Thursday, November 26, 2009
His Excellency Ihor Ostash, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada and Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, co-hosted the Holodomor Commemoration Ceremony on behalf of the Embassy of Ukraine and the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Vice-Chair of the Friendship Group and Master of Ceremony for the service, reminded guests that the evening would be centred around heightening awareness of the forgotten Famine/Genocide as well as promoting international recognition of this deliberate attempt to exterminate a nation.
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who spoke on behalf of the Government of Canada, reinforced the government`s dedication to “remain committed to remembering the victims and promoting international awareness of this genocide.” The Minister also reminded guests that in 2008, Canada was the first G8 nation to recognize Holodomor as an act of genocide.
Members of the Ukrainian Canadian clergy, Senators, Members of Parliament and representatives from over twenty nations were present to show their support alongside a strong contingent of members from the Ukrainian community who travelled from across Canada and Ukraine to share in the sombre celebration.
Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Mr. Paul Grod was among the speakers along with all parties as Bloc Quebecois MP Bernard Bigras, Liberal MP Bonnie Crombie, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, and Conservative MP Mark Warawa each spoke passionately about different aspects of the atrocities that occurred during the Famine/Genocide. This demonstration of non-partisanship is very admirable, and much appreciated.
The themes of education and awareness were prominent during the evening ceremony as MP James Bezan, alongside representatives from the Canadian Friends of Ukraine, Canad Inns, and The League of Ukrainian Canadians, presented educational Holodomor materials; a Limited Edition Commemorative Stamp Collection, a commemorative historical film and a comprehensive collection of educational tools known as an “Exhibit in a Box,” respectively, to Ms. Lynn Brodie, Director General, Information and Document Services of the Library of Parliament so that future generations will never forget.
The evening’s most poignant moment came when Mrs. Halyna Zelem, a Holodomor survivor, who was only six years old at the time, shared her story. She spoke about her family’s struggles during the Famine/Genocide. Many in the audience were moved to tears as she recounted her story of how her father did all he could to provide for his family.
“He was taken away and we never heard from him again. We never learned what happened to him. He was labelled an enemy of the state. The only thing he was guilty of was providing for his family.”
MP Mark Warawa closed the evening with a statement of hope and a clear message to everyone:
“I am pleased the Library of Parliament now holds important Ukrainian educational material that will help Canadians and the world learn about Holodomor. I hope all countries join Canada in recognizing Holodomor as what it truly was—a genocide.
"Vichnaya Pamyat’ — in eternal memory to the Ukrainians who perished in the Holodomor.”
News of the Quebec reading were reported yesterday and details of the bill can be found here.
Meanwhile, here in British Columbia, a delegation of 14 people watched as New Democrat MLA for Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, introduced Bill M207 in the legislature. The delegation included survivors, local community members, and a retired officer of the Ukrainian Armed Forces currently visiting BC.
Many thanks to MLA Bruce Ralston for his relentless support and efforts to have BC officially recognize and commemorate the Holodomor. He has been at it for some time, as this excerpt from Hansard demonstrates.
The legislation proposes that the fourth Saturday in November every year be commemorated as Holodomor Memorial Day in B.C. It also recognizes the survivors of Holodomor who moved to British Columbia and made a positive contribution to the province. (A draft transcript of Bill M207 can be found here.)
As mentioned in an earlier post, the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor and honouring the survivors of this crime against humanity, as has the federal government.
Pictured here are representatives of BC's Ukrainian community present at the reading in support of Mr. Ralston in his efforts to promote Holodomor recognition and awareness, along with other MLAs.
L-R:Valentyna Kaspryk (survivor), Alexandra Ciacka (wife of survivor), Ludmilla Weaver, Robert Herchak, Myroslav Petriw (Secretary-Treasurer UCC-BC), MLA for Surrey-Whalley Bruce Ralston, Rev. Edward Kwiatkowski, MLA for West Kootenay Katrine Conroy, Roman Brunwald, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers Sue Hammel, MLA far Vancouver-Kensington Mable Elmore (not pictured - Ihor Stanley Osobik and Maria Pomircha) L-R: Mariika Pilip, Bohdan Fedorko, Ludmilla Weaver, Olga Zakhariw (survivor), Peter Zakhariw, Alexander Teliszewsky (visiting officer of Ukrainian Armed Forces ret.)
Photos courtesy Mirko Petriw.
Many thanks to the politicians in both provinces for introducing and supporting these bills. It is inspiring and encouraging to see them put aside their political rivalries from time to time and do the decent human thing together.
Thanks also to the local Canwest folks out east for reporting the story in Quebec, and to the Montreal Gazette for carrying it. Not surprisingly, our local BC media did not see fit to report on the reading here. Likewise it escaped the notice of the national media that two provinces introduced more or less identical legislation on the same day. I guess they do not consider it newsworthy when events and issues bring people together, as opposed to dividing them ... especially in the arena of partisan politics. Which is fine. Gives us citizen journalists an opportunity to hone our skills.
National Holodomor Awareness Week continues through November 29. You can find a list of commemorative events across the country here or visit the UCC website.
Ukraine Remembers – the World Acknowledges
Україна пам'ятає - Світ визнає
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
His press release states that the Holodomor occurred during the period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union, which is true. However, it is still not widely known that by 1932 collectivization was almost complete. So, like drought was cited used at the excuse for genocide before it was debunked, now collectivization has become it is a very handy red herring being used by die-hard deniers to downplay the genocidal nature of the Holodomor.
Nonetheless, this initiative is very welcome, and it is to be hoped that partisan politics do not get in the way of it passing.
The legislation proposes the fourth Saturday in November of each year as Holodomor Memorial Day in British Columbia to memorialize those who perished. The legislation also recognizes the survivors of Holodomor who moved to British Columbia and made a positive contribution to the province.
Meanwhile, in Quebec, Madam Louise Beaudoin, the MNA for Rosemount (PQ) is introducing a similar bill today as well. There, too, it is hoped that partisan politics will take a back seat to human compassion and decency while this bill is passed.
It is a matter of both pride and gratitude to note that Canada's federal government and four provincial governments (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario) have already passed Holodomor memorial bills.
I hope that BC and Quebec will join their ranks today.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Anatoli Ciacka, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, British Columbia Provincial Council/Vancouver Branch, recalls how the Holodomor affected him personally, and discusses his efforts to erect a Holodomor monument in Vancouver.
The interview aired a year ago, but is still relevant today. Click here to listen to the audio file.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Throughout this coming week, Canadians will unite in remembrance on the 76th anniversary of the Holodomor, the famine genocide in Ukraine from 1932-33.
Events across the country will commemorate one of history's most heinous crimes against humanity and honour its victims, who number in the millions. Lectures, film nights, discussions with survivors, and commemorative services will raise awareness of this horrific genocide against the Ukrainian people.
In Canada, communities will begin reading the names of Holodomor victims. A comprehensive list was published in 2008 by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor.
