 1, second round on November 15) has been widely stereotyped by international media as a geopolitical contest between a democratic West and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But in fact, that presumption has been disproved by all players, internal and external, in their respective messages about the just-concluded electoral race. Avoidance of geopolitical competition, if nothing else, was their common underlying approach (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, October 28, November 17). Although not declaratively proclaimed as such during the campaign, this approach took official form in response to the outcome.

Mr. Putin, who had practically abandoned incumbent President Igor Dodon ahead of the election, became one of the first international leaders to congratulate Maia Sandu on her victory: “I count on your presidency to make possible a constructive development of our countries’ relations” (, November 16).

Ukraine faces “very severe” COVID-19 winter, as coronavirus-related deaths exceed 10,000

Ukraine has passed a milestone of 10,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, as the country faces what the health minister called a “very severe” winter of coronavirus cases.

Maksym Stepanov said on November 18 that Ukraine registered a record 256 new COVID-19 related deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 10,112. He said 12,496 new COVID-19 cases had been documented in the country and that 535 more children and 529 medical workers had contracted the disease. In the previous 24 hours, he noted, 1,668 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms in Ukraine.

The total number of cases in Ukraine has reached 570,153.

Quotable notes

The United States condemns the continued detention of political prisoners in Belarus. More than 100 political prisoners are currently being detained for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms by peacefully participating in protests, calling for free and fair elections, and advocating for a national dialogue to end the ongoing crisis. These political prisoners have been subject to harsh and life-threatening detention conditions, including credible reports of torture. They are among the thousands of individuals who have been subjected to unjust detentions since the start of the violent crackdown.

Documentary highlights high Ukrainian Canadian enlistment during World War II

OTTAWA – On an unusually warm November 11 in Ottawa, when COVID-19 restrictions kept the usually large crowds in cooler weather away from the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial, Ukrainian Canadian filmmaker John Paskievich reflected on the disproportionately outsized contribution members of his community made during the second world war.

“Their enlistment rate was the highest percentage of any ethnic group outside of the British in Canada,” explained Mr. Paskievich – co-director of the 1982 award-winning documentary short, “Ted’s Baryluk Grocery” – by telephone from his home in Winnipeg. He said that of the more than 1 million Canadians who served in Canada’s Armed Forces, between 35,000 and 40,000 – mainly men – were of Ukrainian origin.