Rethinking Shevchenko (in a good way)

For several decades now, February has been designated as Black History Month. For Ukrainian Americans, the month of March has always been the closest equivalent of Ukrainian History Month. Year after year, until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, March was the month when Ukrainian schoolchildren were taught to honor Taras Shevchenko, the quintessential spiritual leader and Founding Father of the modern Ukrainian nation.

Will anyone answer for the killings on Maidan?

It has been seven years since the worst day of bloodshed on Maidan (known as Independence Square) left 49 activists dead and over 150 injured. Of the only five men who face trial over the killings on February 20, 2014, three are now in hiding, with the trial of the remaining two men only just beginning again. On February 17, Ukraine’s parliament finally voted in its first reading on a bill which could make it possible to try the three fugitives in absentia.

Ukraine’s public enemy number one

The judge’s ruling stunned the courtroom. For the first time since independence, a Ukrainian court – in clear violation of the Constitution – ordered that a book be banned and the plaintiff’s name removed from its contents. The judge, Maryna Zastavnenko, suspected of having ties to and property in the Russian-occupied “DNR” [Donetsk “people’s republic”], decided that the book “violates” the plaintiff’s “right to honor and dignity.”

Nord Stream 2: Germany’s gift to Putin throws Ukraine ‘under the bus’

As Mark Twain once remarked, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure rhymes.” In 1716, the King of Prussia – then Frederick William I – presented the ornate Baroque masterpiece, the Amber Room, to Tsar Peter the Great as a gesture of friendship between Prussia and Russia, honoring a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden. The lavish gift, a study in Baroque excesses, was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the Winter House in St. Petersburg.

The heavenly hundred – the spirit that continues to motivate and drive

I remember like yesterday being in Kyiv on the evening of November 21, 2013, for the Holodomor Commemoration. It was around 10 p.m. and I was walking with the Australian delegation through Maidan.

On this cold night, Kyiv officials arrived on the Maidan to erect the public Christmas tree, which eventually became known as the Yolka. The tree was decorated with the flags of the world to symbolize that all parts of Ukraine and the international community would not allow former President Viktor Yanukovych to abuse the nation any further.

Russian-occupied Crimea running out of water, with Moscow searching for a way out

There was an old Soviet joke that comes to mind with this story: What would happen to Saudi Arabia if communism triumphed there? Radio Armenia was asked. Radio Armenia replied “within five years, Riyadh would be importing sand.” In what is no joking matter, the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea is leaving that peninsula without water. Major reservoirs are running dry, and the occupiers are trying to get water from old wells not deep enough to handle the declining water table, the result of drought, the end of water coming in from Ukraine proper, and Russian mismanagement (ru.krymr.com/a/mertvyi-obyom-vodohranilish-kryma-osadki-ne-spasayut-opresnenie-pod-voprosom/31087568.html). In the last few days, Russian officials both in Moscow and Crimea have suggested the situation is easing as a result of winter snows (ria.ru/20210202/krym-1595696040.html and yalta-24.ru/vsya-yalta/sobytiya/27517-vodokhranilishcha-yalty-nachali-popolnyatsya).

More fallout from Karabakh: Chisinau says it’s prepared to retake Transnistria by force

Nezavisimaya Gazeta journalist Svetlana Gamova suggests that the declaration of new Moldovan President Maia Sandu that Chisinau is now ready to use force to retake Transnistria reflects her formation of a government which is “proceeding along the Ukrainian path” (ng.ru/cis/2021-02-09/1_8078_moldova.html). But a far more likely explanation of Chisinau’s new position is the impact of Azerbaijan’s victory in Karabakh and Baku’s ability demonstrated last fall to achieve by force what it wasn’t able to get by diplomatic means over more than 25 years, yet another way the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan is echoing across Eurasia. Ms. Gamova says that Ms. Sandu’s intentions have been signaled by the people she has proposed for key positions in the new government, a proposal that according to the Moscow journalist the Parliament is unlikely to approve, forcing another round of new elections in Moldova. Those Ms. Sandu has named have long favored changing “the existing format of peacekeeping operations” in Transnistria, replacing Russian forces with “an international battalion consisting of soldiers of Romania, Poland and Ukraine, a step former Defense Minister Viorel Chibotaru says is necessary to counter Moscow’s “hybrid aggression” against Moldova. The new Moldovan president has now proposed naming one of Mr. Chibotaru’s top officials, Anatolie Nosaty, as defense minister.

Fr. Maciej Zięba

The last day of 2020 bore sad news – after a long struggle with cancer, Fr. Maciej Zięba, O.P., died in Wrocław, Poland. Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic University, and I, personally, lost a good friend. Poland, and the Church in Poland, lost one of the significant figures in their pilgrimage from fear to dignity.

Maciej Zięba was a priest, a Dominican monk, a physicist, a theologian, a philosopher, a public intellectual, and a member of Solidarność (Solidarity). But he was first of all a human being. The kind of human being that His Beatitude the late Lubomyr Husar often spoke of to us. I remember Maciej, who belonged to the younger cohort of the wide circle of collaborators of Pope St. John Paul II, as smiling, humane, unbelievably hard-working, and open.

Putin threatens to increase Russia’s “support” for occupied Donbas

A week after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced grounds for investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity on occupied Ukrainian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened a further build-up in what he termed “support” for Russia’s proxy Donbas “republics.” Such “support” since 2014 has resulted in the Russian and Russian-controlled armed formations having vast stockpiles of tanks and other military hardware.

Russia has, of course, always denied any military involvement in eastern Ukraine, and has particular reason to do so, given the claims now against it in international courts over the downing on July 17, 2014, of Malaysian airliner MH17 by a Russian BUK missile from Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade. During his annual press conference on December 17, Mr. Putin spoke only of other “support.”

Resources and tips for raising bilingual children

Most people understand the importance and benefits of being bilingual.  Increased brainpower, academic advantages in kids, increased awareness of cultures, improved competitiveness in the job market, and making it easier to learn a third language are just some of the benefits. For me, I believe that language is the basis of culture and, without language, the culture eventually disappears. 

When I became a mom, I didn’t know there were so many resources out there that could help in learning Ukrainian.  So much has changed since I was a kid.  After nine years and four kids, I thought I would offer a list of compiled resources that have helped my family, as well as some tips on raising truly bilingual children.  I hope this may help others in their quest for their kids to know Ukrainian as well.  This obviously is not all-encompassing, but it is meant to offer a good base from which to begin.