In Toronto, Hamilton and St. Catharines, Ontario, installations of black flags at prominent city locations will pay tribute to the millions of children, women and men who were victims of the Soviet regime's ruthless policy to eliminate a nation.
On November 24, a commemoration ceremony will be held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, sponsored by the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada and the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group.
On Friday, November 27, Holodomor Memorial Day will be marked in schools of the Toronto District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
Saturday, November 28 marks International Holodomor Memorial Day and Holodomor Memorial Day in Canada. On this Memorial Day, all Canadians are asked to honour the memory of the victims with a moment of silence at 9 a.m., and light a candle of remembrance in their homes.
On Sunday, November 29, memorial services will be conducted in churches across the country.
Canadians of all ethnic origins are invited to join the Ukrainian community in remembrance. The Committee for National Holodomor Awareness is coordinating these commemorative events. For more information visit the UCC website.
Ukraine Remembers – The World Acknowledges
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Ron Cahute had hair, and the MC at this festival was my former co-host on Nash Holos from 1990-96, Bohdan Zajcew!
It was great fun watching this. Three fabulous songs ... enjoy!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I guess it's fair to say that there wasn't nearly enough time on the schedule to allow for finding treasures like this restaurant. Something for my next visit ... which I hope will be soon!
In the meantime, there's always this video to enjoy...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
You can use any variety of cultivated mushrooms for this recipe, as long as they’re fresh. Or you could try a combination of cultivated and wild mushrooms from the supermarket.
Ukrainians are known for their love of mushrooms, especially wild ones. Some Ukrainians have an uncanny way of knowing exactly where, when, and how to pick the right ones in the wild. This knowledge is highly prized, as it goes beyond knowing the secret spots for the best mushrooms. It can be a matter of life and death, as some fatally toxic wild mushrooms closely resemble the edible varieties, and can fool any but the most experienced and knowledgeable mushroom pickers.
So whatever you do, please don’t set out on an expedition to pick wild mushrooms for this recipe unless you are an absolute expert at distinguishing edible from toxic varieties. And definitely DO NOT use magic mushrooms! Play it safe and visit your favourite supermarket or green grocer and stock up there.
Fresh Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 lbs fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 large potatoes, diced
1 small parsnip, sliced
1 medium turnip, diced
8 cups of water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup whipping cream (optional)
Sauté the mushrooms and onions and butter. Cook until onions become soft.
Sprinkle with flour and mix.
Cook the other vegetables in water or stock until done. Add the mushroom-onion mixture, stirring while bringing to a boil.
Season to taste and continue to cook over medium heat for ten minutes. Add whipping cream and remove from heat. Puree soup if desired.
Serve with a rich brown bread for a nice hearty lunch. (Serves 8-10.)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It's titled "Metaphors of betrayal." Mykola pretty much explains why east is east and west is west and why never the twain shall meet ... until the West starts to take an interest in the Rest of the world.
The lack of interest in Eastern Europe by North America and western Europe is rooted in the west's self-serving economic system ... and its utter obliviousness to the self-sabotage inherent in its cold and callous narcissism.
Even if the West undertakes no obligations vis-à-vis the Rest, the principles upon which it is built suggest some responsibility, writes Mykola Riabchuk. Ukrainians are particularly wary of the Realpolitik that dominates western dealings with Russia. Whatever one thinks about the "centuries old affinity" between Ukraine and Russia, any policy that downplays the issue of values is fundamentally flawed.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It's by Fr. Bruce Power who hosted A Spiritual Moment on Nash Holos from 2006-2007. Listen to it here.
That year Nash Holos aired the day after Remembrance Day, but the Remembrance Day message still applies today ... and will continue to year after year.
Lest We Forget. ... Вічная Пам'ять!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
(Photo: Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Ambassador Dr. Georg Witschel place a wreath in front of a section of the Berlin Wall at the Government Conference Centre to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Jason Ransom.)
The ceremony took place at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, where a piece of the Berlin Wall has been on public display since 1991. At the ceremony the Prime Minister announced that it will be moved to the Canadian War Museum where it will be available for public viewing.
For almost thirty years, the Berlin Wall separated East Germany from West Germany, a tangible symbol of the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. On November 9, 1989, the government of the former German Democratic Republic announced that travel restrictions had been lifted and that citizens could visit West Germany. In the following weeks and months, citizens began tearing down the concrete division and poured across the border, escaping Communism and finding freedom.
For Canada and its citizens (particularly those familiar with the atrocities committed in the name of communism), the fall of the Berlin Wall holds a special significance. It marked the culmination of forty years of foreign policy objectives pursued in partnership with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. It also reminds us that Canada has welcomed tens of thousands of newcomers fleeing communist regimes.
In 1991, Germany gave Canada an original piece of the Berlin Wall measuring approximately one metre wide and more than three metres high.
“I am pleased to announce that this section of the Berlin Wall will be relocated to the Canadian War Museum as an important relic of the Cold War,” said the Prime Minister. “There, it will honour the men and women of the Canadian Forces who served during that confrontation. It will also complement the memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism, planned for the capital region by Tribute to Liberty.”
Two organizations – Tribute to Liberty and its partner the Open Book group – are proposing to erect a commemorative monument to honour the approximately 100 million lives lost under Communist regimes. According to the organizers, the design and construction of the monument is expected to begin in the fall of 2010 and an unveiling ceremony is scheduled for November 2011.
The monument would recognize the experience of the many Canadians who emigrated to escape these repressive regimes and pay tribute to Canadian ideals of liberty, freedom, democracy and human rights. The monument is to be entitled Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism – Canada, a Land of Refuge.
Incidentally, the "totalitarian" in the name of the memorial is a result of pressure from thin-skinned communists who are (still!) unwilling to acknowledge the atrocities committed in the name of their ideology. They couldn't exactly stop this memorial from being built... these days no one interested in avoiding ridicule dares deny the irrefuatable evidence of atrocities committed by soviet and other communists.
So they demanded that the word "communism" be removed ... ostensibly to make it "inclusive" of all oppressive regimes. (Nothing like detraction to obfuscate irrefutable facts, eh?)
And of course, as fond of political correctness as many of my fellow Canadians are, this worked. They succeeded at getting a qualifier in front of the name... "totalitarian."
Which is fine. The redundant qualifier will just serve as reinforcement of the reality of what communism is. After a close-up look at communism's legacy, it's not likely any intelligent person would regard communism as anything but totalitarian. So those communists with nefarious agendas (and their many useful idiots) will be hoist with their own petard. Good for them.
Congratulations and godspeed to the organizers of this monument. It is long overdue.
To support this noble effort, go here.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Yet, her story about her mom making noodles is so much like mine. Then again, whose mother never said to her kid: "Don’t eat raw dough, your stomach will stick together!" whenever said kid tried to sneak a hunk of it?
