Preliminary observations of UWC and UCCA international election observation missions

On October 28, the international election observation missions of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) presented their preliminary observations of Ukraine’s local elections.

The purpose of the UWC and UCCA missions is to support an open and transparent electoral process in Ukraine. The UWC and the UCCA support Ukraine’s commitment to international standards for free and fair elections, which reflect the will of the electorate, and do not support any candidate, political party or bloc.

UUARC reacts to devastating fire in Luhansk

On September 30, the Luhansk region was engulfed by a devastating fire that broke out in three areas along the demarcation zone and, due to strong gusts of wind, spread with lightning speed. The leading Ukrainian News Channel 5 reported the following: “The occupiers created diversions by setting fires in the parts of the ‘gray zones’ not under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. New pockets of fires were created by Russian shelling using bullets, shells and missiles.”

The fire spread to 13,000 hectares (32,500 acres) and caused widespread damage. Entire villages were burned. The fire destroyed more than 300 houses, and almost 200 people were hospitalized. Sadly, people lost all of their lifetime possessions. Suffering the greatest losses were the villages of Syrotyne, Voronovo and Smolianynove. Unfortunately, the government only partially compensates the people for their losses.

Report: COVID-19 used as pretext to crack down on Internet freedom

Internet freedom has declined for the 10th consecutive year as governments around the world are using the coronavirus pandemic as a “cover” to expand online surveillance, crack down on dissent and build new technological systems to control society, Freedom House says in a new report.

The Washington-based human rights watchdog’s annual Freedom of the Net report, released on October 14, said the authorities in dozens of countries have cited COVID-19 “to justify expanded surveillance powers and the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive.”

The UNWLA’s soft cultural diplomacy

We Ukrainian Americans no longer have to lament that the world doesn’t know much about Ukraine. Ukraine just celebrated the 29th anniversary of the re-establishment of its independence. Now Ukraine has an international reputation, and Ukrainians are responsible for its content. But we can still show our concern for our heritage by supporting those who study it.

In this brief comment I’d like to call your attention to one such program administered by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, which continues to vouchsafe the good name of the country of our heritage.

We must all fight against disinformation

As a diplomat for nearly three decades, I’ve long followed national and local news around the world to better understand the societies in which I work.  Real journalism is a vital component of any democracy, serving to educate and inform the public about its leaders and policies.  Unfortuna­tely, there have always been those who have attempted to use news sources to distort the truth to advance their own political, economic or personal agendas.  While new technologies have expanded citizens’ ability to receive news from a far wider range of sources, it also makes it easier for stories and narratives to flourish that are deceptive or just plain false.  Because of this, I am always cautious about the information I consume.

I hope the people of Ukraine are taking a similar approach when they turn on their televisions and scroll through social media updates and news feeds.  Today, disinformation is a challenge faced by every democracy and its citizens. 

The spiritual rebirth of Ukraine

The Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA), which is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, has worked through the decades to answer some of Ukraine’s challenges brought about by events in the tumultuous 20th and 21st centuries. Today, one of the great challenges for Ukraine is the current fighting in the east. The war in the Donbas has killed thousands and injured many more. These injuries are not only physical, but leave emotional and spiritual scars as well.

Since the war in eastern Ukraine began, the UNWLA has supported both the physically wounded through its War Victims’ Fund established in 2015 and the psychologically war-traumatized through the Prostir Nadii project. The latter is part of the Mental Health Institute of the Ukrainian Catholic University established in 2016. Last year, the UNWLA launched its newest project, the Spiritual Rebirth of Ukraine, aimed at restoring the spiritual health of the individual.

On studying at the UCU School of Ukrainian Language and Culture

LVIV – Eugene Walden and his daughter traveled to Lviv from the U.S.A. He has taken part twice – during the summers of 2018 and 2019 – in the School of Ukrainian Language and Culture of the Ukrainian Catholic University and does not plan on stopping his studies. In a conversation last fall with this writer, he shared details about what inspires him in this endeavor and what impressions remain after his time spent at UCU.

What motivated you to study the Ukrainian language?

My mother was born in Ukraine and I in a town near Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. When I was little, I knew some Ukrainian. I learned it from Mama, who spoke it with her parents. Later I entered the University of Michigan, which has a special Ukrainian language program, and met noted professor Assya Humesky, and there also I returned to the language. I finished university very long ago, 30 years, and had no opportunities to practice my skills further.

“In my native Donetsk, someone is being savagely tortured right now”

There has been strong reaction from many distinguished public figures to the outrageous “12-Step Plan on Ukraine” published on the eve of the 2020 Munich Security Conference. Perhaps the most compelling and poignant, however, was given by Stanislav Aseyev, a Donetsk writer and journalist freed in the last exchange of prisoners after the 31 months he was held in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk people’s republic.” Almost all of that time, he was held in Izolyatsia, the former art center turned into a secret prison where Russian and Russian-controlled militants torture with impunity.

He writes:

“In 2012 my native city Donetsk greeted the European Football Championship with a new airport, a new railway station and stadium. Now, in 2020, there is none of that in Donetsk.”

St. Nicholas Eparchy Capital Campaign reaches $2 million milestone

CHICAGO – The “Building Our Faith Together, in Unity and with Gratitude” capital campaign of the St. Nicholas Eparchy began on May 12, 2019. It was undertaken to sustain the long-term viability of the eparchy and to restore the 112-year-old cathedral in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, particularly the cupolas and roof.  Funds from the campaign are also designated to seed an endowment fund to better support all parishes and missions within the eparchy, and to further develop eparchial resources and the continuing education of priests, deacons and laity.
We are pleased to announce that, at the completion of the first phase of the campaign, the fund has surpassed $2 million. The financial goal of the campaign is $3.65 million.

Continuing to feed the hungry in Ukraine

People all over the world are forced to endure many types of hunger. Of these, two types are most prevalent – a hunger for food, and a hunger for love and affection. Very often, these two hungers are closely connected – if there were more love in the world, fewer people would suffer. Unfortunately, there are so many people starving for both food and love, that those of us who would like to alleviate their pain must decide exactly whom we can help. The Charitable Program at St. John’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Newark, N.J., has chosen to focus its attention on the needy in Ukraine, and for the past 10 years, we have provided them with a considerable amount of aid.