Monday, October 27, 2014

Ukraine's Elections Are Very Promising

1900329_849844048369293_2136305315176296468_o (2)

Exit polls show a distinctly pro-EU margin

The Rada exit poll results are in, and they are vastly different from the 2012 elections, in which the old regime parties (Party of Regions, Fatherland, UDAR, the Communist Party, and Svoboda) took the lead.  For the first time since independence, there are likely to be no Communists in the parliament. President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc party (23%) and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk's People's Front party (21.3%) are way in the lead, indicating that the work they have begun is likely to continue.

In fact, pro-EU parties are dominating the results according to Reuters. This is a most hopeful sign that corruption will be fought successfully and Ukraine will move on to a new era of freedom, peace and prosperity.  It will be days before all the votes are counted, the so-called separatists are still planning to hold their own elections in November, and, of course, it remains to be seen what Putin will do, but this first step is promising.  

It will not be easy, and they have an uphill battle ahead of them, but they also have much to fight for. And that perhaps is the difference this time. If they have to fight, they have the potential to win. Let's all stand behind them and press on.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Putin's lies and promises

Yesterday, Putin promised that the Ukrainian troops surrounded by Russian troops in Ukraine could retreat through a safe passage corridor. They were then slaughtered as they carried white flags. Putin lied.  We all know he does. That was a war crime.  Putin must be brought to justice.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Russian troops aren't lost, they are on holidays in Ukraine!

The Russian troops taken prisoner by the Ukrainian military were supposedly on maneuvers when they accidentally crossed the border into Ukraine.  Putin said it was Ukraine's fault that there was an unguarded border crossing allowing them to get rebel held territory. Today Canada tweeted a a lovely snide posting of a map to help guide the Russian troops in case they get lost, which immediately went viral.  Thanks @Canada.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Things that define Ukrainians growing up in America

While we watch and wait, I've been thinking about who I am. It's often hard to explain the things that define Ukrainian Americans, but there are at least 25 anomalous behaviours that we all had in common growing up. I can't explain some of them, I just have to tell you about them. It's what every kid raised Ukrainian around the world knows for fact.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The chess game over desperate Ukraine

EU and US imposed sanctions against Russia escalated today

This morning the EU announced tougher sanctions targeting entire industries as opposed to individuals and corporations. The document issued takes into account legal positions and best practices in sanctions administration. For some reason, the US toughened it's stance but did not go as far as Europe, whereas before it's stance was far tougher than Europe's. It reportedly omitted several banks from the its list. The banking sector takes the biggest hit and will therefore affect London significantly. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From civil war to international conflict

Ukraine _Cham(4)640072914.jpg
July 28, 2014: Igor Strelkov, a pro-Russian rebel commander, speaks to the media in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

UN issues report on Ukraine

Below is the full text of the press release issued today by the United Nations High Commisioner for Human  Rights, Navi Pillay.  She states, “I would like to stress to all those involved in the conflict, including foreign fighters, that every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law including war crimes will be brought to justice, no matter who they are.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let's call them what they are: Terrorists not pro-Russian Separatists

View image on Twitter

Today I am proud not to be Russian

Last week, someone pushed a button and annihilated 298 innocent lives, sending shockwaves around the world. Today, that someone, and we all know who, took down two Ukrainian fighter planes. We know who because he says he did it. Uh, what don't people get about that?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bloggers' power in Ukraine's quest for sovereignty


What started as a protest quickly escalated to revolution and it was #Euromaidan on Twitter that fueled the transition. Not only were people in Kyiv like Vitaly Klitchko able to mobilize the masses to join in at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Ukrainians in the diaspora were able to help spread the word around the world. It was amazing how many Ukrainians worldwide took to their keyboards and screens. We were glued to social media, passing on any tidbit that might help the cause.  And then the Russians stepped in to Crimea. That's when the diaspora got really active.
Wearing my Ukrainian Trysub cap proudly

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is Putin Ukraine's unintentional nationalist?

Dealing with explosive potential

Mr. Putin has been looking for another excuse to invade Ukraine for some time. When President Poroshenko announced that he was ending the 10-day unilateral cease fire with the rebels since they had not abided by it, Putin stated on television that Russia would be responding to this lack of regard for peaceful resolution, suggesting that he had the backing of the EU leaders. Putin does not have the backing of the EU; their leaders are simply unwilling to take a stronger stand against him. Now that Ukraine has signed a trade agreement with the EU, however, Putin does not have much wiggle room. I was worried that there was explosive potential and that he'd invade, but now I am not so sure that he won't retreat.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Making headway

Ukrainians regaining control of Ukraine

Little by little, Ukrainians are regaining control of Ukraine. President Poroshenko, noting that the insurgents had not abided by the peace agreement, chose to give the military the command to take action.  In a few short days, they had retaken a checkpoint at an important border crossing with Russia, one that Western allies claimed allowed Russian military personnel, arms and even tanks to enter Ukraine illegally.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ukraine joins the EC!

A Historic Day for Ukraine 

As Ukraine draws closer to the EU amid protests from Russia and an expiring cease-fire with separatists, hope wells up that President Petro Poroshenko can really make a difference.  I have been silent since May, watching along with the rest of the world to see if our fragile sovereign nation could hold itself together, free of Russian influence. Today, just about an hour ago, President Poroshenko signed an agreement that aligns Ukraine with Europe instead of Asia, with the west instead of the east. And it appears that Putin is looking for a way out. Let's hope he finds a reasonable one.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Solving the Russia Problem

New York Times 21/04/2014


"If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn't solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn't solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem."
IVO H. DAALDER, a former American ambassador to NATO, on one potential approach President Obama could take with President Vladimir V. Putin. 