I must admit that raw keestu never appealed to me like it did to Judy. But cooked, now there's a different story. Yum!!
Here is Judy's mom's recipe for keestu:
2 cups flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil
Combine all ingredients to make dough. If sticky, keep adding flour, until very stiff. (The stiffer the dough the better the noodles.)
Let dough rest for an hour. Roll out very thin ... 1/8 of an inch thick. Dry on paper for about an hour.
Lay dough on the table, lightly flour and roll up, then cut in half. Starting at one, end slice diagonally to make strips. Spread them out onto the table so they don't stick.
Bring a pot of water to boil. (Judy's mom would add chicken fat so it would not stick, but you can use oil instead.)
Add keestu to water and cook a few minutes ... until el dente.
Or let the noodles dry completely, then bag or put into a plastic container. But chances are they won’t last that long!
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Businesses, professionals, community organizations and loyal listeners of Nash Holos are invited to send out Christmas greetings on programs airing from December 20, 2009 – January 17, 2010. There will be an extra week of Christmas programming this season, so your message can be heard on up to five programs.
You can either provide your own greeting or use the standard one. You can even voice your own greeting! Just let me know as soon as possible to make recording arrangements.
This coming year is particularly special. Vancouver will be in the world spotlight with the 2010 Winter Olympics happening shortly after the Ukrainian Christmas season ends.
As well, 2010 is a double milestone anniversary year for Ukrainian radio in BC. Nash Holos first went on the air on AM1470 in June of 1990 (20 years ago), and after a 4-year hiatus, returned to the airwaves on AM1320 CHMB in July of 2000 (10 years ago). Where did the time go??
I’d just like to take this time to thank those who have supported and patronized Nash Holos over the past two decades. And I hope you’ll continue to support Nash Holos into 2010.
There's a limited amount of time slots available for Christmas greetings, so it's first come, first served! You can download an order form with all the details here .
Saturday, November 07, 2009
These delectable dainties are usually made for special occasions, like Christmas, Easter, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers and funerals. They are so light that they melt in your mouth … and you almost feel like you’re eating nothing but getting a mouthful of flavour. Which is why you can never stop at eating just one!
They are called Khrustyky (or Nothings). For this recipe, you will need:
3 egg yolks plus 2 whole eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sweet cream or evaporated milk
½ half teaspoon vinegar.
1 cup oil or shortening (for frying)
Beat eggs and egg yolks thoroughly. Add all ingredients except the flour and beat again. Add 1 cup flour and stir. If necessary, add more flour, one teaspoon at a time. (Judy add 5-6 teaspoons).
Knead until smooth. Cover and let rest at least fifteen minutes.
On a board that has been lightly greased with oil, then wiped with a paper towel to remove excess oil, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick or thinner.
Slice rolled dough into long strips 1 ¼ inches wide. Slice diagonally the long strips into 2 ½ to 3 ½ inch long pieces.
At the middle of each piece, cut a one and half inch slit. Draw one end through the slit and fold it back. (It will look like a bow tie.)
Place each strip under a clean towel to prevent from drying out. Finish remaining strips.
Deep fry in oil or shortening until strips are golden brown, turning once. Watch carefully, as they fry very fast.
Drain on brown paper or paper towels. When cool dust with icing sugar.
These don't usually last very long on the counter, so be prepared to make many.
Friday, November 06, 2009
This started happening shortly after Ukrainian Day celebrations in Vancouver on September 12, which apparently attracted several visitors from Seattle's Ukrainian community. He speculates that at least one of them may work at Microsoft Corp (or knows someone who does).
Exactly why this sudden interest in his website is unclear, but he thought he'd take advantage of the situation.
As diaspora Ukrainians know all too well, the letter Ґ came under attack as part of the russification policy during the soviet times. This was a not-too-subtle attempt to demoralize Ukrainians and gradually destroy the language. The Ukrainian language has both a sound and a letter for Ґ (sounds like the English hard G) as well as for Г (sounds like the English H). The Russian language has only the Г which sounds like the English hard G.
Confusing, eh? As it was designed to be. And out of the confusion will emerge order, and according to Stalin's plan, Ukrainian would become more like Russian and eventually indistinguishable.
Of course, such a ridiculous plan was doomed to failure, and fail it did. The Ukrainian people adapted, they just used the letter Г for both sounds! Which is fine if you know both languages, and know the context when speaking Ukrainian.
But it leads to total silliness when translating into English, because you can get such gems as Al Hore (Gore) and Bill Hates (Gates). Mirko discusses this in his book Yaroslaw's Treasure so check it out for a good laugh.
During soviet times, then, the Ukrainian alphabet did not include the letter Ґ (since the soviets banned it) although of course diaspora Ukrainians hung on to it for dear life. For them, it remains a symbol of the Cold War, one the West was totally clueless about (and still is).
It really aggravates diaspora Ukrainians that this practice of interchanging the Ґ and the Г is still commonplace amongst Ukrainians in Ukraine (and recent immigrants). However, closer to home one of the more mundane annoyances is the Microsoft keyboard. It does allow one to type the letter Ґ in Ukrainian ... but provided you first tie your arms in a knot and do a backwards somersault mid-air (just about, anyway).
There is a very old font that has a nice phonetic keyboard containng the letter Ґ (where the English G resides) but unfortunately it's not being upgraded to keep up with the changes at Microsoft.
Which brings me back to Mirko. He decided to deal with this aggravation head on. He put up a message on his website to his anonymous visitors from Microsoft, asking them point blank to add the letter Ґ to Microsoft's Ukrainian keyboard layout!
Well, what the hey. No point beating around the bush when you have someone's attention.
You can see the message on the About page at his website. Time will tell if the Ukrainian brainiacs at Microsoft will comply, but it certainly was worth a try.
Tip of the hat to Mirko!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
If you haven't got their CD Знову вдома (Home Again), you can order it through their MySpace site here. If you do have one, order a couple more ... Christmas is coming after all! :-)
Here they are singing Тече вода каламутна - Muddy Water's Flowing.
Monday, November 02, 2009
My friend and fellow blogger Andrew at Ukrainian Canadian does a podcast roundup weekly, so check it out. This week's roundup (including Nash Holos) can be found here.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
There are many flavours, layers and combinations of tortes. Some with cream, some with мак(poppy seed) and chopped nuts, some layered with rich mocha, some with lemon squeezed into the custard, followed with warm lemon icing dripping from the top. Some аре made with layers of waffles filled with jam and whipped cream, then honey covers the top and runs down the sides for a scrumptious dessert that makes your taste buds go wild!
Here is an exceedingly good-layered nut torte, the queen of all tortes! It immigrated to Canada after the Second World War. It is made of two different batter mixtures, with an absolutely luscious filling.
Ukrainian Walnut-Almond Torte Walnut Layers (2):
8 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 cups walnuts, grated
4 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
Beat the egg yolks until light. Add the sugar gradually and beat until thick and fluffy. Stir in the nuts and breadcrumbs.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the mixture.
Butter two 9" deep layer pans (shallow pans may cause the batter to run over in the oven) with soft butter and sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs. Spoon the batter into the pans.
Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done when tested.
Remove from the pans and place on a cake rack.
Almond Layer (1):
3 to 4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup grated almonds
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
Beat the egg yolks until light. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until thick and fluffy. Beat in the lemon rind and juice. Stir in the almonds and breadcrumbs.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the mixture. Spoon the batter into a deep, buttered layer cake pan sprinkled with breadcrumbs.
Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Remove from the pan and place on a cake rack.
Prepare the following filling:
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons strong cool coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Blend the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan. Cook this mixture over simmering water, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Remove it from the heat and cool.
Cream the butter, then add the remaining 1 cup of sugar gradually, and continue creaming until smooth.
Blend in the yolk-sugar mixture, coffee, and vanilla. Beat thoroughly.
Spread this filling between the three layers of the torte, on the sides, and over the top. Decorate with toasted, slivered almonds.
Friday, October 30, 2009
"Okradena Zemlya" translates into English as "Plundered Land." What I found different about this film from other Holodomor films is that watching it was like picking a scab off a sore too soon. Or, to word it more elegantly, reopening an old wound.
But the former description is really what it felt like for me. I can't talk with any credibility about re-opening wounds because my parents were Canadian-born toddlers when the Holodomor was happening, and all my (known) relatives had long since emigrated to Canada. So I didn't have a wound; I learned about the Holodomor in university in the 1980s. And while I was outraged and horrified, what I felt was just a surface cut compared to what survivors experienced, and carried with them, for decades.
Nonetheless, picking a scab off a cut that hasn't completely healed can hurt, and even bleed. And that is what I felt when I watched this film.
It wasn't just an academic recitation of the details of a horrific mass murder. The film portrayed the sense of hope and optimism that soviet socialism promised, particularly with the (short-lived) Ukrainianization of culture in the Ukrainian SSR. Then it depicted, vividly and graphically, the hope gradually dimming under the mounting sense of betrayal, disbelief, and abject horror that the people who lived (and died) through it would have experienced.
Somehow, Yurij was able to simulate that excruciating, gradual realization of what was happening, and the accompanying sense of utter helplessness. It was so stark that I couldn't even cry. I was numb.
The film was all in Ukrainian so, unfortunately, I missed a lot of the nuances. There's an English version planned, but funds are needed before it can be completed. Which is why Yurij is touring Canada with the film.
If you understand Ukrainian, even imperfectly, you need to see this film. If you missed the screening, buy a copy or two of the DVD and/or make a donation. An English version will get the message to more people, so that more will hopefully learn from it.
You can go to this website (here) for more information about the film. You can make a donation there as well as order this film and/or any of Yurij Luhovy's other excellent productions.
I was fortunate to be able to speak with Yurij by phone a couple of weeks before his arrival in Vancouver. The interview aired on Nash Holos on October 11 and features cuts from the soundtrack. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Do you know of an interesting, informative speaker on timely Ukrainian issues?
Are you writing a book on Ukrainian topics?
Is your organization contemplating a project with an academic Ukrainian element?
If the answer is yes, then you may be eligible for financial assistance from the Ukrainian Studies Foundation of BC.
The Ukrainian Studies Foundation of BC has, for 20 years, promoted and supported Ukrainian studies at all educational levels, and co-operated with other institutions or societies in programs consistent with these aims.
To accomplish its aims, USF-BC provides seed money to organizations that partner with it and entertains interesting and worthwhile proposals for financial support.
Members of the board of directors represent diverse professional expertise and community involvement. USF-BC has supported Ukrainian language and history courses at BC universities, Ukrainian school programs for children and adults, lecturers and speakers at community events, the publication of books of Canadian authors on Ukrainian subjects, the publication of promotional materials for historical events, a library cataloguing project, sale and promotion of books at public events.
USF-BC derives its funding from bequests and donations, is registered as a Society in BC and a charitable organization with Canada Revenue Agency, and issues tax receipts for donations and bequests.
To inquire about partnering, financial assistance, or donations, get in touch with Lydia Huzyk by email or leave a message at 604-437-1464.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I'm not crazy about the sleazy costumes the dancers are wearing, but the song is great. It comes close to that uniquely Ukrainian genre of contemporary music that I keep hoping will materialize and take the world by storm.
The artist is Natalka Buchinska. I really like her music but unfortunately don't have any of her CDs for broadcast. If I did, she'd get a lot of airplay. And if it came with liner notes in English translation, Nash Holos listeners would be able to get to know her better. (I hope her manager reads this blog!)
Here's the video:
Here's another he also sent me a while ago. (Thanks, Ronnie!)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It’s now a family favorite in her home. She makes it for fall parties and her guests just love the idea of pudding in a pumpkin.
Here's the recipe:
2 cups milk
1 cup long grain rice
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
3 tablespoons sugar.
1 cup seedless raisins
1 whole medium sized pumpkin (preferable with a stem)
1 cup chopped blanched almonds.
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat milk in a heavy pot. Add rice and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook 15 minutes.
Melt the butter in a skillet, add the pumpkin and sugar.
Plump raisins in hot water and then drain. Add raisins, chopped almonds, almond extract and cinnamon to the cooked rice.
Cut the top of the pumpkin to make a lid. Remove the seeds and membrane. Butter the inside generously.
Fill with half of the rice mixture, then a layer of pumpkin puree, then the rest of the rice mixture. Dot with butter.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place pumpkin on a greased baking pan or cookie sheet and bake for one hour until heated through. Y ou can also bake the pudding in small individual pumpkins. Just carve out eight miniature pumpkins and follow instructions above.
For a festive look, serve in harvest fruit nappies or small carved out pumpkins. Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serves 8.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This plaque is one of a series that have been placed across Canada, starting in 1994. Each marker is located at or near the site of a WWI Canadian internment camp.
Thousands of men, and some women and children, were interned because of where they had come from, who they were. None of them were guilty of any disloyalty, yet they found themselves branded as 'enemy aliens,' stripped of what little wealth they had, and forced to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers.
"By recalling this unfortunate episode in Canadian history, we hope to ensure that no other ethnic, religious or racial minority ever suffers state-sanctioned indignities of the kind that Ukrainians and others did during the First World War period," said Andrea Malysh, a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the local co-ordinator of the event.
I interviewed Andrea to get some information on the unveiling ceremonies and some background on what happened at the camp, and why the unfortunate internees built "The Highway to Nowhere" under less than ideal conditions. It aired on Nash Holos last Sunday, but if you missed it, you can listen to it here.
The ceremonies will begin at 10:30am on Saturday, 24 October 2009, at the Edgewood Internment Camp Site Entrance, in Edgewood, British Columbia. (10 kms off of Hwy 6, 2 hours east of Vernon. )
For more information on the event and the eight WWI internment camps in BC, contact her at the local UCCLA number (250) 558-2959 or visit the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association website.