The East Rises Up Against Separatism

Last month, this quote caught my attention in the NY Times. I had written in my blog prior to this that the only chance Ukraine had was if the businessmen in Russia and Eastern Ukraine felt the pain of sanctions and took up positions against Putin's actions.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The eastern referendum

Today the separatist  people in the East are choosing to hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine. Last week Putin asked these separatists to hold off on the referendum until after the elections. They chose to proceed. So who do we believe this time?  Did Putin make a public statement that he reversed in private orders?  Did the people truly go off on their own?  Who will count the votes? And who will be allowed to vote?  What will a vote mean?  Those counting will claim huge turnout and clear results. If no one but Putin believes it, will he still step in?

The events of the past few days which resulted in violent clashes in Odessa and the East were truly worrisome. People killing their own. Propaganda dividing those that have been living side by side for generations. Why did Putin have to butt in?  Look what he has created now?  Total instability is not good for anyone, not even for Russia.

God help us all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

How good a liar is Putin, really?

Христос Воскрес! Christ is Risen. 

It is Easter Monday, Обливаний понеділок, and I am angry. Not happy about Christ having arisen for our salvation, but angry that Putin has once again threatened our freedom.

I have been angry about the new situation in Ukraine for some time. It is so clear that the insurgency in Eastern Ukraine over the past few weeks is being orchestrated by ex-KGB liar Putin. It is clear that the insurgents are Russian special forces troops. Photos have been documenting this consistently for the past couple of weeks. Today's New York Times carries US sanctioned photos released by Ukraine's government clearly identifying the troops on the ground as Russian special forces. The way in which it is all unfolding is entirely akin to Georgia and Crimea. Putin's greed is clear. The West's apathy is as well.

Putin is a blatant liar. He says there are no Russian troops on Ukraine's soil. He said the same in Crimea, then later admitted that of course Russian troops backed the loyal separatists. When will he admit his lies this

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The meaning of ethnicity and culture in Ukraine

Millenia of migrations and co-existing populations create a golden heritage

Ukrainians are for the most part a tolerant people.  Despite the corruption that was rampant under Yanukovych, there was a greater degree of freedom in Ukraine than there has been in Russia under ex-KGB chief Putin's rule.  Kyiv Post has been reporting in English frankly and other media have had relative freedom to tell it as they see it, with a few exceptions. Tetiana Chornovol, a prominent Ukrainian civic activist and journalist was beaten on Christmas Day and said she believes her attackers were paid to kill her. This was after she took photos of Yanukovych's and other oligarchs palaces being built behind massive walls.  Were they building the walls to keep themselves safe inside or keep prying eyes out? Did they think they could fool all the people forever? What did they do with all that loot?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Religion in Ukraine

Byzantine Rite Catholic is Orthodox, isn't it?

I have had to answer this question more times than I can count. Now, living in a very Roman Catholic country, I find it's even more curious that very few people have even heard of Byzantine Catholic. I mean Catholic is Catholic, isn't it. Not quite.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Look them in the eye and tell Ukraine she is on her own. Or not.

Western sanctions and anti-Russian rhetoric may have little meaning and effect...the answer may lie in China. 

I have been watching, like many Ukrainians in the diaspora, and waiting to see how things will unfold after the Russian annexation of Crimea. I cringed when the un-Russian troops marched into the Ukrainian barracks and marched the bewildered Ukrainian soldiers out, taking the Commander, Admiral Serhiy Haiduk, away as hostage. The Russians released him Thursday as they ousted Ukrainian forces from bases around Crimea.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ukraine isn't dead yet!

The Prophetic Ukrainian National Anthem: Shche ne vmerla Ukraina! 

Plast group Nezabudky performing traditional Ukrainian songs in Philadelphia circa 1970

The count is in from Crimea and not surprisingly the vote is 96% in favor of Crimea joining Russia. Of course there were only two choices on the ballot: 1) join Russia 2) have greater independence from Ukraine. And of course, the Ukrainians and Tatars boycotted the vote and the troops stationed there were not allowed to vote. So who voted? The Russians. Of course, they would vote in favor. I wouldn't be surprised if they also got paid for showing up at the polls.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Russian and Ukrainian are the same language, aren't they?

The politics of language and culture

My sister, Oksana, at Plast camp in NY - a typical Ukrainian American

When I was growing up in America, we did not yet have a television but we did manage to get a phone with a party line. Those old enough to remember will understand this strange phenomenon of sharing phone lines with neighbors and being able to listen in on their conversations. Except it didn't do us much good as we didn't understand a word of English.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tensions escalating around Ukraine

Fear creeping in...along with the hope that there are still options. 

Our family aboard the USS Constitution setting sail for America.

Some of you who read my first entry in this blog mentioned that there was an anti-immigrant sentiment when you arrived in America. It caused us to congregate together in a support structure that allowed the children to flourish, slowly integrate and change the perceptions of those around us. It took a bit of effort, and often we did the melting pot thing and became American to the world. But inside, we never gave up that feeling of being different and connected by a common bond wherever we chose to reside.  We never gave up hope that the promised land would offer new options. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Being Ukrainian in the Diaspora

A foreigner in my home land

Ukrainian-American family at home in 1958. I'm the baby. 

by Daria Blackwell

I grew up Ukrainian in America.  My parents were immigrants from this Eastern European country with a rich culture and tumultuous history.  They left their country unwillingly when the Bolshevik and German fronts collided on their doorstep during WWII.  They were among the millions of displaced persons leaving a land they loved for the unknown but promised potential of life in a more peaceful world. More on that later.