This past year, the federal government finally officially acknowledged this travesty visited on Ukrainian and other East European immigrants during the WWI era, and symbolically returned the confiscated wealth of the internees, which had never been returned to them or their families. This symbolic gesture came in the form of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund. There's more information here.
The group plays very lyrical, autumnal rock music with progressive rock and neoclassical influences. They recently released their debut album "Елегія" (Elehia, Eng: Elegy) in August.
Обійми Дощу has very generously put up the tracks for free download on their website. However, I would encourage you to purchase their CD as well. By doing so, you'll find out more about this interesting and very talented group in the accompanying 10-page booklet. Most importantly, however, you'll be encouraging these incredibly talented musicians to continue creating and sharing their beautiful music.
That booklet and CD are on their way to Nash Holos, and when they arrive I'll be doing a CD of the Week feature. So make sure to stay tuned!
In the meantime, I'll be sharing a few tracks while we await the arrival of the package from Volodymyr.
Their debut track on Nash Holos was Самотні ночі (Samotni nochi Eng: Lonely nights) and aired last Sunday, October 18. Here's a video clip for you to enjoy:
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is a very old tradition dating back to medieval times. When a Ukrainian boy wanted to marry a girl, he did not buy her a ring and he did not ask her, “Will you marry me?” on bended knee in a romantic place somewhere.
No, in Ukraine a different method was used to ask her hand in marriage. The suitor had to find two special people (a relative or friend) and he went with these people to the house of the girl he wanted to marry.
Ukrainians call these two special people Starosty or Svaty. Starosty must be a wise person and preferably with a good sense of humor because they will make a special speech to the parents of the future bride. Usually Starosty were men, but the odd time they would be women.
So, Starosty and the potential fiancé would come to the girl’s parents and gave a special speech. At the end of this speech, they would ask the parents to allow their daughter to be the wife of this young man. But, the parents usually answered, “We need to ask the opinion of our daughter.”
The girl stayed silent, and if she wanted to marry this man, she would tie a ceremonial embroidered towel over the shoulder of each of the Starosty. She would also tiesa nice shawl on the hand of the young man.
But if she doesn't want to marry him, then the Starosty got nothing and the young man received a pumpkin from the girl!
Parents who had very pretty daughters often heard from friends and neighbours: “Oh, you need to grow a big garden of pumpkins!”
The Ukrainian tradition of giving a pumpkin to the loser is almost gone in today’s times. When a modern Ukrainian boy proposes marriage to a girl, he buys her a ring as is done in the rest of the world.
But the saying “to get a pumpkin” is still very popular in Ukraine. This phrase usually means that somebody has said “no” to you in a very important business matter. Also, if Ukrainians say about some man, “He got a pumpkin from his girlfriend” it means the same as it did several centuries ago.
Eating pumpkin is a different story altogether, however! Ukrainian men like eating pumpkin just as much as women do, all the world over.
Here’s a unique recipe that comes courtesy of Ludmilla, one of the ladies who works in the kitchen at Prairie Cottage Perogies. She doesn’t have a name for it, but Judy and I decided to call it Ludmilla’s Pumpkin Platsok.
For this recipe you will need perogy dough of your choice, a pumpkin filling, oil and a frying pan. And of course a rolling pin. :-)
If you don’t have your own perogy dough recipe, here’s Judy's:
3 cups flour
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
Mix together until smooth, form a ball, cover in plastic and let rest for 20 min.
While it’s resting, make the pumpkin filling. In a bowl combine, contents of a 14 ounce can of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) with ¼ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, allspice and, if desired, ginger.
Divide the dough into three. Roll out one third very thin (the thickness of a Canadian dime) in a square shape.
Spread one third of the pumpkin mixture evenly over the dough. Bring each corner over to meet in the middle. Seal the edges by tapping the dough lightly.
Add a bit of oil to a large frying pan or flat grill, about 2 tablespoons. Heat until slightly smoking
Carefully place the dough into the pan. Fry until golden brown, then flip. (You will need to use 2 egg turners or a very large flipper. ) Fry until golden brown, then slide onto a plate. Sprinkle with sugar or dust with icing sugar.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
This is a great way to use up left-over perogy dough. You can also use any kind of fruit or pie filling — use your imagination and create a new family favorite!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
As I wrote in an earlier post (here) they've had their first CD release concert in Winnipeg and have another one coming up in Edmonton next weekend.
Dobryan Tracz, the group's guitarist and "elder statesman" has promised me an interview to air on Nash Holos sometime in November along with a CD of the Week feature. So stay tuned!
In the meantime, there are samples of some recent live performances in Toronto and Winnipeg on the UkeTube channel of YouTube. Here are a a few that you’ll find there:
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Excerpts from President Yushchenko's Green Clearing Press Conference of Sept. 30, 2009 (Part 1 of 2)
Rather than commenting on matters pertaining to Ukraine myself, today I think I will let Ukraine’s President, Victor Yushchenko do all the talking. Very recently – on September 30th, in fact – President Yushchenko held an outdoor press conference in Kyiv. I think that forever more it will become known as the Green Clearing press conference, or the “прес-конференція на зеленій галявині”. What the President said are things that needed to be spelled out, but are rarely actually stated by Ukraine’s politicians. President Yushchenko spoke like a statesman, not a politician.
For the benefit of the English speaking community I will dare to translate some salient moments from his answers.
“What can we do, so that we, in our own country, do not feel like Little Russians, like khokhly, like servants, so that we do not feel that we are sitting on the stoop of a church and praying to the 450 honorable men that should be self aware enough to do all those things that 46 million people expect?
Why do we not feel that we are masters on this land, nor feel that we in fact form the government, that we set the priorities?
For example, is it right for the nation to sit and plead that unlimited parliamentary immunity be cancelled?
That fact is an embarrassment to anyone living in the 21st century. We were not creating a caste system. We had declared that we were a free country and that all are equal before the law. So why are all not quite so equal as claimed in the Constitution, nor as desired by the nation? Why do we suffer people in politics that clearly do not share our Ukrainian values?”
Further on Yushchenko said:
“And I will speak to this also. Two thirds of my emotions, my feelings -I will address to you, dear journalists, so that you remain the guardians of those democratic values that we fought for in this country. Only through democracy does this country have any hope for independence and territorial integrity. Everything else leads to our colonization.”
And later, when asked about his chances in the next Presidential election, he said:
“I’ve said many times, that I am not interested in where Yushchenko end up. I am self-sufficient. That is not the question. Excuse me, but as a citizen, I’m not very interested in the name of the Presidential candidate. I’m only interested in one thing. What kind of a country will we have in two or three years? That is all.”
“Speaking plainly, I will win the election. I have no doubt, no doubt at all. But if I don’t, believe me it will never be a tragedy for me. […] You will evaluate this without prejudice, and you will be proud of those four years that you lived in the Ukraine that was created by President Yushchenko. I do not think that you will return to the year 2004.”
“I am convinced that you will not forget the freedom of speech that Yushchenko’s politics brought. Quietly we will begin to get used to the fact that we are a nation-state, that we are a free nation, that we have fundamental democratic rights, the right to choose.”
“You know, […] I simply know that there could have been a different path and a different direction. - With the downfall of national values, with a forgotten past, with a forgotten language, with forgotten books. I do not speak of defense matters, where believe me, I’d like to have seen people next to me that knew how to spell the word NATO. Or how to lead the country into a system of collective European security, and not in the opposite direction.”
“I will not sign the Budget prepared for 2010 that gives the Military only 8.3 billion Hryvnias. That is the Budget of the destruction of Ukraine’s armed forces. That is an insult to a soldier, to an officer and to the defense of this country. […] Today a pilot of Ukraine’s Air Force gets only 4.7hrs flying time per year. We have 250 such pilots that are supposed to defend our skies.”
When asked about the ongoing investigation of his own infamous Dioxin poisoning, he replied:
“Regarding your question about my poisoning, the three individuals that invited me, cooked the food, and served it, are citizens of Russia and live in Moscow.”
When asked about Moscow’s attempts to influence the election, Yushchenko said:
“The influence will be as strong as usual. But the results will be weak. Why? Because with every year the people that call themselves citizens of Ukraine, understand that who will be the President is an answer that is theirs to give, not anyone else. That is all.
And whom would Russia like to see as President? It is easier for me to say whom they don’t want, for all the others they would want. For that I should direct you to (Russian President) Dmytro Medvedev’s letter. It seems to me that the answer is written somewhere there between the lines.”
This again was a few excerpts from President Yushchenko’s Green Clearing press conference. He said so much more than can be squeezed into this program. Next Sunday I’ll share a little more, so make sure to tune in.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Prune juice is made by softening prunes through steaming and then putting them through a pulper to create a watery puree. Prunes and prune juice contain significant amounts of dietary fiber and a natural laxative, and are thus common home remedies for constipation. (Faster results are obtained by heating the prune juice.) Prunes also have high antioxidant content.
In years past, sweets made with prunes and plums were common in Ukrainian Canadian homes, especially for wedding showers and Christmas.
This outstanding torte is low in fat but high in fibre and flavour … it only tastes rich and decadent! It’s a family favourite of Judy’s, handed down generations. It’s easy to make and freezes well.
2 cups flour
2 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ tsp soda
1 ½ cup prunes
Place prunes in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat until softened (4-5 minutes).
Sift dry ingredients together; add oil and beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly.
Mix ½ teaspoon soda into the buttermilk, and add to the batter. Add softened prunes.
Pour batter into two 9 inch round layer cake pans or three 8-inch pans lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until tester inserted into cake comes out dry. (Be sure not to insert it into a prune.) Cake should be a light golden colour.
Fill and ice with your favorite icing (chocolate is nice) or a lemon or rum glaze. For an even more intense fruit flavour, fill with plum butter or a thick plum jam.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Certainly at this time of year, the leaves are bright and vividly coloured ... as you can see in these beautiful photos taken by Fr. Bruce Power of the kalyna tree on the patio of his home in Surrey, BC.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Zrada fuses together a variety of contemporary genres (punk rock, reggae, ska) with the traditional sounds of traditonal folk music of Ukraine and other parts of eastern Europe.
Not to take away from them, but my first impression was that they reminded me of The Ukrainians of Leeds, England and other ethno-fusion groups like Mandry of Ukraine and Gogol Bordello of the United States.
These are no doubt influences. But they have a distinct sound all their own, which becomes more apparent after listening to the CD a second and third time. It likely is also apparent if you can hear them live!
Last month they performed at Toronto's Ukrainian Bloor Street Festival and with Haydamaky in Winnipeg. Those fortunate enough to be living in Winnipeg and Edmonton will have the opportunity to see them perform live this coming weekend and again later this month.
In Winnipeg: Friday, October 9 at the West End Cultural Centre at 8:15 pm (doors open at 7:30). Tickets are $15 available at Oseredok, WECC and Zrada.
In Edmonton: Friday, October 23 at Walkabout Pub at 9 pm. For ticket details contact the Ukrainian Students Society at the University of Alberta.
Listeners of Nash Holos will be hearing much more of Zrada in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can find out more about them at their website.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
“I welcome the signing of this document as a further example of Ukraine’s commitment to democratic reform and a testament to our strong and growing bilateral relationship,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada attaches great importance to its relations with Ukraine, a key European partner. Canada has a significant Ukrainian-Canadian community of over a million people.”
The Canada-Ukraine relationship encompasses political, trade, defence and security relations, as well as technical assistance and people-to-people contacts.
“Canada is a strong supporter of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and will continue to partner with Ukraine in that regard,” said Minister Cannon.
“The signing of these important contracts will deepen our partnership with Ukraine in some critical sectors of our economies, such as agricultural equipment and services,” said Minister Day. “These contracts are great examples of the kind of connections we need to make to create new opportunities for our people to succeed in the years ahead.”
The contracts, worth over $640 million, are for the design and engineering of grain-storage facilities and milk-collection systems across Ukraine. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.-West Group Engineering has also reached an agreement with Ukraine's Ministry of Health to build medical clinics across rural Ukraine.
While in Ukraine, Minister Day also oversaw the signing of an agreement valued at $254 million between MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Richmond, B.C., and the National Space Agency of Ukraine to build satellite communications systems in advance of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament being co-hosted by Ukraine.
During his visit, Minister Day annouced the launch of talks with Ukraine on a free trade agreement and met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, to address a number of challenges related to the ability of Canadian businesses to invest in the Ukrainian market. Minister Day also met with the General Director of the National Space Agency, Olexandr Zinchenko, to support Canadas strong commercial relationship with Ukraine, which is marked by growing trade and investment, and cooperation in the aerospace sector.
Finally, Minister Day met with Ukraine's Minister of Fuel and Energy, Yurii Prodan, to discuss the feasibility of Canadian CANDU technology for the expansion of Ukraine's nuclear program.
Photo: Minister Day and Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, witness the signing of commercial contracts between Canada’s SNC-Lavalin/West Group Engineering and Ukraine’s UkrAgroLeasing.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
An FTA with Ukraine could further open markets for Canadian exports ranging from agricultural and seafood products to machinery and pharmaceuticals. It could also help to address non-tariff barriers.
Day made the announcement with Ukraine’s Minister of Economics, Bohdan Danylyshyn, right after the negotiations with the Ministry of Economics. Both Canada and Ukraine have agreed to meet in the coming months to discuss a range of trade and investment issues to facilitate economic relations and fight protectionism.
In theory, and in practice if followed faithfully, free trade agreements help to strengthen the economy, create new jobs and lower prices for consumers in all countries involved.
Govt announcement can be found here.
Photo: Minister Day addresses a Canadian, Ukrainian and international business audience in Kyiv.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I've waited a long time to hear music as well as sentiments like this expressed by young Ukrainians. There is such a great undiscovered wealth in Ukrainian folk music, and I've been bitterly disappointed that Ukraine's music industry has failed to mine the country's "acres of diamonds" that this incredible music represents.
The amazing folk band Ludy Dobri from Lviv has the vision and the moxy to explore and excel at this genre which, in a desperate quest to copy commercial crap, many producers as well as consumers of contemporary Ukrainian music overlook and undervalue. I sincerely hope this group's tour of eastern Canada (Ontario) is part of a new trend in commercial music.
Liudy Dobri is:
Yura - Vocals, Tsymbaly (Hammer Dulcimer)
Vova - Cello
Stas - Buxhalo, Percussion
Marczyk - Violin
Marek - Violin
Rostyk - Bouzouki
You can find out more about Ludy Dobri here, their Canadian tour, and sample some of the tunes from their new CD. I'd love a copy (and purchase details) to share with listeners of Nash Holos. Hopefully one will arrive soon.
In the meantime I'm able to share with you, my dear readers, these great videos, courtesy UkeTube. :-)
Monday, September 21, 2009
The buckwheat filling in her recipe comes courtesy of one of her customers. Not long ago, several members of the Eleniak family from Edmonton (yes, … those Eleniaks, descendants of the first Ukrainian settlers to Canada) were visiting the west coast. Four of them dropped into Judy's restaurant for a meal and had a lovely visit. Before they left, they presented her with an autographed copy of their family cookbook.
As she said in the radio segment, at her restaurant they’re running a very close second to the ever-popular rice and bacon cabbage rolls. It's surprising, or maybe not ... there aren't many places to get them.
Judy's recipe for buckwheat holubtsi is an adaptation of the one in the Eleniak family cookbook. I have tried and tested the filling and can honestly say that it is totally yummy. I make "lazy holubtsi" (just layer the filling with sautéd cabbage mixed with a bit of sauerkraut, if desired) but Judy specializes in the traditional cabbage rolls. Either way, they're delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Bring to a boil 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 1/2 cups roasted buckwheat, and about 3 tablespoons of chicken base. (If the brand of base you use tends to be quite salty, cut back on the amount). Simmer until all the water is absorbed. Chop 1/2 lb of bacon and a large onion. Fry the bacon first, and when it’s almost done add the chopped onion and fry for 10 more minutes.
Mix bacon and onion into buckwheat, add black pepper to taste, and cool.
Core a head of cabbage and immerse in a pot of boiling water. When the leaves loosen, take the cabbage out of the water. Peel off the leaves gently, and trim the veins. If leaves are too large, cut them into 2 or 3 smaller pieces.
Place 1 tablespoon of buckwheat mixture onto each leaf, then roll and tuck ends in. Place cabbage rolls into a buttered casserole dish or small roaster.
Pour a cup of tomato juice (or one can of tomato soup mixed with a can of water) over the cabbage rolls. Bake at 350ºF until cabbage is tender, about an hour and a half.
To be really decadent, chop or slice another large onion and fry in about some butter. When cabbage rolls are done, spoon onions and butter over them.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The group's lead man is Eugene Hutz, and I have to admit I found him brilliant in the movie Everything is Illluminated.
From what I can tell his most recent performance on the silver screen will be similarly brilliant. Although I am not a fan of punk, I find Hutz utterly fascinating. There is no denying he is an incredible performer and a very smart and savvy businessman. In an interview for Backpack Rock, I also found him very thoughtful and dedicated to his art. He seems like quite a well-rounded guy.
I've never been a big fan of Madonna (altho I do adore her "Spanish Lullaby") but there is no denying she is a brilliant businesswoman and self-promoter as well (to understate the obvious). This movie (which is her directing debut), is custom-made for Hutz... seedy but thought provoking.
As for Gogol Bordello's music, apart from the profanity, I find it fascinating and thought-provoking as well. It's high-energy and highly irreverent, and along with their outstanding musicianship, it's no surprise the group has such a rabidly loyal, and sizable, following.
I suspect, however, that many of their fans in North America may be missing some of the cultural nuances in their lyrics. For example, I wonder how many mainstream Americans and Canadians can relate to this song as well as those of Ukrainian and East European heritage can:
Gotta give Hutz credit for giving American culture a big poke in the eye, and making money in the process!
Speaking of which, tickets for Gogol Bordello are available at Ticketmaster. It's probably a good idea to order them soon...
Friday, September 11, 2009
It talks about an open letter by Ukraine's intellectuals, politicians and civic activists expressing fears that Russia could use military force against Ukraine. The authors appeal to parliaments, governments and peoples of the world to hold an international conference to provide guarantees for Ukraine’s security.
It was made public on September 10 and the full text was published in the Kyiv Post (here). It is now being widely circulated in the Ukrainian diaspora via email.
The signatories include former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, writer Yuriy Andrukhovych and honorary dean of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Vyacheslav Brukhovetsky.
Another is Mykola Riabchuk, writer, publicist and political commentator who recently visited Canada and spoke to Nash Holos listeners last year. (This audio clip is the first of Mykola's commentaries on NH. The remainder of the series is archived here.)
Lest anyone be inclined to dismiss this fear by Ukrainian citizens, State Russian Duma Vice Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky recently advocated an air assault on Ukraine to "protect" Russian-speakers in Ukraine. One Russian-speaker in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv recently shared his perspective (in English) on the prospect of such "protection" of his Russian language rights on his blog (here).
This sabre-rattling is hardly the first instance. It's just the most recent, one of the most blatant, and Ukrainians are sick and tired of it ... and the apathy of fair-weather supporters.that call themselves democracies.
Imagine if the United States threatened an air assault on Canada to "protect" English speakers in Quebec. Imagine if the president of the United States said that Canada wasn't a "real country." Imagine if the United States government accused the Canadian government of tampering with oil and gas flow through commercial pipelines between our two companies.
Such actions would be in total violation of international law, not to mention respect for the sovereignty of nations. And I can just imagine the hue and cry from democracies around the world were such things to occur in North America. So where's the hue and cry when it happens in Eastern Europe?
It's about time western democracies started to show some backbone ... and genuine support for democracy in Ukraine, at the very least as much as the rest of Eastern Europe currently enjoys. Because if lip service for democracy is all we're willing to give, that's all we're going to end up with.
Here's the text of the letter:
The foundation of the Ukrainian independent state in 1991 was one of the important results and, at the same time, one of the guarantees of the end of the global conflict between the “East” and the “West”, the twofold division of Europe, and the spread of the ideals of freedom and democracy in the world. Ukraine made its considerable contribution to the world’s and European security by renouncing its nuclear weapons. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994 was then confirmed by the respective guarantees of the state–members of the UN Security Council. At the time, this resolution, along with the concurrent expansion of the EU and the Euro-Atlantic system of collective security played an important role in the strengthening European security.
Today, however, one cannot fail to notice the inefficiency of these guarantees. The Russian government intentionally took on a political course towards the destruction of the existing system of security. One of the key aspects of this policy is the attempt to force Ukraine to serve the needs of Russia’s geopolitical interests. This strategy resulted in the sharp escalation of tensions in the relationships between the two states. Russia’s informational war against Ukraine took on unprecedented forms. The Russian public is presented with the image of Ukrainians as an enemy and a major destabilizing factor in the relationships between the EU and Russia.
The Russian side does not even allow for the view that the Ukrainian foreign policy towards Ukraine’s accession to the NATO is an sovereign right of our state; that Ukraine’s pro-Western foreign policy cannot be considered as an action against Russia but that it rather serves as a reflection of Ukraine’s national interests. Ukraine voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons. Ukraine can only resist its contemporary foreign challenges and threats within the system of collective security.
The address of the President of Russia on August 11, 2009 became one of the steps in the realization of Kremlin's foreign policy that outwardly ignores Ukrainian sovereignty, reveals Russia’s intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, and contradicts the generally accepted norms of international law. The Ukrainian people respect the democratic choice of the Russian people and demand the reciprocal respect for its own choice as well. The decision of the Russian President to postpone the appointment of an ambassador to Ukraine in anticipation of the potential arrival of a new authority in our country that, as President Medvedev hopes, would lead a different (apparently more friendly towards Russia) policy, can be only assessed as an outward pressure of the neighboring country on the electoral choices of Ukrainian citizens.
We regret that the Russian government consistently ignores the lessons of history. We hope that the new elites of our neighboring country would be primarily preoccupied with the liberties, rights, and well-being of the peoples of their own Federation. We do not doubt that the existing tensions provoked by the Russian authoritative leadership are superficial and temporary. The depth and the profundity of the interpersonal relationships between representatives of the two peoples – Ukrainians and Russians – will eventually restore the friendly relationships between our countries.
At the same time, we believe that the recent address of Russian President, Vladimir Medvedev, to Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, marks a substantially new phase in the attitudes of the Russian authoritative leadership towards Ukraine. For the first time in many years, indications have emerged that Kremlin does not exclude the use of force as its means of geopolitical influence in Ukraine.
There are other indications of this geopolitical strategy. Among them are President Medvedev’s proposal to the Russia’s State Duma of a draft law that allows the use of Russian armed forces outside of the territory of the Russian Federation and the launching of a respective propagandist campaign. We consider the following -- Russia’s President’s disrespectful neglect of V. Yushchenko's written response, the unfounded accusations of Ukrainian soldiers being involved in last year's war in Georgia on the side of Georgia by the Russian Prosecutor's Office; the Russian President’s treatment of the necessary actions of Ukrainian policemen in Crimea as an adverse attempt to impinge on the activity of Russia’s Black Sea fleet -- as the direct propagandist justification of a possible military intervention into Ukraine’s internal affairs with the aim of smothering Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom, and transforming Ukraine into a territory of Russia’s immediate influence and control. Russia’s rhetoric towards Ukraine brings home the horrible historical examples of the 1930s.
We realize the transparent nature of the Ukrainian political system, the detrimental impact of the existing antagonism within Ukraine's leadership, all serious factors that reduce the efficiency of Ukraine’s foreign policy and hinder its economic growth. Ukraine is nevertheless a large and free country with huge democratic potential that is heading on the road towards the implementation of the European system of law. This is a country that during its eighteenth years of independence achieved respect and became an important subject of European policy. The subordination of Ukraine to Russia’s strategy threatens to return the division of Europe. It could cause direct threats to the international and national security of the EU member-states, lead to a decrease in general trust and security in Europe and the escalation of tensions and antagonism in international relationships in general.
We appeal to the governments of the USA, Great Britain, France and China with the proposal to organize an international conference of the guarantor-states regarding § 6 of the Budapest Memorandum with the aim to provide real guarantees of security to Ukraine, declared in the Memorandum.
We also appeal to the governing institutions of the EU to take a clear and non-ambivalent position regarding the sovereignty of Ukraine; to warn Russian against any attempts of intruding into Ukraine’s internal affairs.
We appeal separately to the state-members of the Visegrad Group (which always favored Ukraine and its Euro-Atlantic endeavors) with the request to design their common or separate positions regarding the agravation of Ukraine-Russia’s relationships.
Yurij Andukhovych, writer
Viacheslav Briukhovetskyi, Hero of Ukraine, Doctor of Philology, the honorary Rector of the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.”
Bohdan Havrylyshyn, foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D., head of the Supervisory Council of the International Institute of Management.
Semen Gluzman, civil rights defender, the acting secretary of the Association of Ukraine’s Psychiatrists, director of the American-Ukrainian Council of the Defense of Human Rights.
Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ph.D. in History, professor, head of the Institute of Historical Research of Ivan Franko Lviv National University of Ukraine.
Mykola Zulyns’kyi, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, head of Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Oxana Zabuzhko, writer.
Serhii Komisarenko, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences (biology); head of O.V. Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Leonid Kravchuk, Hero of Ukraine, the first President of Ukraine.
Vasyl Kremin’, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, president of the Pedagogical Academy of Ukraine.
Yurii Laniuk, composer.
Levko Lukianenko, Hero of Ukraine.
Myroslav Marynovych, first vice-president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, president of the Institute of the History of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University.
Myroslav Popovych, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, head of Hryhorii Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Serhii Rakhmanin, journalist, editor of the politics section of the weekly “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.”
Mykola Riabchuk, writer, publicist.
Konstiantyn Sytnyk, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences, biology, honorary head of M. Holodnyi Institute of Botanic of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Sirenko, national actor of Ukraine, leading conductor and art director of the National Academic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.
Taras Stets’kiv, deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.
Volodymyr Filenko, deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.
Ihor Yukhnovs’kyi, Hero of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences (Physics and Mathematics), head of the Ukrainian Committee of Sciences and Culture of the National Academy of Ukraine.
Taras Vozniak, philosopher, political observer, editor-in-chief of the independent magazine “Ї.”
Oleksii Volovych, head of the Odessa branch of the National Institute of Strategic Research by the Office of the President of Ukraine.
Rustem Zhanzhoga, political observer, leading researcher of the Institute of World’s Economy and International Relationships of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, member of PEN-club.
Oleksander Filts, MdS, professor, president of the Ukrainian Psychiatrist Association.
Ihor Markov, political observer, head of the section of the ethno-social research of the Institute of Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Oleksandr Ivankiv, first vice-president of the Institute of Ukrainian National Memory.
Ihor Koliushko, head of the Center of Political and Judicial Reforms.
Ilko Kucheriv, Director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation.