AUR#878 Oct 13 Sharing Powers; Post-Election Govt; Rotten Apples; Kyiv Landmarks; Holocaust; UPA Soldiers; Holodomor March; Armenian Genocide; Florida

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Associated Press (AP), Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Oct 12 2007

Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

By Andriy Kalynovskiy,  Kyiv Weekly, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, Oct 11, 2007

Commentary: By Transitions Online (TOL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, 5 October 2007

Analysis: Petro Rivniy, Kyiv Weekly, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, Oct 11, 2007

News Analysis: By Ilana Bet-El
Academic, author and policy adviser based in Brussels
EIU Politics, The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited
New York, New York, Thursday, October 11, 2007

ANALYSIS: By Andriy Petrovskiy, Kyiv Weekly, Thu, October 11, 2007


Scholars are demanding that Kyiv officials ban construction on
the territory of the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life
By Inna Biriukova, The Day Weekly Digest, #29
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Kyiv City Council drafts program to restore historical and cultural sites
By Inna Biriukova, The Day Weekly Digest #28
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Viddzerkalennia show at PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv marks
one of this year’s most noteworthy cultural events
By Dmytro Desiateryk, The Day Weekly Digest #29
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Over four years, the Rev. Patrick Desbois and his group have
identified more than 600 common graves of Jews in Ukraine.
By Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times
New York, New York, Saturday, October 6, 2007

By Omer Bartov, Professor of History, Brown University, Israel, Friday, October 12, 2007


Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

National March of Remembrance
National Committee to Commemorate the

75th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933
New York/Washington, Friday, October 12, 2007   


Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, October 4, 2007


Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, October 11, 2007

UNIAN News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 5, 2007

Letter-to-the-Editor: From Steve Komarnyckyj, UK
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #878, Article 20
Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2007

Genocide Label for WWI-Era Killings Has House Support
By Glenn Kessler, Staff Writer, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, October 10, 2007; Page A01
“Genocide is genocide, and there’s no way of sugarcoating it” Rep. Engel
By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Thursday, October 11, 2007; Page A02
The Armenian ambassador to Britain on why he believes, nearly
a century on, Turkey should admit to a genocide
Commentary: by Vahe Gabrielyan
Armenia’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s
New Statesman, London, UK, Friday, October 12, 2007
The Associated Press, Yerevan, Armenia, Friday, October 12, 2007
Commentary: by D. Parvaz, P-I Columnist
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Washington, Fri, Oct 12, 2007
The Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, October 11, 2007
Laura Wides-Munoz, Associated Press, Miami, Florida, Tue, Oct 9, 2007
Nine young Ukrainians came to Florida for prostheses — all donated.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. came from Washington to thank
the American people and the Cuban community in Miami for their help.
By Luisa Yanez, Miami Herald, Miami, Florida, Tue, Oct. 09, 2007

Associated Press (AP), Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Oct 12 2007

KYIV  – Yulia Tymoshenko, the top contender for the post of prime minister
in Ukraine after parliamentary elections, vowed Friday to cede some Cabinet
powers to President Viktor Yushchenko if she gets the job.

The pro-Western parties of Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, the central figures

in the 2004 Orange Revolution that ushered Yushchenko to power, together
received a slim majority in the Sept. 30 vote and have enough parliament
seats to form a governing coalition.

Tymoshenko said the two groups have agreed to let Yushchenko name the
interior minister, Ukraine’s top police official – a power now held by the
Cabinet – and give him more leverage over other Cabinet and regional

“I think what we need now is not to engage in a fight for portfolios but to
firmly show the capability of the democratic coalition to be formed and
formed quickly,” Tymoshenko told reporters.

She also warned her rival, the more Russia-friendly Prime Minister Viktor
Yanukovych, who garnered the biggest share of votes, against seeking to

have the election results invalidated and boycotting parliament sessions, as
representatives of his party have said they might.

Tymoshenko’s and Yushchenko’s forces have offered to grant Yanukovych’s
party deputy ministerial posts in all Cabinet ministries as well as the
position of deputy prime minister and chairs of some key committees in

Yanukovych’s party has given mixed signals about whether it would accept

the offer and threatened to render the legislature illegitimate by having
one-third of parliament members stay away from sessions.

Tymoshenko vowed the parliament would be able to operate even with
Yanukovych’s seats empty. “The Party of Regions’ demarche to ruin stability
in Ukraine … today won’t be in line with the Constitution,” Tymoshenko
said.  “The Verkhovna Rada will work as it is,” she said, referring to the
450-seat parliament.

Ukrainian politics have been riven by a power struggle between Yushchenko
and Yanukovych since the tumultuous 2004 presidential race. Yanukovych

was initially declared the winner, but the results were later overturned by
courts and Yushchenko won a revote.

Yanukovych capitalized on widespread disillusionment in the slow pace of
reform and returned as premier in 2006. The two leaders’ bitter political
standoff earlier this year led Yushchenko to call an early vote.


[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

KYIV – Ukraine drew closer to forming a post-election coalition and
government on Friday, with former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko saying

she was ready to send an “orange” coalition for approval to the president at
the weekend.

President Viktor Yushchenko, reconciled with Tymoshenko after a period of
estrangement, said preparations for forming the coalition were at a
“preparatory” phase. But he hoped Ukraine would be able to complete the
process quickly.

Groups linked to the “Orange Revolution” that swept the president to power
in 2004 won a tiny majority in last month’s poll. But the party of
Yushchenko’s longstanding rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, remains
the largest single group.

Tymoshenko said her bloc and the president’s Our Ukraine party had nearly
completed work on a coalition agreement.

“There is not a single contradiction over the content of the coalition
agreement. Tomorrow we will hand the president an agreement bearing our
initials,” she told a news conference.

She said the agreement would be formally approved after the proclamation of
official results next week.

The two “orange” parties have a combined tally of 228 seats — two more than
needed to pass most votes in the 450-member chamber. Yanukovich’s Regions
Party, together with its communist allies, hold 202 and he said this week
said he was prepared to go into opposition if he were not kept on as prime

Yushchenko, shown on television visiting Slovakia, said it was clear only
the “orange” parties, possibly joined by others, were able to form a

“I hope I will get these (documents) tomorrow morning. And I’m certain that
next week we will complete the main issues of formally declaring the
results, forming a coalition and proposing candidates for prime minister,”
he said.

He expressed optimism there would be no repeat of the “interminable
competitions” in last year’s four-month post-election delay in forming a

Yushchenko backed an “orange” government in the campaign, to be led by
Tymoshenko, his ally during the 2004 upheavals and his first prime minister,
though he fired her eight months later.

But last week, he said Tymoshenko could become premier again only if a
political deal was reached with the Regions Party. Neither politician mentioned

such a deal on Friday.

Tymoshenko said her bloc had agreed to other demands issued by the
president — control over all branches of the security forces and the repeal
of a law curbing presidential powers.

She said the opposition would secure “considerable powers” and top jobs —

a deputy prime minister and a deputy speaker.
Yushchenko on Monday summoned all parties that won seats and gave them
until the end of the week to produce a blueprint for a working coalition.

Yanukovich backs the creation of a “broad coalition” bringing together his
Regions Party and Our Ukraine, touted by some analysts as a way of bridging
the longstanding gap between Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east and the
nationalist west.

Yushchenko defeated Yanukovich in the re-run of a rigged 2004 election in
the aftermath of weeks of “orange” rallies.

But Yanukovich made a comeback last year and became prime minister after
“orange” groups proved unable to form a government. He has since chipped
away at Yushchenko’s powers.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Andriy Kalynovskiy,  Kyiv Weekly, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, Oct 11, 2007

Traditionally, the Ukrainian economy tends to have very positive indicators
at the peak of political chaos and uncertainty. The process of forming a new
government will not have a negative impact on the country’s macroeconomic
indicators registered in September.

However, the reaction of financial markets is the confirmation that the
national economy has responded to the results of the snap parliamentary
elections rather positively.

Immediately after the election returns were made public, the PFTS index grew
3.17%. Practically all liquid shares traded on the exchange grew in price.
Among blue chip stocks, the securities of Arcelor Mittal Kriviy Rih
demonstrated the most significant growth at 8.23% in one trading session.

The price of shares of the energy generating companies ZakhidEnergo,
DniproEnergo, DonbassEnergo, KyivEnergo, TsentEnergo grew 6% on

average, while UkrNafta securities grew 4.75%.

Similar trends were observed in the second and third tiers of shares. The
growth in the value of shares of certain companies reached 10% in a matter
of one trading day. Starting from October 2, the country’s main stock
exchange has displayed stable growth.

Noteworthy is that the shares of companies owned by proponents of the
“orange” political camp are not the only ones experiencing an increase in
value. Indeed, the value of shares of owners siding with the potential
opposition is also on the rise. Here, the only exception is Mariupol Illich
Steelworks since its representatives failed to win a seat in the parliament.

Experts name several factors that had a positive impact on the stock market.

[1] Firstly, the companies owned by representatives of the orange forces in
all sectors of the economy became the driving force behind the growth of the
PFTS. In any political situation, these companies, in particular UkrNafta,
Arcelor Mittal Kryviy Rih, Poltava Ore Enrichment Plant and others, will
enjoy special favorable terms.

[2] Secondly, those companies in which the state is one of the shareholders
are rapidly growing. This can be attributed to investors’ hopes that the
“orange government” will reinstate the practice of holding open tenders for
the sale of state-owned properties.

[3] Thirdly, the value of shares of companies that could potentially be
re-privatized by the new government has also risen. Fourthly, the cross
industry share of the energy sector has grown in response to expectations of
liberalization and privatization in the event that Yulia Tymoshenko comes to

The threats made by Gasprom to reduce supplies of gas to Ukraine if the
latter does not pay off its debts placated the optimistic moods on the PFTS
at the end of the week.

Quite telling is that UN experts presented a report including Ukraine on the
list of 20 most investment attractive countries and the Moody’s credit
rating agency complimented Kyiv for its reliable and stable banking system
immediately following the elections.

Positive investment moods can also be attributed to the fact that the
parliamentary elections in Ukraine were relatively calm and democratic.

Moreover, the most influential political forces in the country announced
that they were ready to work in the opposition and will not destabilize the
situation. The fact that Ukraine is capable of settling acute political
confrontations through civilized dialog partially calmed down domestic and
foreign investors that were withdrawing their capital on the eve of the

Thus, players on the stock market reacted positively to the results of the
parliamentary elections, which showed the readiness of investors to continue
investing their money into Ukraine’s economy.

At the same time, the currency market to a certain degree spoiled this
situation. At the close of trading last week, the rate of the U.S. dollar
rate reach its highest level in the past 8 months on the Ukrainian interbank
exchange at 5.065/US $1.

Some experts explain this record leap by the shortage of U.S. dollar supply
on the domestic market and predict that this could grow into a global trend
of foreign currency shortage.

In their opinion, the situation on the currency exchange is aggravated by
the uncertainty in the formation of a parliamentary coalition and could lead
to a rise in interest rates on bank loans in U.S. dollars.

A representative of one of the banks close to the Party of Regions said that
if Yulia Tymoshenko becomes the next premier, investments into the country
will see a notable decrease, adding that the threat of a decrease in
currency coming into the country forces people to hoard dollars.

Other experts, however, say that such an increase cannot be rationally
substantiated, arguing that this is merely a seasonal trend associated with
the fact that the Naftogas Ukrainy joint stock company is buying currency
for the purchase of natural gas for the upcoming winter.

In addition to that, Ukrainian companies are currently signing agreements on
supplies with foreign partners for next year and are actively buying up U.S.
dollars on the interbank exchange.

By the way, experts say that banks currently face the problem of excess
currency liquidity. Contrary to seasonal trends, a drop in interest rates on
loans in foreign currency is being observed, thus confirming the
aforementioned argument.

Summing it all up, attributing the growth in the dollar to Tymoshenko
possibly becoming the next premier is questionable, seeing as she is a
long-time proponent of hrynia revaluation.

Whatever the case may be, the snap elections have had quite a positive
impact on the Ukrainian economy and demonstrated that it is not that
important who comes to power, but how they get there.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

COMMENTARY: By Transitions Online (TOL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, 5 October 2007

They say democracy is the worst political system except for all the others.
Just look at Ukraine these days.

It could take months before the full implications of Ukraine’s parliamentary
elections are fully known. Despite a slim majority for the pro-Western
“Orange” parties in the 30 September balloting, President Viktor Yushchenko
took many by surprise this week by urging cooperation with his bitter rival
and the biggest vote-getter, the Party of Regions.

The notion of a grand coalition could set the stage for acrimonious,
drawn-out discussions that lead to national consensus (unlikely) or nowhere
(more likely).

Nevertheless, a range of conclusions can already be drawn. This election
was free and fair, Ukraine’s third such election in three years – an
admirable feat for any country in the former Soviet bloc. A wide variety of

parties campaigned fiercely and openly, covered by a pluralistic media and
largely unhindered by state interference.

Accusations of vote-rigging were again habitual rather than substantiated in
most cases, as the close similarity of the actual results with exit poll
figures demonstrates.

That achievement deserves to be put into perspective. Only three years
ago, Ukraine was ruled by an autocratic clan that intimidated political
opponents, crushed media independence, made illegal deals with rogue
states, massively rigged elections, and brutally killed at least one

Today political opponents opt to resolve their disputes through dialogue and
the ballot box, as opposed to brute force. They have equal access to the
media, and civic activists do not face repression, no matter their
On the downside, the election did nothing to turn back the low regard for
the political elite, in sharp decline almost since that very Orange
Revolution that made all of this possible.

A strong feeling resonates across society that no trustworthy and
professional political force exists in the country, and people try to choose
a lesser evil from among the old players, or simply vote out of habit and
“tribal” loyalties.

A telling poster on the streets of Kyiv depicts the country’s top politicians –

Yushchenko, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and current
premier Viktor Yanukovych – still going through the motions of an election
in their old age. That’s a far cry from the passion so palpable during the
events in the winter of 2004-2005.

A large part of that disregard stems from the naked power struggle among
the leading actors, and between institutions, a prevailing feature of
Ukrainian politics that a mere election could not solve.

Politicians have had a hard time adjusting to the 2004 changes to the
constitution, which strengthened the powers of the prime minister and
government and removed key functions from the president (such as the
authority to appoint and dismiss members of government without
parliamentary approval).

Those changes, however, still left the president considerable power,
creating a “dual executive.” Many feel that further constitutional
amendments are needed to either scrap that European novelty or clarify
it, creating a more efficient system of checks and balances.

In the meantime, the country’s top leaders have run roughshod over the
concept of separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and
judicial branches.

Cherry-picking legislation they like and ignoring parts they don’t, they
have acted as if they can unilaterally determine whether a law or decree is
unconstitutional – without waiting or even turning to the courts for their

Or, as Yushchenko did last spring, firing Constitutional Court justices as
the court was debating his decree to disband parliament and call early
elections. And disrespect for the rule of law has not been a trait confined
to one of the country’s leaders or one political persuasion.
Unfortunately, the relevant institutions are, for the most part, currently
unable to withstand the onslaught of the political power-grabbers.

While the Central Election Commission (CEC) performed relatively well
during the vote-counting, at one point the CEC tried to refuse to register
the party list of Tymoshenko’s bloc, probably out of a misguided effort to
please the president (the commission chairman is a Yushchenko confidant).

The reputation of the judiciary took a serious blow during the long court
battles over the decision to hold this early election. And corruption
remains endemic.

So where from here? If the politicians continue to ignore the rule of law
and refuse to respect the separation of powers, is real progress on the road
to Europe possible?

Can one realistically expect the institutions to force the politicians to
behave or will it only happen when some enlightened leaders dare to create
institutions that would, yes, improve the state of Ukrainian democracy, but
also hinder their own powers?

This chicken-and-egg conundrum, long a topic in academic quarters, could
still have a happy ending, though one that could take a generation.

Given the current state of the political elite – and the unlikelihood of
consensus among the major players – change from the top is probably a pipe
dream. But a well-spring from below could still happen again, as it did
three years ago when grassroots activists joined forces with risk-taking

Ukraine has one of the most vibrant civil societies in the region – more
active than some of its Central European neighbors – and there are signs
everywhere that people are learning to stand up for themselves: pickets that
have stopped intrusive construction of new buildings, demonstrators
protesting the construction of new highways, groups publicizing information
showing corruption among the high-and-mighty.

The Orange Revolution taught many of them to be bold, but it also created
expectations yet to be fulfilled but very much still alive.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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ANALYSIS: Petro Rivniy, Kyiv Weekly, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, Oct 11, 2007

Yushchenko laid his cards on the table when he called the Party of Regions
and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc to form a broader coalition. There are no
doubts today that the president’s main objective in sacking the parliament
six months ago was to remove his main competitors Yanukovych and

Tymoshenko from competing for the presidential post in 2009.

After the president’s initiative to create a so-called “broad” coalition,
the presidential bloc OU-PSD won the “golden parliamentary share”, without
which it is impossible to form a majority in the Verkhovna Rada and appoint
a new government.

By giving away votes in favor of his bloc in exchange for a coalition in its
desired form the president is offering contenders a tough choice: refusal
from running in the next presidential election or Constitutional reform.
How did the president, whose popularity took a nosedive at the beginning of
the year and who was practically stripped of his levers of control over the
government after the adoption of the Law On the Cabinet of Ministers, manage
to achieve this?

One of the guarantees of Yushchenko’s success in 2007 was organizing the
work of the presidential secretariat. In the position of the head of the
secretariat Viktor Baloha proved to be an aggressive, yet effective manager.

As a negotiator he held talks with Yushchenko’s so-called “dear friends”
like Yulia Tymoshenko and Rinat Akhmetov on the same level.

The head of the secretariat also played the role of a lightning rod in
relations between Yushchenko, Premier Viktor Yanukovych and Speaker

of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Moroz.

To be sure, all potentially conflicting statements were made on behalf of
the head of the secretariat, thus affording the president the opportunity to
maneuver in future negotiations.

Considerable strengthening of the legal constituent was another factor in
the edge of the president’s over the government.

A number of practicing lawyers with extensive experience in court
proceedings trials concerning hostile takeovers of attractive state-run
companies reinforced the academic constituent of the law department that
supports the president’s activity.

Their specific experience was later used in vigorous court confrontations
with the executive branch of power.

In addition to that, Stepan Havrysh was appointed a judge of the
Constitutional Court by virtue of the president’s quota. Recall that in 2004
Havrysh was the coordinator of the pro-Kuchma majority in the parliament

and represented the interests of Viktor Yanukovych in the Central Election

Maryna Stavniychuk, former deputy head of the CEC, was appointed the

deputy chair of the Presidential Secretariat and a representative of the president
in the CEC and the Constitutional Court.

In 2004 she signed a protocol declaring Yanukovych the winner of the second
round of the presidential elections. In short, President Yushchenko showed
his readiness to forgive the old “sins” of those ready to offer him their
intellectual and creative abilities to gain an edge over political rivals.
The president’s authority over the court system gives him a major edge over
his rivals. The power to appoint and dismiss judges as heads and deputy
heads of courts and appoint them to new positions made Yushchenko a

powerful center of influence on the judiciary.

The dismissal of three judges appointed to the Constitutional Court by the
presidential quota of former president Leonid Kuchma was the height of
achievements of the presidential team in the sphere of justice.

Valeriy Pshenychniy and Volodymyr Ivanenko quit on their own volition and
Suzanna Stanik was dismissed for breaking her oath. By relying on
tried-and-true employees and having the third branch of power as an ally,
Yushchenko has once again become a force capable of opposing the combined
powers of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Verkhovna Rada.

Whatever the case, it must be recognized that the failed attempt of the law
enforcement bodies to seize the Prosecutor General’s Office played the
decisive role in forcing Yanukovych, Akhmetov and Moroz to run in the snap

It was precisely at this moment that Yushchenko demonstrated his complete
control over the country’s “iron fist”, namely the armed forces, the SBU and
such elite forces as Alpha, central intelligence and the president’s secret

As it turned out, the balance of forces did not inure to the benefit of the
anti-crisis coalition, which controlled only a part of the Ministry of
Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

It is worth giving credit to the president: even during the tenure of former
president Kuchma the law enforcement bodies did not play such a role in
Ukrainian politics. In short, this proves that Ukraine’s law enforcement
bodies have undergone a bona fide “renaissance”.

Indeed, they are no longer considered “cannon fodder” that simply executes
the orders of the president. On the contrary, their point of view is now
taken into consideration and they advise on the most important issues the
country faces.

Today, the key functionaries in the law enforcement bodies earn more money,
receive more rewards and climb the career ladder faster. In addition to
that, the heads of the SBU, the army and the intelligence service are
members of the National Security and Defense Council.

President Yushchenko does not deny the fact that stability in the country
and his own political well-being depend on the loyalty of these forces.

In every key statement made during the political crisis the president
stressed that he has the authority to not allow the “usurpation of power”.
In the eyes of the law enforcement bodies such an appeal enhances their
status and serves as an additional factor of loyalty to the president.
Finally, constitutional reform is to be the last pillar for the president
regaining his previous position of power. The patriarch of Ukrainian
science, academician and politician Ihor Yukhnovskiy made a statement to

the press informing that the Presidential Secretariat began working on a new
draft of the Constitution to renew a presidential republic in Ukraine as
soon as the political crisis flared up.

Yukhnovskiy said that the new parliament should function for only two more
years by which time the new Constitution is drafted and approved in a
nationwide Ukrainian referendum. After that the presidential and
parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously in 2010.

Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko are ready to agree to increase the plenary
powers of the president as they both harbor plans of winning in the next

Clearly, Yushchenko can propose them this initiative in the process of
drafting the Constitution in exchange for turning down the post of premier,
which would be given to some little known technocrat. In this way the
president will drag in his main rivals into an enticing, yet extremely risky
game.         LINK:

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Academic, author and policy adviser based in Brussels
EIU Politics, The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited
New York, New York, Thursday, October 11, 2007

“Why does the Western media report only on the oligarchs and not the

common people in Ukraine? If they did they would explain to the world
the enormous corruption in our country.”

Such was the contention – or rather, angry query – put to me by a fiery
young journalist in Kiev last week, in an abrupt break from explaining the
30 September election and its possible outcomes.

He was far from being the only one, in both explanations and demands – which
is not surprising: corruption is the issue that most interests Ukrainians.

Regardless of the subject of discussion, or the profession and rank of the
discussants, everything always leads back to the cloud of corruption. And
not merely as a political issue or one of theory or morality.

It appears to have touched the lives of many average Ukrainians in one way
or another – from the need to bribe an official in order to receive state
services, to being bombarded by apparently lucrative promises from
politicians in return for votes.

Since these solemn offers then often fail to materialise, elections are
actually deemed by many to be a sort of double corruption: a dubious,
probably illegal offer to start with, that is then reneged on once power has
been achieved and the average citizen can once more be ignored.

In such examples of daily life, the issue can be understood as the type of
corruption seen in Nikolai Gogol’s ‘Government Inspector’, in which
officials are many and petty and wield disproportionate power but are part
of the very fabric of society.

It can be understood as the modern manifestation of this approach, which
Aigars Stokenbergs, a Latvian politician, recently defined as a
“kleptocratic, post-Soviet model”.

Stokenbergs’ comment is important here, not least because he was talking
about Latvia, which as a member of the EU should now be a model of probity.
His insight therefore suggests that Ukraine is not unique in its problems,
but rather the latest to suffer the pains of removing the vestiges of
lengthy Soviet rule.

But then again, maybe not. No former Soviet asset in Europe is so large and
so naturally endowed with natural assets – which leads to the oligarchs, who
put the Ukraine in a class of its own.

This group of people appears to be viewed by many Ukrainians with a mixture
of revulsion and fascination. They wield so much power, so blatantly, and
therefore so unpleasantly and so politically that they probably cannot but
be viewed in such a light. The common assumption seems to be that behind
every political party, including the ‘good’ ones, there is a resident
oligarch with specific interests.

The good news is that on the whole this extremely small group of
power-brokers appear to have decided that the pro-western approach is
marginally better – both lucratively and as an inevitability – than a purely
and defiantly pro-Russian one. The bad news is that they are still there and
have no intention of leaving or having their assets diminished.

Since oligarch-watching now seems to be a near national sport, their
existence is probably not the worst of it for Ukrainians. What really hurts
the average citizen – which is at the core of the feeling of deprivation –
is the asset- stripping. Even for a post-Soviet Gogolesque society, it is
simply too large. It is corruption gone mad, and nobody seems to care – or
do they?

Regardless of western attitudes, which to be fair in the case of the EU is
far from simply accommodating to corruption, there has been a massive

change in the Ukraine.

While three elections in as many years may suggest instability and an
inability to change deeply ingrained political attitudes, it may equally
reflect precisely the opposite – a massive shock to the system that is
bearing fruit.

If the change was not working, the old power brokers would have managed
simply to take it over and make it their own. They have clearly tried and
are trying, and therein lies the achievement.

They have not succeeded and the longer they are staved off, the greater the
chances of their ultimate failure since the new modes will take ever deeper

The trick will be to entwine these roots with trust, within the political
system and between politicians and citizens – for it is only with such trust
that corruption can begin to recede. And that is the true challenge for
Ukraine – and the EU.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

ANALYSIS: By Andriy Petrovskiy, Kyiv Weekly, Thu, October 11, 2007

The country’s top three politicians are putting together the pieces of
puzzles of different ruling coalitions keeping in mind that the current
government will bring one of these coalitions to the presidential post just
over two years from now.

One of them is not against resorting to more dismissals of the parliament or
blockading its work to reach the presidential seat.
President Yushchenko understands this better than anybody. This is precisely
why he “instructed” Yanukovych (leader of the Party of Regions), Tymoshenko
(YTB leader) and Yuriy Lutsenko and Vyacheslav Kyrylenko (leaders of the Our
Ukraine – People’s Self Defense bloc) to agree on the configuration of a
coalition that “would unite Ukraine”.

Political analysts have already pointed out that a broad coalition that
would simultaneously include the Party of Regions and both “orange forces”
is a highly preposterous alternative from the vantage point of voters’
preferences and the opposition between the teams of the parties at hand.

Nevertheless, such a version of a parliamentary-governmental alliance with
the appointment of a “neutral” premier (Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Viktor Baloha or
Arseniy Yatsenyuk) is likely the only way in which Yushchenko can fulfill
the majority of his promises in order to be re-elected in the 2009

All other scenarios in which OU-PSD forms a coalition with either YTB or the
Party of Regions essentially mean that the president will simply have to
choose his successor.

Meanwhile, Tymoshenko clearly understands that the fight for power with the
president within the framework of the “democratic coalition” could lead to
the repetition of the recent farcical story: namely, another sacking of her
government and the triumphant return of Yanukovych. Should this happen, any
last hopes of Tymoshenko winning the presidential elections in 2009 will be

This is precisely why she needs to keep the peace with Yushchenko. By
extension, this means that the leader of YTB needs a loyal and predictable
person in the position of the presidential secretariat that would prevent
any attempts of Yushchenko “violating previous agreements”.

Furthermore, it is critical for YTB that it regains its influence over the
State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Prosecutor’s General Office
(PGO). As a last resort, the PGO can be shared equally with the
Lutsenko-Kyrylenko group. Only this can afford Tymoshenko the possibility

of any hopes for capitulation of the oligarchs and a political defeat for

Yanukovych feels the sharp threat of potentially being left outside the ring
of power as a result of agreements between YTB and OU-PSD.

It cannot be ruled out that the current premier will be ready to give up the
“hot seat” of the premier for the more relaxed position of VR speaker.

For him, however, this would mean losing control of the economic levers of
influence and will make him more dependent on Rinat Akhmetov – Ukraine’s
richest man and one of the leaders of the Party of Regions.
As a result of the elections the so-called “grey cardinals” – Presidential
Chief-of-Staff Viktor Baloha and Akhmetov, who is the owner of the
“controlling share package” in the Party of Regions, have found themselves
in the most precarious situation.

They were absolutely convinced that the ‘regionals’ together with the
Communists would together win a slight edge in the parliament with 226-230

If the Communists are discarded and half of the OU-PSD faction votes
simultaneously with the Party of Regions, this would create a stable
majority of 240-250 votes, while together with the Communists and Lytvyn,
the majority would be almost constitutional.

Naturally, there is no strict legal procedure for only half of the
pro-presidential deputies joining the coalition. This “fault” could have
been easily compensated by the fact that the president has the right, but
not the obligation, to sack the parliament if the coalition is formed or if
it falls apart.

Then, if the legitimate number of OU-PSD representatives is miraculously
incorporated into the government of the Party of Regions, the Verkhovna Rada
would be able to function up until the moment that Yushchenko gets sick and
tired of it.

Be that as it may, both the Party of Regions and OU-PSD gained much fewer
votes than they had expected. Now Baloha and Akhmetov will have to fight for
maintaining their influence over their own parties.

The alarming signal in the orange camp was the letter of 40 candidates to
deputies from OU-PSD about their unwillingness to form a coalition with the

On the other hand, the position of Rinat Akhmetov is being shaken by the
radicals inside Yanukovych’s entourage, who propose to not take the deputy
oath and thereby paralyze the work of the newly elected parliament in order
to extend the functioning of Yanukovych’s government for an undetermined
period of time.

The “grey cardinals” are considering a number of ways of regaining control
over the situation. The main one is blocking the process of formation of the
coalition and rendering the appointment of the government within 30 days

In essence this means that after this happens the president will have the
constitutional grounds to dismiss the newly elected VR, which in turn will
force Yanukovych to sacrifice his premier’s ambitions, naturally with a
little bit “help from his friends” in Baloha and Akhmetov.

Meanwhile, the elected neutral premier and the government will be guided by
both politicians on behalf of the president.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
Scholars are demanding that Kyiv officials ban construction on
the territory of the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life

By Inna BIRIUKOVA, The Day Weekly Digest, #29
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 9 October 2007

“Mayor Chernovetsky, history will not forgive you the defacement of the
Museum of Folk Architecture and Life in Pyrohove!,” “No to gambling in the
historical land!,” “Yes to the museum! No to casinos!”

These slogans were brought to the Kyiv city council’s building last week by
the employees of the museum, scholars from the National Academy of Sciences
and Rylsky Institute of Art Criticism, Folklore, and Ethnology, and other
people who are worried about how Ukrainian cultural heritage is going to be

The picketers demanded that Kyiv’s top officials cancel the resolution of
the Kyiv City Council allowing the construction of a hotel and entertainment
complex and a horse-racing and sports club on nearly 10 hectars of the
museum’s territory.

“In October 2006 the Kyiv City Council passed a resolution to rent to
Ukrinvestbud, a research and production limited company, nearly 10 hectars
of land for 25 years for this purpose,” says Oleksii Dolia, Deputy Director
of the museum. “When our employees and scholars picketed the council, the
resolution was scrapped.

The council’s deputies lent an ear to our demands and repealed their
resolution. However, our joy was short-lived: in May 2007 the Kyiv City
Council returned to this issue and cancelled its last resolution, thus
permitting construction on the museum’s territory.

Witnesses told me that the council’s secretary Oleksii Dovhyi put this
question to vote twice during a single session. At 12:30pm the councilmen
voted against but two minutes later the developer got the go-ahead to use
our land.”

Dolia explained that the object of the dispute is the land in front of the
entrance to the museum. In their quest for justice, the employees of the
museum turned to President Viktor Yushchenko and the Kyiv prosecutor’s

The president reacted by Edict No. 553/2007 on taking measures to stop
unlawful use of the museum’s land and even ordered that a way to expand its
area be found. The prosecutor’s office, in its turn, issued a protest
against the resolution of the Kyiv City Council.

Borys Paton, President of the National Academy of Sciences, also filed a
protest to the council and pointed out that any construction in the
protected area of the museum, as approved by the Ministry of Culture, is
unacceptable. However, this time the councilmen were deaf to the voice of
scholars and community.

“We are not going to give up and, in addition to all kinds of appeals to top
officials, we have filed a lawsuit. The court will consider it shortly,”
said Dolia.

“I believe we will succeed in asserting our rights because this is our land.
We will not let anyone abuse the values cherished by the Ukrainian people.
Furthermore, we have secured the president’s support,” said Natalia
Orobchenko of the Rylsky Institute of Art Criticism, Folklore, and

Leonid Shurko, an associate professor at the Department of Culture Studies
in the Institute of Philosophy, Shevchenko Kyiv National University, also
came to the council’s building to support the picketers.

“The professors and students of our university are against construction in
historical lands. If the city council continues to pursue its current
policy, Kyiv may soon turn into one grand casino. What kind of heritage will
we leave for the next generations?”

To make themselves heard, the protesters sang Ukrainian songs and recited
poems under the windows of the officials’ offices. “Let us say again to the
city council- hands off Pyrohove!,” they chanted. We don’t know whether
Kyiv’s councilmen heard them, but no one from the council came out to the
By Volodyyr BONDARENKO, a councilmen of the Kyiv City council:
“In the case of construction on the territory of the Pyrohove museum,
scholars gave me a petition addressed to the Kyiv City Council and signed by
three thousand people. \

“Ethnic centers like Pyrohove are found in all countries of the world. For
example, in Germany tens of thousands of people live in settlements built
after the medieval pattern. However, this petition did not change the
opinion of those councilmen who had voted for construction.

“The resolution was passed due the efforts of the so-called majority
comprised of the councilmen from the Leonid Chernovetsky’s bloc and some
councilmen representing Our Ukraine. It is a known fact that councilmen’s
votes are being bought. The prosecutor issued a protest against this
resolution but the council’s secretary Oles Dovhyi did not put it on the

“The prosecutor’s protests which are at variance with the interests of the
pro-Chernovetsky majority are, as a rule, either passed over, or rejected.

In addition to Pyrohove, the Kyiv City Council is soon going to engage in
the deryban (misappropriation) of the protected lands in Feofania. In my
opinion, the situation with the distribution of land can be changed only if
we change the Kyiv City Council.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Kyiv City Council drafts program to restore historical and cultural sites

By Inna BIRIUKOVA, The Day Weekly Digest #28
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The European soccer championships in Kyiv are slightly more than four
years away. But the city residents, witnessing the construction boom in the
historic sector of the capital, are already starting to wonder if Kyiv
landmarks will survive until the start of this major sports event, given the
local authorities’ love for the precious real estate of our capital city.

Almost every day residents get a surprise from the “Mayor of all Kyivites,”
Leonid Chernovetsky, and his team.

Even the area of the historical preserve, Zhukov Island, has shrunk beyond
all imaginable limits, and the city fathers have their eye on Andriivsky
uzviz and are quietly zeroing in on the Museum of Architecture and Daily
Life in Pyrohove.

Despite Kyiv City Council’s construction ambitions, Ruslan Kukharenko, head
of the directorate for the protection of cultural heritage at the Kyiv City
State Administration (KMDA), has given optimistic assurances that Kyiv
landmarks will not only be standing by Euro-2012, but will greet our guests
in the full splendor of complete restoration.

In conjunction with the soccer championships, Kyiv City Hall has now drafted
a branch program to restore various historical and cultural monuments.

According to Kukharenko, the restoration works will embrace 11 projects,
including the historical preserve Kyiv Hagia Sophia (the Golden Gate
pavilion, Zaborovsky Gate, St. Andrew’s Church), St. Nicholas’s Cathedral on
the grounds of the Holy Protection Monastery, the Church of St. Mykola
Naberezhny, the Pechersk Gate, the statue of St. Michael the Archistrategos,
the monument to Ukrainian Independence (construction of a fountain and
sculptural elements), the Hlobus Mall on Independence Square (the famous
Maidan), St. Demetrius’s Church (Kostiantyn and Olena), St. Alexander’s
Cathedral, the Karaim kenasa (temple), St. Michael’s Church at Vydubychi
Monastery, and St. Nicholas’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.

The Mayor’s Office is paying special attention to the restoration of the old
City Hall building, the belfry of St. Cyril’s Monastery, the Church of
Christ’s Presentation at the Temple on Lvivska Ploshcha, the Church of the
Prophet Elijah near the railway station, the William Hastie Complex on
Kontraktova ploshcha, the Ivan Fountain on European Square, the belfry of
St. Nicholas’s Monastery on Glory Square, the fountain on Leo Tolstoy
Square, and the belfry of Holy Trinity Church at the Kytaiv Monastery.

The third part of the restoration program is entitled “Museums” and deals
with a 12th-century church whose remains were discovered at 3 Yurkivska
Street in 2003. Its name has not been identified yet, and the possibility to
place this site in the State Register of National Monuments is being

Kyiv’s number-one protector of the city’s cultural heritage is convinced
that what is left of the Church of the Tithes (the Dormition of the Mother
of God) is also of great interest to the international cultural community.

This was the first brick structure built in Kyivan Rus’ in 989-996. It was
destroyed in 1240 during an attack by a Mongol-Tatar horde. Today it is
listed in the register of local archaeological sites.

The Mayor’s Office plans to restore a total of more than 40 historical
monuments. “We have calculated that these works will cost 1,441,000,000
hryvnias. Part of this money will come from the city budget, and we are also
counting on investors.

However, the state must undertake the bulk of the financing. If the Cabinet
of Ministers gives us money, we’ll complete the work within two to four
years,” Kukharenko said.

When he was queried about the construction going on in the historic part of
Kyiv, Kukharenko pointed out that his directorate is often bypassed when
such issues are decided.

One can only hope that the election campaign will be over soon [the original
Ukrainian-language article was published on Sept. 25-trans.], and that
Ukraine’s high-ranking officials will finally start paying attention to what
is happening in Kyiv.

The situation has gotten to the point that artists, architects, and book
publishers – people who by virtue of their creative nature have never been
particularly interested in politics – have begun holding rallies.

They can no longer remain silent because the Ukrainian spirit and culture
are being threatened with destruction.
Yurii KHUDIAKOV, vice-president, National Union of Architects of
The restoration of historical and cultural monuments is a crucial issue,
especially since there is a resolution to this effect from the Cabinet of
Ministers of Ukraine.

However, restoration must be done with the utmost caution, so as not to
damage historical masterpieces that we have inherited from the very distant
past; so that what happened with the Liadski vorota (Polish Gate) on
Independence Square is not repeated.

This structure was in fact destroyed and what we now see on the capital’s
main square bears very little resemblance to the Liadski vorota. It would be
good if they also restored historical monuments (churches, monasteries) that
were demolished in the 1930s (1936 went down in history as the year of the
total destruction of historic architectural sites in Kyiv).

As regards Euro-2012, I believe that we don’t have a clear-cut city
development program. So far it’s mostly talk. Unfortunately, rather than
placing the emphasis on socially important and cultural projects, the
municipal authorities are focusing on building offices and housing.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Viddzerkalennia show at PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv marks one

of this year’s most noteworthy cultural events

By Dmytro DESIATERYK, The Day Weekly Digest #29
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The show at the PinchukArtCentre is this year’s most noteworthy event thanks
to the participation of such renowned Western artists as Jeff Koons (US),
Damien Hirst, and Antony Gormley (both from the UK). Their art pieces were
actually symbols of the entire show.

Naturally, Gormley’s creations were the first to attract visitors’
attention. His sculpture Reflection is displayed in front of a shop window:
two absolutely similar human bodies separated by glass are made out of
rusted cast iron. Outwardly, there is a complete illusion of reflection of
this strange metal phantom, but a closer look reveals certain distinctions.

Needless to say, his Blind Light created a sensation. Visitors were invited
to enter a room with transparent glass walls, filled with thick white steam.
They become instantly disoriented; viewers themselves turn into otherworldly
shadows. They feel dizzy, which is probably the effect the artist expects.

Right in front of the entrance stands a transparent human figure made of
what seems to be square-headed nails, but when seen from the proper angle,
the impression is that the visitors fill the empty space and, after stepping
out of the white cloud, they momentarily become the content.

Damien Hirst’s exercises are no less effective. This British artist is known
primarily for using animal carcasses in his installations. The most shocking
part of Viddzerkalennia is his The Cancer Chronicles: Jesus and His
Disciples, an entire exhibition hall packed with heads of bulls and cows
preserved in formaldehyde solution, and black canvases made of thousands

of dead flies fixed with tar.

In contrast, Ariel consists of seven large canvases covered with red paint,
and this time embedded not with flies but big blue tropical butterflies.

His other works have definite religious connotations: Resurrection is a
human skeleton crucified within two perpendicular glass planes, while Homage
to the Half-Truth shows a stuffed dove that seems to be suspended in midair
inside a large transparent box. Attitudes to this piece can vary, but the
impression it leaves is a strong one.

Another impressive work of art is Crossfire, by the American artist
Christian Marclay. You step into a dark hall and hear guns being cocked,
getting ready to open fire. Then you find yourself being shot at from four
screens at the same time.

Marclay’s selections of video and audio effects includes scenes from the
best action movies, including Matrix, Terminator, Pulp Fiction, The Good,
the Bad and the Ugly, and Bonnie and Clyde. So you are in for an
eight-minute video/audio session of nonstop, murderous crossfire. Your
emotions may vary from those of the victim to those of the tough man or mol
pulling the trigger.

Jeff Koons, who lives in New York City, is regarded as a master of actual
painting. His two big canvases, Landscape (Waterfall II) and Girl (Dots)
offer a clear concept of his combination of various styles, primarily easily
accessible pop art and a rather tough kind of abstractionism. Ready-made,
even photographed images are subjected to original attack by bright,
aggressive colors.

The postmodern art works of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami are
interesting. He uses stylized images of flowers and computer smilies to
produce cheerful, occasionally infantile, images like Flower Matango, a
four-dimensional structure that looks more like a psychedelic waterfall.

Getting back to skeletons, it may be said that Hirst does not hold a
monopoly here. Another skeleton was displayed by British artist Marc Quinn.
This time the human remains were made of patinated bronze.

The skeleton is in a praying position, on its knees, and the image is
entitled Waiting for Godot. Generally speaking, the penchant of modern
British artists for such overt naturalism rates a separate story; here the
artist’s frankness simply acquires stable anatomical coloration.

Naturally, there were photographs at the show. The photography section of
the exhibit was best represented by the German artist Andreas Gursky. He
builds his compositions by using his camera to capture a great many similar
moments against general backdrops, like isles scattered throughout the ocean
(e.g., James Bond Island III), crowds at a music festival (Loveparade), and
packed supermarket shelves (99 Cent II).

Viktor Pinchuk is especially proud of his work entitled Klitschko, which was
executed before one of Vitaly’s fights in 1999. It was ceremoniously
unveiled with the boxing brothers in attendance.

Ukrainian artists also took part in the Viddzerkalennia show. Serhii
Bratkov’s new ironical work Religious Procession (photo), Arsen Savadov’s

canvas Heart, Oleh Tistol’s The Southern Crimean Coast, and Vasyl Tsaholov’s
Swan Lake (an installation with video and ballet dancers wearing shahid belts)
looked great hanging next to the foreign artworks.

Contemporary art is controversial, perhaps one of the reasons why it keeps
being created. Trailblazing is never easy. One often has to resort to the
most unusual gestures. The Viddzerkalennia show makes such extraordinary
things understandable, thereby making further movement possible.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Over four years, the Rev. Patrick Desbois and his group have
identified more than 600 common graves of Jews in Ukraine.

By Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times
New York, New York, Saturday, October 6, 2007

PARIS, Oct. 5 – His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time,
terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the
bottom rung of the Nazi killing machine – as diggers of mass graves, cooks
who fed Nazi soldiers and seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from

the Jews before execution.

They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat,
nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking
them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing
their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves.

He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of the
1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead and buried throughout the country.

He is neither a historian nor an archaeologist, but a French Roman Catholic
priest. And his most powerful tools are his matter-of-fact style – and his
clerical collar.

The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of
the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the
1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much

of that history has gone untold.

Knocking on doors, unannounced, Father Desbois, 52, seeks to unlock the
memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by

one in church.

“At first, sometimes, people don’t believe I’m a priest,” said Father
Desbois in an interview this week. “I have to use simple words and listen to
these horrors – without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that
pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.”

Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with
witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of
Jews, most of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material
evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the “Holocaust of
bullets” as it is called.

Often his subjects ask Father Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if
to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who

were assigned to carry out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say
that is one reason he is so effective.

“If a Jewish taker-of-testimony comes, what would people think – that this
is someone coming to accuse,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for
Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial

Museum in Washington.

“When a priest comes, people open up. He brings to the subject a kind of
legitimacy, a sense that it’s O.K. to talk about the past. There’s
absolution through confession.”

Unlike in Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through
the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was
hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

“There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with
guns,” said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk
Foundation, Ukraine’s largest philanthropic organization. “That’s why Father
Desbois is so important.”

The foundation helped underwrite a conference on the subject at the Sorbonne
this week – the first to bring together Western and Ukrainian scholars – and
has begun contributing funds to Father Desbois’s project.

Some of the results of Father Desbois’s research – including video
interviews, wartime documents, photographs of newly uncovered mass graves,
rusty bullets and shell casings and personal possessions of the victims –
are on display for the first time at an exhibit at the Memorial of the Shoah
in the Marais district of Paris.

The exhibit shows, for example, images of the 15 mass graves of several
thousand Jews in a commune called Busk that Father Desbois and his team
discovered and began excavating after interviewing several witnesses.

Among hundreds of other items on display is a black-and-white photo from
1942 that shows a German police officer shooting naked Jewish women lying
in a ravine in the Rivne region.

Traveling with a team that includes two interpreters, a photographer, a
cameraman, a ballistics specialist, a mapping expert and a notetaker, Father
Desbois records all the stories on video, sometimes holding the microphone
himself, and asking questions in simple language and a flat tone.

In Buchach in 2005, Regina Skora told Father Desbois that as a young girl
she witnessed executions.

“Did the people know they were going to be killed?” Father Desbois asked
her. “Yes.”

“How did they react?” “They just walked, that’s all. If someone couldn’t

walk, they told him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the neck.”

Vera Filonok said she was 16 when she watched from the porch of her mud hut
in Konstantinovka in 1941 as thousands of Jews were shot, thrown into a pit
and set on fire. Those who were still alive writhed “like flies and worms,”
she said.

There are stories of how the Nazis drummed on empty buckets to avoid having
to listen to the screams of their victims, how Jewish women were made sex
slaves of the Nazis and then executed. One witness said that as a 6-year-old
he hid and watched as his best friend was shot to death.

Other witnesses described how the Nazis were allowed only one bullet to the
back per victim and that the Jews sometimes were buried alive. “One witness
told of how the pit moved for three days, how it breathed,” Father Desbois

Father Desbois became haunted by the history of the Nazis in Ukraine as a
child growing up on the family farm in the Bresse region of eastern France.

His paternal grandfather, who was deported to a prison camp for French
soldiers in Rava-Ruska, on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border, told the
family nothing about the experience. But he confessed to his relentlessly
curious grandson, “For us it was bad, for ‘others’ it was worse.”

There were other family links to the German occupation of France. One
maternal cousin who carried letters for French resisters perished in a Nazi
concentration camp. Father Desbois’s mother told him only recently that the
family hid dozens of resisters on the farm.

After teaching mathematics as a French government employee in West Africa
and working in Calcutta for three months with Mother Teresa, he joined the
priesthood. His secular family was horrified.

He started as a parish priest, studying Judaism and learning Hebrew during a
stint in Israel. He asked to work with Gypsies, ex-prisoners or Jews, and
was appointed as a bridge to France’s Jewish community.

It was on a tour with a group in 2002 that, visiting Rava-Ruska, he asked
the mayor where the Jews were buried. The mayor said he did not know.

“I knew that 10,000 Jews had been killed there, so it was impossible that he
didn’t know,” Father Desbois recalled.

The following year, a new mayor took the priest to a forest where about 100
villagers had gathered in a semicircle, waiting to tell their stories and to
help uncover the graves buried beneath their feet.

He met other mayors and parish priests who helped find more witnesses. In
2004, Father Desbois created Yahad-In Unum, an organization devoted to
Christian-Jewish understanding run from a tiny office in a working-class
neighborhood in northeastern Paris, backed and largely financed by a
Holocaust foundation in France and the Catholic Church.

To verify witnesses’ testimony, Father Desbois relies heavily on a huge
archive of Soviet-era documents housed in the Holocaust museum in
Washington, as well as German trial archives. He registers an execution or a
grave site only after obtaining three independent accounts from witnesses.

Only one-third of Ukrainian territory has been covered so far, and it will
take several more years to finish the research. A notice at the exit of the
Paris exhibit asks that any visitor with information about victims of Nazi
atrocities in Ukraine leave a note or send an e-mail message.

“People talk as if these things happened yesterday, as if 60 years didn’t
exist,” Father Desbois said. “Some ask, ‘Why are you coming so late?
We have been waiting for you.'”
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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By Omer Bartov, Professor of History, Brown University, Israel, Friday, October 12, 2007

Last week’s conference on the Holocaust in Ukraine marked a historical
watershed. Over two dozen scholars gathered in Paris to discuss the murder
of some 1.5 million Jews.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the participants. The conference’s
significance derived from the fact that the details of the Jewish genocide
in Ukraine are still relatively obscure.

Since the fall of the Communist regime, there has been only a very gradual
increase in research on what happened in hundreds of communities during
World War II.

But it was just as important that the meeting was co-hosted by the Sorbonne.
This indicated a formal recognition by France’s most prestigious university
of the Shoah’s historical significance.

Even more striking was the attendance of Father Patrick Desbois, who has
spent the last four years gathering hundreds of testimonies and excavating
hundreds of mass graves of Jews in Ukraine.

This unlikely combination of a French Roman Catholic priest searching for
evidence of local massacres of Jews in a largely Greek Catholic and Orthodox
land struck a powerful chord in the media and made a deep impression on
those who attended the conference. Finally, along with participants from the
United States, Europe and Israel, the meeting also included several
Ukrainian scholars.

If anyone is capable of turning the massacre of hundreds of thousands into

a positive story, it is Father Desbois. But such a transformation of horror
and despair into hope and a celebration of humanity calls for a certain
narrowing of vision and a carefully circumscribed set of questions. As
Desbois says, he has to “listen to these horrors – without any judgment.”

Yet my own rich collection of interviews and testimonies has provided me
with a more troubling perspective on what happened in those towns that were
once populated by several ethnic groups and are now almost exclusively

Especially in the region of Western Ukraine, which once comprised Eastern
Galicia, such testimonies have revealed a series of communal massacres in
which the vast majority of the inhabitants participated. This is not simply
a story of good and bad people. Some gentiles sheltered Jews at one point
and denounced them at another.

Some of the most active collaborators also hid Jews in their own homes.
Hardly anyone was a passive bystander. The killings took place on a town’s
main street, in the n earby cemetery and forest, in the local hospital,
marketplace and synagogue.

The Ukrainian participants in the conference did not spend much time on this
issue. The Holocaust is still a highly controversial episode in Ukraine, and
Ukrainians prefer to speak about the rescue of Jews.

But in Galicia, the cradle of Ukrainian nationalism and the support base of
the country’s Orange Revolution, there is also an active effort against
attempts to recall the past.  Almost all 500,000 Jews of Eastern Galicia
were eradicated during World War II, with massive collaboration by Ukrainian

As I have documented, what remains of the sites of Jewish life and culture,
as well as the sites of their murder, has in part been demolished, in part
been converted to other uses, and in part simply left to rot.

But since Ukrainian independence in 1991, a new trend can be observed. Now
the heroes of Ukrainian nationalism and liberation, whose memory was
suppressed by the Communists, can be resurrected. The fact that they also
actively participated in the mass murder of the Jews does not concern their

The former Eastern Galicia is experiencing a memory renaissance. But this is
strictly a Ukrainian national memory. As ever more memorials honoring the
Ukrainians’ struggle for liberation are erected, the remains of Jewish life
are increasingly consigned to oblivion.

Cemeteries have become marketplaces, synagogues are used as garbage dumps,
mass graves remain unguarded and the bones of the murdered resurface during
every thaw.

And just as the last remnants of Jewish life and culture disappear,
anti-Semitic discourse is back, and the Jews are blamed for all the
suffering Ukrainians have endured, from the great famine of the 1930s and
the Soviet murder of nationalist heroes all the way to the corruption of
post-Communist regimes.

This is not a tale of Christian love and reconciliation, but of intentional
distortion and erasure. Yet it, too, must be told.

The current political situation in Ukraine does not offer much hope.
President Viktor Yushchenko is trying to have the great famine recognized

as genocide.

Doing so will not only suggest an equivalence between Stalin’s induced
catastrophe, which cost the lives of up to six million mostly, but not
exclusively, Ukrainian citizens, and the Holocaust.

It will also serve to explain anti-Jewish actions in World War II. Nor can
one expect much from Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, whose
anti-nationalist stance is related to his links with the corrupt Soviet-era
apparatus and his desire to reestablish Ukraine’s ties with Russia.

One can only hope that Ukraine will learn from the example of Poland.

The Poles long denied collaboration in the Holocaust and repressed the
memory of their country’s large and influential Jewish minority.

Yet since the fall of Communism, things have been changing. Poland

has discovered that it is far better politically and more profitable
commercially to celebrate its multiethnic past than to deny it.

But in the meantime, we must act now to stop the erasure of the last
vestiges of Jewish culture in Ukraine. Beyond issuing public protests,
Jewish communities in Europe, the United States and Israel can help

preserve these sites.

Ukraine is poor, and small amounts of money will go a long way. There

is no time to lose, for the little that is left will soon disappear without a
Omer Bartov is a professor of history at Brown University. His book
“Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine” has
just been published by Princeton University Press.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

KYIV – Narodnyi Rukh of Ukraine (NRU) calls on President Viktor Yuschenko

to proclaim soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and other World
War II paramilitary units as fighters for freedom of the Ukrainian nation on
occasion of the 65th anniversary of its foundation.

This follows from an appeal to Yuschenko from the NRU leader Borys Tarasiuk.

“Narodnyi Rukh of Ukraine calls on you, Mister President, to issue a decree
proclaiming soldiers of UPA and other paramilitary units, participants of
the Ukrainian underground of the World War II period and post-war years as
fighters for freedom of the Ukrainian nation, on occasion of foundation of
the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,” reads the appeal.

Rukh members are confident that recognizing UPA is not a problem of history,
though of current state policy, future of the country and people, of
national security.

“UPA with honor fulfilled its trust of the nation and deserves memory and
respect of the state and the Ukrainian people,” thinks the party

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the 65th founding anniversary of the

UPA will be commemorated on October 13.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

KYIV – President Viktor Yuschenko has instructed the Crimean Council of
Ministers, regional administrations, and the Kyiv and Sevastopol municipal
administrations to draft a plan of measures for commemorating the 65th
founding anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

This instruction is contained in the presidential decree No. 966/2007 dated
October 12, a text of which Ukrainian News obtained.

Yuschenko issued the decree on commemorating the 65th founding anniversary
of the creation of the UPA with the aim of restoring national memory and
historical justice, strengthening harmony in the society, and consolidating
the society.

In particular, Yuschenko directed the above-mentioned administrations to
take measures to improve social and medical services to former member

of the liberation movement and study their daily needs.

Yuschenko also directed these administrations to provide targeted material
assistance to veterans of the UPA, award memorable presents to them, and
ensure organization of exhibitions on issues related to the UPA as well as
lectures on the history of the Ukrainian liberation movement.

Moreover, Yuschenko directed the Cabinet of Ministers and the Lviv regional
administration to accelerate the decision on erection of a monument to the
UPA’s commander-in-chief Roman Shukhevych in Lviv.

Yuschenko also directed the Kyiv municipal administration to take measures
to complete renovation of the park named after the fighters for Ukrainian
independence in Kyiv in 2008.

He also directed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to ensure organization of
measures to commemorate the 65th founding anniversary of the creation of

the UPA at Ukraine’s diplomatic missions abroad, with the participation of
representatives of the Ukrainian community abroad.

Yuschenko also directed the State Committee for Television and Radio
Broadcasting to prepare a series of television and radio programs in the

The 65th founding anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent
Army will be commemorated on October 14.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Yuschenko and Yurii Shukhevych, the
leader of the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense
(UNA-UNSO) and son of the UPA’s commander-in-chief and Hero of

Ukraine Roman Shukhevych, discussed commemoration of the 65th
founding anniversary of the UPA on October 9.

The Communist Party has promised to do everything possible to prevent a
march in Kyiv in commemoration of the 65th founding anniversary of the

UPA on October 14.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 12, 2007

KYIV – The Communist Party has promised to do all it can to prevent the
holding of an October 14 march commemorating the 65th anniversary of the
Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Ukrainian News learned this from the CPU
press service.

The statement about resistance was made by Oleksandr Holub, a communist
deputy of the fifth parliament.

‘We have applied for permission to hold mass demonstrations on Khreschatyk
Street and we will do all we can not to let nationalist fascists march
through the central street of the Ukrainian capital city,’ the press service
quoted Holub as saying.

The parliamentarian is critical of President Viktor Yuschenko’s support to
the idea of giving status of WWII combatants to UPA soldiers. ‘The Sunday
events do not add to tranquility in Ukraine, that’s for sure,’ Holub said.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, ten non-governmental organizations and
one political party have filed appeals with the Kyiv city state
administration for holding mass protests downtown on October 14.

Among them the city department of the Communist Party who wants to

celebrate the anniversary of Ukraine’s liberation from German invaders in
Besarabska and European squares, on Khreschatyk and Maidan from 8:00
to 23:00.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

National March of Remembrance
National Committee to Commemorate the
75th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933
New York/Washington, Friday, October 12, 2007   

One of the darkest pages in Ukraine’s history is the Genocide of
1932-33, during which up to 10 million innocent victims were starved
to death through a deliberate Soviet policy to crush the nationally
conscious Ukrainian peasantry.

The Ukrainian Genocide ranks among the worst cases of man’s
inhumanity towards man, and is perhaps the most extreme example
of the use of food as a weapon.

Starting Point: St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church
(7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, New York City)
March begins at 11:45AM

Final Destination: St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Solemn Requiem Service at 2PM

To commence the 75th Anniversary of the Holodomor!

NOTE: For further information contact Tamara Olexy at  .
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, October 4, 2007

KYIV – The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Ukraine has submitted a draft
resolution on informing UNESCO member countries about the Holodomor

of 1932-33 for UNESCO consideration.

Deputy minister of foreign affairs Volodymyr Ohryzko announced this at the
ceremony of handing over 200 books named “The Holodomor Of 1932-33

In Ukraine: Documents And Materials” to the Foreign Ministry.

According to the statement, the Foreign Ministry has submitted the draft
resolution for the UNESCO general conference, which is due to take place
October 15, and asked the UNESCO director general to turn to the
organization member countries to distribute information on the Holodomor

of 1932-33 in Ukraine.

“We shall do our best for the global community to know about this crime…
We come across strong counterstand in the world stage but the history must
not be written over,” he said.  Ohryzko told that the main problems occur
with use of the word “Genocide”.

He explains this with low level of people awareness. “People simply do not
know what was happening. The key point is whether deliver we information

or not,” said Ohryzko.

As Ukrainian News reported, in 2006 the Verkhovna Rada recognized the
Holodomor of 1932-33 as Genocide against the Ukrainian nation. Under

various estimates, three to seven million people were killed in the Holodomor
of 1932-33.
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Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, October 11, 2007

KYIV – Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko has urged Pavol Paska,

speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, to facilitate the
recognition of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as genocide.

Ukrainian News learned this from a statement by the press service of the
President, the wording of which was made available to the agency. The
statement reads that Yuschenko and Paska met in Bratislava on Thursday.

Yuschenko said Ukraine would appreciate the recognition by the Slovak
parliament of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as genocide.

President Viktor Yuschenko further thanked Slovakia for supporting Ukraine’s
bid to join the European Union and NATO.

Yuschenko said, according to the press service, that Ukraine’s newly elected
Verkhovna Rada would ‘intensify’ its dialogue with Slovakia’s parliament.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, on Thursday, President Viktor Yuschenko
traveled from Lithuania to Slovakia on a two-day official visit. On October
4, the Foreign Affairs Ministry submitted a draft resolution on informing
UNESCO member countries about the Holodomor of 1932-33 for UNESCO
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

UNIAN News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 5, 2007

KYIV – On October 4, 2007, the Director of “Kyiv Mohyla Academy” Publishing
House V.Soloviov handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine a
book “The Great Famine-Holodomor-in Ukraine in 1932-1933” for further
distribution among the Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad, according to
the MFA press-service.

First deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine V.Ohryzko expressed his
gratitude to the publisher V.Soloviov for the book handed over to the MFA.

He noted that this book is “especially valuable for foreign diplomatic
missions of Ukraine, which carry out their activities devoted to 75th
anniversary of the Great Famine-Holodomor-in Ukraine in 1932-1933 focused

on acknowledgement by the international community of Holodomor as a
genocide of the Ukrainian nation”.

 V.Ohryzko stressed on importance to deliver  unbiased information about the
Great Famine in 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine to the international community, which
would become a basis for condemnation of the communist totalitarian regime
policy and a warning to the mankind to prevent recurrence of similar crimes.

 At the ceremony the book`s author professor R.Pyrih, the president of the
National University “Kyiv Mohyla Academy” professor S.Kvit and professor
S.Kulchytskiy took part.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


Letter-to-the-Editor: From Steve Komarnyckyj, UK
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #878, Article 20
Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2007
Dear Morgan Williams,
Please would you place an item on the motion for Holodomor
Recognition in the Scottish Parliament in the newsletters that you
produce. We are asking anyone who is Scottish or with a Scottish
connection to write to their MSP in support of the motion.
Thank you, Yours truly
Steve Komarnyckyj (



“That the Parliament notes that it has been over seventy years since the
events of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33, known as the Holodomor;

That there are various estimates as to how many died as a result of this
famine but that even conservative estimates place this in the millions;

Further notes that there is a strong body of opinion that considers the
events of the Holodomor were in fact a deliberate policy of the Stalin
regime of the time and that these constitute an act of genocide;

Acknowledges that a number of countries now recognise the events as

Commends the work of those campaigners working to raise awareness
of the events of the Holodomor, including “The Holodomor Memorial
Website” and; and

Passes its condolences to the relatives of victims of the Holodomor,
which is marked by an official day of remembrance on the fourth
Saturday of November in Ukraine.”
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Genocide Label for WWI-Era Killings Has House Support

By Glenn Kessler, Staff Writer, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, October 10, 2007; Page A01

A proposed House resolution that would label as “genocide” the deaths of
Armenians more than 90 years ago during the Ottoman Empire has won the
support of a majority of House members, unleashing a lobbying blitz by the
Bush administration and other opponents who say it would greatly harm
relations with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq war.

All eight living former secretaries of state have signed a joint letter to
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning that the nonbinding resolution
“would endanger our national security interests.” Three former defense
secretaries, in their own letter, said Turkey probably would cut off U.S.
access to a critical air base.

The government of Turkey is spending more than $300,000 a month on
communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former
congressman Bob Livingston, to defeat the initiative.

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Pelosi, whose congressional district has a large Armenian population, has
brushed aside such concerns and said she supports bringing the resolution,
for the first time, to a full vote in the House, where more than half of the
members have signed on as co-sponsors. The House Foreign Affairs

Committee, which has passed such a resolution before, is set to vote on it

House Resolution 106, officially the Affirmation of the United States Record
on the Armenian Genocide, has been pushed doggedly by a congressman whose
Southern California district contains the largest concentration of Armenian
Americans in the country.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D) won his seat in 2000 after his Republican
predecessor was sandbagged when then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert

reneged on a pledge and pulled the bill from the floor after a last-minute plea
from President Bill Clinton.

Schiff, who defeated Rep. James Rogan after Hastert killed the floor vote,
said the deaths so long ago still resonate with Armenians. “It is an insight
you get when you have lots of Armenian constituents,” he said, saying it
reminded him of conversations he had while growing up Jewish. “But imagine
losing the entire family and having the successor state say it never

Few people deny that massacres killed hundreds of thousands of Armenian

men, women and children during and immediately after World War I.

But Turkish officials and some historians say that the deaths resulted from
forced relocations and widespread fighting when the 600-year-old Ottoman
Empire collapsed, not from a campaign of genocide — and that hundreds of
thousands of Turks also died in the same region during that time.

“This is the greatest accusation of all against humanity,” said Turkish
Ambassador Nabi Sensoy, referring to genocide. “You cannot expect any

nation to accept that kind of labeling.”

He said the reaction in the Turkish parliament would be one of fury, noting
that the Turkish military cut contacts with the French military and
terminated defense contracts under negotiation after the French National
Assembly voted in 2006 to criminalize the denial of Armenian genocide.

Pelosi had long been a co-sponsor of the resolution. The Armenian National
Committee, one of the many Armenian organizations that have sought passage
of the measure for years, has given her an “A” grade for her stance on
Armenian issues.

Now as speaker, Pelosi will face a choice between her role as a national
leader and her previous campaign pledges as a member of Congress.

U.S.-Turkish relations are already under some strain because Kurdish
militant groups have attacked Turkish targets from bases in Iraq, with
Ankara suggesting it may launch its own attack.

Turkey plans to hold a “neighbors” conference on Iraq pushed by the United
States later this month, but a recent poll by the nonpartisan group Terror
Free Tomorrow found that 83 percent of Turks would oppose assisting the
United States on Iraq if the Armenia resolution passed.

It is a problem that has caused other politicians to flinch. As a
presidential candidate in 2000, George W. Bush pledged to ensure that “our
nation properly recognizes” what he called “a genocidal campaign that defies

But, angering Armenian groups, Bush refused to use the term in the annual
presidential statement on the subject made on April 24, generally considered
the beginning of the killings in 1915.

President George H.W. Bush and Clinton also refused to refer to genocide in
their annual statements, for fear of offending Turkey.

Among other things, the resolution calls on the president to use his annual
message to “accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate
annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide.”

In the Senate, where one-third of its members are co-sponsoring the
resolution, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) supports the measure, as
do the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.).

The State Department, which collected the signatures of the former
secretaries of state, has lobbied against the resolution, with Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, Assistant
Secretary of State Daniel Fried and U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson calling
lawmakers yesterday to “urge them not to vote for this,” according to an
interview Fried gave the Anatolia news agency.

The Turkish Embassy is paying $100,000 a month to lobbying firm DLA Piper
and $105,000 a month to the Livingston Group, and it recently added
communications specialists Fleishman-Hillard for nearly $114,000 a month,
according to records filed with the Justice Department. Turkish lawmakers
were on Capitol Hill yesterday, warning that passage would put military
cooperation with Turkey at risk.

Meanwhile, leading the charge for the resolution are grass-roots groups such
as the Armenian Assembly of America, with 10,000 members, a budget of $3.6
million last year and phone banks that are running on overtime calling
members of Congress.

The organization has signed up 53 non-Armenian ethnic groups, including a
number of Jewish groups, to support the resolution.

Some Jewish groups have found themselves in a bind because Turkey is one

of the few Muslim nations to have diplomatic relations with Israel.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
“Genocide is genocide, and there’s no way of sugarcoating it,” Rep. Eliot Engel.

By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Thursday, October 11, 2007; Page A02

Wondering why Congress can’t reach a consensus on the Iraq war? Well,
consider that our lawmakers are still divided on the Turkish-Armenian
conflict. Of 1915.

With bullets flying in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, the House Foreign
Affairs Committee sat down yesterday to resolve a pressing issue: whether

to pass a resolution declaring that the killing of hundreds of thousands of
Armenians 92 years ago qualifies as genocide.

Ankara insists this is nobody’s business but the Turks’. But the
history-minded House knows better. “I consider myself a friend of Turkey,
but friends don’t let friends commit crimes against humanity,” said Rep.
Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in his stinging rebuke of the Ottoman Empire.

Nor was Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) afraid to call a sultan a sultan. He
spoke of a need to “speak truth to Turkey” about the 1915 situation.
“Genocide is genocide, and there’s no way of sugarcoating it,” agreed Rep.
Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Indeed not. Only 92 years late, the intrepid members of the committee voted
27 to 21 to condemn the Young Turks of 1915. The Armenians in the audience,
wearing stickers urging “Stop the Cycle of Genocide,” erupted in applause
and tears. Among the celebrants: Catholicos Karekin II, supreme patriarch of
the Armenian Church.

Amid such fervor, only a minority of lawmakers dared to argue that it was
hardly worth antagonizing Turkey, a crucial ally in Iraq and a rare Muslim
friend, over long-ago atrocities perpetrated by long-dead rulers of a
long-defunct empire.

“This is crazy,” remarked Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who once shot a
watermelon as part of his probes of Bill Clinton. “We’re in the middle of
two wars and we’ve got troops over there that are at risk, and we’re talking
about kicking the one ally that’s helping us over there in the face.”

Then there was the statute-of-limitations conundrum. If it’s within
Congress’s authority to be the arbiter of the Armenian genocide, will it
next confront the Romans for the rape of the Sabine women, or the Greeks for
sacking Troy? And if attacking the Ottomans, why not weigh in on the siege
of Constantinople in 1453?

“Whether it is the Ottoman Empire, the Japanese Empire, the Austro-Hungarian
Empire or, indeed, the Roman Empire, I mean, we could go on for a long time
condemning the atrocities committed under each,” pointed out Rep. Tom
Tancredo (R-Colo.).

And maybe they will. Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) pointed out that the
committee has already probed the enslavement of “comfort women” by imperial
Japan. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) announced yesterday that he will soon
introduce legislation on atrocities against American Indians.

Ostensibly, the debate was about morality (many proponents noted that Hitler
was emboldened by the silence on the Armenian genocide) vs. national
security (several opponents observed that most U.S. air cargo to Iraq goes
through Turkish bases).

While nobody disputed that something very much like genocide happened to

the Armenians 92 years ago, support for the resolution tended to reflect the
size of the Armenian population in the lawmakers’ districts.

All 10 committee members from California (where the census counts 231,777
Armenians) voted aye, while both members from Indiana (total Armenians: 904)
voted no. The Californian chairman, Lantos, warned that the measure could
cause U.S. troops “to pay an even heavier price” — then voted yes.

Ultimately, the threat to national security couldn’t compete with four women
in wheelchairs in the front row wearing pink stickers announcing “I’m a
survivor” of the genocide. “I don’t like Turkey — they are animals there,”
reported Perouz Kalousdian, 97. She left Turkey in 1916 but remembers it
clearly; “they came and they took all my uncles,” she said.

For lawmakers, the memories were rather less fresh and personal. Lantos
reached into the history books and pulled out quotes from the U.S.
ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

“Thank you for your outstanding review of history,” Sherman told the
chairman. “Very fair summary of the history,” agreed Rep. Gary Ackerman

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.) thought it would be better if “everyone
opens their historic books.” “I don’t pretend to be a professional
historian,” demurred Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.). But Rep. Ron Klein
(D-Fla.) insisted. “We are all students of history,” he told colleagues.

Not all students of logic, however. Sherman, arguing passionately for the
label of genocide, acknowledged that the measure was “an irritant to our
relationship with Turkey” but then concluded: “That’s the best reason to
vote for it.”

The debate didn’t improve from there. Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) complained
that “I feel like I have a Turkish sword over my head,” while Rep. Joseph
Crowley (D-N.Y.) contributed a profound thought: “Sticks and stones may
break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Likewise, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), arguing in favor of the
resolution, offered some pithy advice to the feuding Turks and Armenians.
“Move on,” he recommended.

If only Congress could do the same.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The Armenian ambassador to Britain on why he believes, nearly
a century on, Turkey should admit to a genocide

COMMENTARY: By Vahe Gabrielyan
Armenia’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s
New Statesman, London, UK, Friday, October 12, 2007

Throughout the twentieth century to the present day there has not been any
substantiated doubt about the character of the mass deportations,
expropriation, abduction, torture, starvation and killings of millions of
Armenians throughout Ottoman Turkey that started on a large scale in 1915
and carried onto 1923.

Centrally planned by the government of the day and meticulously executed by
the huge machine of the state bureaucracy, army, police, hired gangs and –
specially released for that purpose – criminals from prisons, the campaign
had one clear aim expressly stated by the government in secret directives:
to rid Anatolia of its indigenous Armenian population and settle the
so -called ‘Armenian question’ for good.

An entire nation and its Christian culture were eliminated to secure a
homogenous Turkish state on territories where Armenians had lived for many

Terms such as “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” were not in circulation then,
so Winston Churchill later referred to the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million
Armenians as an “administrative holocaust”.

The Turkish authorities made no secret of the aim once it was achieved and
other governments and nations have known the truth since. One of the early
accounts of Armenian Genocide was published in 1916 in Britain.

The British Government at the time commissioned James Bryce and Arnold
Toynbee to compile evidence on the events in Armenia. The subsequent report
was printed in the British Parliamentary Blue Book series “The Treatment of
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916″. The report leaves no doubt
about what was taking place.

In 1915, thirty-three years before UN Genocide Convention was adopted, the
Armenian Genocide was condemned by the international community as a crime
against humanity.

It is well acknowledged that Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, when he coined
the term genocide in 1944, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians
and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant
by genocide.

Amidst huge international pressure, the Turkish Government succeeding the
Young Turks had not only to recognize the scale and vehemence of the
atrocities but also to try the perpetrators in military tribunals and
sentence the leaders to death.

However, the sentences were not carried out and with the passage of time
moods changed not only in Turkey but also in some countries, such as the

UK, where Turkey is nowadays seen as a key alley.

Still, even in countries that have not yet for some reason recognized the
Genocide scholars have no doubts about the character of the events: they
point out that there is no scholarly issue, only one of political

Armenians throughout the world insist that there be an international
recognition and condemnation of what is often called the first genocide of
the twentieth century. We are past the stage of scholarly discussion since a
very few challenge the fact.

To dispel any doubt, 126 leading scholars of the Holocaust placed a
statement in the New York Times in June 2000 declaring the “incontestable
fact of the Armenian Genocide” and urging western democracies to

acknowledge it.

In 2005 the International Association of Genocide Scholars addressed an open
letter to Turkey’s Prime Minister R. Erdogan calling upon him to recognize
the truth. The evidence is so overwhelming that the only question remaining
is how to help the two nations close that shameful page of the history,
reconcile and move forward.

However, despite the affirmation of the Armenian Genocide by the
overwhelming majority of historians, academic institutions on Holocaust and
Genocide Studies, increasingly more parliaments and governments around the
world, and by more and more Turkish scholars and intellectuals, the Turkish
government still actively denies the fact. So long as they do that,
Armenians have no choice but to struggle for wider international

This is however not an end in itself. It is important that Turkey recognizes
the Genocide, apologizes and condemns it.

When the Germans have apologized for the sufferings they had caused to the
Jews, the British for slavery, the Americans for their treatment of native
Americans etc, Turkey’s continuing denial, moreover, increasing efforts and
resources spent on the denial are alarming signs, aggravated by their
insistence not to establish diplomatic relations with neighbouring Armenia
and by maintaining a blockade on all ground communication.

Armenia does not even set the recognition of the Genocide as a prerequisite
for normalizing relations and calls for establishing diplomatic relations
and opening of the border without any preconditions.

As the killing this January of Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian editor of
the Agos bilingual periodical demonstrates, international community cannot
stand aside and watch. Hrant was persecuted under the infamous 301 article
for “insulting Turkish identity” and the hysteria around someone daring to
speak the truth created the fertile soil for the hatred that killed him.

His case was shamefully still open even after his assassination and in a
demonstration of absolute absence of morality, Turkish courts yesterday
sentenced Hrant’s son, as well as another of Agos’s current staff to a year
of imprisonment under the same accusations, for simply daring to re-print
Hrant’s words.

This is why the world should not yield to Turkish threats that are outright
blackmailing. The resolutions in various legislatures across the world, and
recently in the US House of Representative Foreign Relations Committee are
not merely the result of Armenian Diaspora’s – which by the way, was created
in the first place because of the genocide in Turkey – influence. It is
because there are more people who believe in values and in putting the
wrongs right.

A number of British MPs have tabled an EDM (Early Day Motion), to raise the
awareness about the Armenian Genocide and calling on British Government to
recognize it as such.

Currently, around 170 MPs across the party lines have signed an EDM which
reads “That this House believes that the killing of over a million Armenians
in 1915 was an act of genocide; calls upon the UK Government to recognize it
as such; and believes that it would be in Turkey’s long-term interests to do
the same.”

Their number grows steadily. It is time the British Government followed many
others and re-affirmed the UK’s place among the standard-bearers of
democracy and human rights.

It is worth repeating that international recognition of the Genocide cannot
do harm to Turkish-Armenian relations since they simply do not exist. It
does not prevent a dialogue, on the contrary, creates the necessary
conditions to start a frank one.

By recognizing the historic truth and helping open the last closed border in
Europe, the international community can facilitate long-lasting stability
and prosperity in our region.

And it is also probably time to show that the human race’s evolution into
the 21st century is evolution of ideals, principles and a code of behaviour
that should take precedence over political expediency or sheer commercial

NOTE: It is time to for the world to recognize the Armenian genocide and
time for the world to recognize the Ukrainian genocide. AUR Editor.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

The Associated Press, Yerevan, Armenia, Friday, October 12, 2007

YEREVAN, Armenia – Armenian lawmakers stood to applaud, and their
president called on the U.S. to go even further than the step the U.S.
Congress has made toward labeling the WWI-era deaths of Armenians

But some in the country’s capital expressed fears Armenians could bear
the brunt of a harsh Turkish reaction.

“Historical justice is restored,” said the headline in Friday’s pro-
government newspaper Respublika Armenia.

In parliament, opposition deputies joined their pro-government colleagues
Thursday in a prolonged standing ovation at the announcement of a U.S.
House committee’s passage of the nonbinding resolution the day before.

“We express our gratitude to our colleagues in Congress who demonstrated
great moral qualities and, not giving into different pressures, voted for
the resolution,” said Tigran Torosian, chairman of the National Assembly.

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee defied warnings by U.S. President
George W. Bush with 27-21 approval Wednesday to send the measure to the
full House for a vote. The administration will now try to pressure
Democratic leaders not to schedule a vote, though it is expected to pass.

Such a step could be a cathartic moment across the rugged highlands of this
landlocked republic. Armenians have been straining for decades to gain such
recognition in a dispute that has poisoned their relations with modern
Turkey and seems set to fester yet.

The dispute involves the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman
Turks around the time of World War I, an event viewed by genocide scholars
as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey denies that the deaths constituted a genocide, saying the toll has
been inflated and insisting that those killed were victims of civil war and

Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian called for “a full recognition by the
United States of America of the fact of the Armenian genocide.” Kocharian
spoke in Belgium Thursday after talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier

“All of our foreign contacts around the world demonstrate that there is no
disagreement or that there is no doubt anywhere in the world about the
events that took place in Turkey in 1915, and there is a consensus regarding
those events,” Kocharian said.

“The fact that Turkey has adopted a position of denial of the genocide
doesn’t mean it can bind other states to deny historic truths as well,” he

In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said Thursday
that the ambassador to Washington, Nabi Sensoy, was being recalled for
consultations. Also, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, was invited
to the Foreign Ministry and was told by Turkish officials of their “unease”
over the resolution.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was considering a list of
possible responses to the United States that he could make public in coming
days, according to a senior Turkish official.

When asked earlier if Turkey would shut down Incirlik, a strategic air base
in Turkey used by the U.S. Air Force for operations in Iraq, Erdogan
replied: “You don’t talk about such things, you just do them.”

Bush told Erdogan in a telephone call on Friday that he strongly opposes the

Some Armenians shared fears that Turkey could respond by trying to punish
Armenia or the United States, while others said Ankara would not in the end
risk harming its relations with Washington.

“Ankara will be mad for a few more days and then it will calm down,” was
Friday’s headline in the centrist newspaper Azg, the Nation.

Susanna Papikian, a 55-year-old computer programmer, was among those
who said she was afraid that Turkey might respond angrily, possibly even by
taking military action against its tiny neighbor.

“As a descendent of refugees from western Armenia, I experience such
negative emotions deep in my genes,” she said. “But I’m really happy that
the Foreign Affairs Committee made this decision. I hope the whole House
adopts this resolution.”

Neighboring Azerbaijan, which has close Turkish ties and has been locked
for two decades in a bitter dispute with Armenia over the territory of
Nagorno-Karabakh, lashed out at the resolution.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Azerbaijan “condemns this decision as
wrong and biased,” adding that it was “crucial to learn all details” about
what happened before taking action. It also accused Armenia of ethnic
cleansing and genocide during the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region

in Azerbaijan that has been under ethnic Armenian control since a 1994

Ruben Safrastian, director of the Institute of Eastern Studies of the
Armenian National Academy of Sciences, said he did not expect Turkey
would jeopardize its relations with the United States.

Andranik Migranyan, a pro-Kremlin analyst from Russia who focuses on
relations with former Soviet republics, agreed that Turkey was unlikely to
take action against Armenia.

“Turkey is in negotiations to join the European Union,” he said at a news
conference in Yerevan. “The country must conform to certain norms and
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

COMMENTARY: By D. Parvaz, P-I Columnist
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Washington, Fri, Oct 12, 2007

The modern world has a grim view of those who deny the Jewish Holocaust.
They’re vilified, and in Europe, they’re even locked-up.

I don’t agree with the locking up part (free speech is free speech), but
certainly denying one of the most horrific, well-documented chapters in
history is like clinging to antiquated, nonsensical beliefs — the world is
flat, the sun revolves around the Earth … that sort of thing.

The U.S. is among the nations that have a dim view of those who deny the
Jewish Holocaust. We hold that killing a population based on ethnicity, race
or religion ought to be remembered and mourned.

Last week, Congress was considering a symbolic piece of legislation that
would declare the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915 at the
hands of the Ottoman Empire (today’s Turkey) genocide.

And according to The Associated Press, President Bush “strongly urged
Congress … to veto the legislation,” because the Turkish government has
warned us against doing so.

There, even mentioning the Armenian massacres is verboten (it’s an “insult
to Turkishness”), and to report on it, as Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink did, could get a person killed.

In Turkey, acknowledging the Armenian genocide is a crime, but in Europe,
denying the Jewish genocide can get you a three-year prison sentence.

But why is President Bush (like those before him) trying to pussyfoot around
what is already a well-established fact? He’s not fond of books, but hell,
who needs dusty books and encyclopedias when we have the Internets?

Here it is, Georgie, the definition of “genocide” from
“deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their
ethnicity, nationality, religion or race.”

It goes on for a bit, but … oh, here we are, “Twentieth-century events
often cited as genocide include the 1915 Armenian massacre by the
Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, the extermination of Jews, Roma (Gypsies) and
other groups by Nazi Germany during World War II, and the killing of Tutsi
by Hutu in Rwanda in the 1990s.”

Yet Bush didn’t use the word “genocide” in April, when he issued a
presidential message honoring the murdered Armenians, opting for the softer,
“mass killings” instead.

Last year, I visited the Armenian Vank Cathedral in Esfahan, Iran. The
grounds of the 17th-century church include a museum where chilling evidence
of the Armenian genocide is on display — photos, maps, documents — it’s
all there.

So I wonder why Bush would want to remain silent on the historical record of
the massacres, an injustice Theodore Roosevelt said was “the greatest crime
of the war”? Because it turns out that doing so is inconvenient, something
survivors of the Armenian genocide are sure to understand.

“Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO
and in the global war on terror,” said Bush of the resolution while
addressing the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

See, we need to send our military cargo through Turkey, so, yeah. Besides,
Turkey has threatened to attack Kurds in Iraq, a weak bullying tactic to
repress an established truth.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that acknowledging that Armenians
suffered their own holocaust “would be very problematic for everything we
are trying to do in the Middle East.” Right. Um, what, aside from
privatizing Iraq’s oil supply (such a noble cause), are we trying to do in
the Middle East, exactly?

Ultimately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the resolution, which
seems only right. This isn’t about demonizing Turkey — most countries and
cultures have the blood of another on their hands.

It’s about reparations that start with recognition of what was done. It’s
also about coming to terms with our actions, not as individual nations, but
as the whole of humanity, as one consciousness.

More than 1 million Armenians had their property confiscated, were rounded
up and either starved or slaughtered, and we can’t pretend it didn’t happen.

When making his case for annihilating Jews, Adolf Hitler reportedly said,
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Us.
That’s who.
D. Parvaz is an editorial writer and member of the P-I Editorial Board.
NOTE:  The White House and the State Department has fought for many
years under several Presidents to persuade the U.S. Congress from calling
the murders in Armenia a genocide and the murders in Ukraine a
genocide.  AUR Editor
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

The Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, October 11, 2007

KIEV, Ukraine: Rival Orthodox Christian churches clashed on Thursday over
the handling of a treasured 11th-century monastery, with a Kiev-based church
accusing a rival loyal to Russia’s main church of destroying a landmark

In an angrily worded statement, the Kiev Patriarchate alleged that the
Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church had dismantled the
19th-century arch because it was hampering construction work, calling it a
“blatant insult of the history and culture of the Ukrainian people.”

The golden-domed Kiev Pechersk Lavra that dominates the Kiev skyline is
controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate, which answers to Russian Orthodox
Patriarch Alexy II. But it is considered a sacred symbol by both rival

Archbishop Pavel of the Moscow Patriarchate denied the accusations, saying
the arch was brought down in order to prevent an accident after parts of it
collapsed, according to his press office. He said the arch would be restored

Archimandrite Yevstratiy of the Kiev Patriarchate also accused the Moscow
Patriarchate of pursuing commercial rather than spiritual aims, and
endangering the holy monastery by allowing its officials and parishioners to
drive cars on its grounds and using heavy construction equipment.

“I estimate that soon the number of shops on the grounds of the Lavra will
equal the number of cathedrals or even be higher,” Yevstratiy was quoted as
saying by the Unian news agency.

The Kiev Patriarchate split from the dominant Moscow Patriarchate after the
1991 Soviet collapse. Since then, the two churches have fought over control
of parishes, influence and property in the mostly Orthodox Christian nation
of 47 million.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Laura Wides-Munoz, Associated Press, Miami, Florida, Tue, Oct 9, 2007
MIAMI – Sometimes large-scale international diplomacy is about
small-scale gestures.

On Monday, it was nine Ukrainian children playing with dolphins at the
Miami Seaquarium while waiting to be fitted with free prosthetic
limbs. Their visit and treatment are courtesy of Ukrainian first lady
Kateryna Yushchenko, members of South Florida’s Cuban-American
community and others.

The nonprofit Cuba Democracy Advocates wants to build solidarity with
Ukraine’s fledgling democratic government by helping to pay for
prosthetics for about 30 low-income children from the former communist
nation and by increasing medical exchanges.

Many Cuban-Americans see Ukraine as a model for peaceful political
change and want to support its government and recent criticism of
political repression on the communist island.

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., has worked with the State
Department to send doctors to Ukraine and most recently to bring the
children to Florida.

“The countries that most understand the Cuban people – besides the
U.S. – are the countries of Central and Eastern Europe,” said
Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban-American. “When I go there, I feel so well.
The people there get it.”

The Cuban-American community and the U.S. government are keenly aware
of the decades of medical treatment that Cuba provided for Ukrainians
before pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko became president two years ago.
Cuba treated thousands of Ukrainian children after the 1986 explosion
at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Since 2005, much of that aid has dried up, and relations between the
two countries have cooled.

“The U.S. was concerned that Cuba would cut out medical support for
the Ukraine, and there was a push to say, `If you take a stronger
stance on Cuba, there are still ways to get that support,'” said
Carlos Pascual, vice president and head of foreign policy for the
Brookings Institution in Washington. Pascual served as U.S. ambassador
to Ukraine from 2000 to 2003 and is also Cuban-American.

He called the treatment for the children a good gesture but symbolic,
considering Ukraine has a population of about 47 million people.

Yushchenko won his country’s 2004 election after more than a million
Ukrainians took to the streets to protest voter fraud in favor of the
Russian-backed presidential candidate. Not surprisingly, he has been
critical of Cuba’s repression of political dissidents.

Politics were far from the minds of the Ukrainian children who arrived
last week. They looked alternately thrilled and terrified as the
dolphins leapt out of the water for kisses and high-fives.

When asked what he knew about Cuba or Cuban-Americans before he

came to the U.S., Paul Satsuk, 17, of Polonne, Ukraine, grinned. He
mimed smoking a cigar and drinking coffee.

Satsuk couldn’t explain why Cuban-Americans would feel a special
connection with his country.

“These are very good people, with big hearts,” said Satsuk, who lost
half his right arm in an industrial accident when he was 6.

Vladimir Hynedka, 49, accompanied his young son Stepha on the trip. He
asked his Cuban-American host family if they were Christians because
he couldn’t think of another reason why they would try so hard to help
his son.

The connection between Ukrainians and Cuban-Americans is
understandable, said Taras Tkachuk, 30, a Ukrainian doctor who works
with Kateryna Yushchenko’s charity, Ukraine 3000 Fund, which helped
sponsor the group along with Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics in Orlando.

“It’s difficult to have a democracy after totalitarianism. Our parents
were born under that system. But these kids, they look forward. They
feel life in a different way. They are able to use choices,” Tkachuk
said. “The same will one day be in Cuba.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Nine young Ukrainians came to Florida for prostheses — all donated,
thanks to a congressional trip in 2005. Oleh Shamshur, Ukrainian
Ambassador to the United States, came from Washington to thank the
American people and the Cuban community in Miami for their help.

By Luisa Yanez, Miami Herald, Miami, Florida, Tue, Oct. 09, 2007

Betrayed since birth by deformed legs that can’t support her, Ukrainian
Nataliya Nikolenko gets around on her belly, pushing herself with her hands
on something that resembles a mechanic’s dolly used to get under cars. Any
other position brings pain. Now, she is in Miami looking to fulfill her

”My life’s dream is to be able to sit up — that would be wonderful,” she
said Monday at Miami Seaquarium, where she and eight other young people
from her country — all with personal tragedies that left them needing
limbs — came to swim with dolphins.

With big grins on their faces, the Eastern European visitors — ranging in
age from 9 to 21 — fed, kissed and played with the park’s performing

The pigtailed Nikolenko, 21, who grew up in an orphanage, had to be lowered
into the water by chaperons. She gingerly touched the dolphins. ”I knew
about dolphins, but never dreamed I would see one so close up,” she said

Today, the group heads to Orlando to receive new prostheses, thanks, in
part, to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, a Miami Republican.

Among those in line for new artificial limbs are Pavlo Satsyuk, 17, and
Stepan Hnyda, 11, victims of farm machinery accidents.

”One day when I was little, I was helping my grandfather in the field and I
got my hand caught,” said Pavlo, who speaks broken English. Medical efforts
to save his right arm failed, and it was eventually amputated to the elbow.

Stepan had a similar experience. About a year ago, one of his arms became
caught in farming machinery. He instinctively used his other arm to try to
free himself, but ended up losing both arms, his chaperon said.

Lubov Mashlevska, 18, lost part of her arm and hand in a fire that also left
her scarred. Viktor Semerenko, 17, was born missing both arms, and Nikoloi
Kovol, 19, is without a hand, a deformity he hides with his pants pocket.

”I can tell you for sure that the quality of life for these kids will
improve,” said Dr. Taras Tkachuk, a doctor who traveled to the United
States with the patients hoping to learn new techniques. “They will become
more self-sufficient and be able to do more for themselves — without
sticking out in society.”

Oleh Shamshur, Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, came from
Washington to thank the American people and the Cuban community in Miami
for their help. ”They could receive prostheses in our country, but it would
not be top-notch,” he said.

While the others are in Orlando adjusting to their new limbs, Nikolenko will
remain behind in Miami for an evaluation today with doctors and surgeons at
the University of Miami School of Medicine. They will determine what can be
done for her.

”She is our most challenging project,” Díaz-Balart said. “We hope to get
good news for Nataliya.” Depending on the prognosis, Nikolenko will either
go home and return later, or remain behind in Miami for any needed surgery.
The group heads back to Ukraine on Monday — after a visit to Disney World
in Orlando.

The idea of helping the Ukrainian youngsters began in 2005, when Díaz-Balart
was part of a delegation visiting the former communist stronghold. ”We
wanted to help and asked what we could do,” Díaz-Balart said.

Ukrainian first lady Kateryna Yushchenko, who is involved in Ukraine 3000
International Charitable Fund, a children’s charity, had an idea: Perhaps
Americans could help fit Ukraine’s toughest cases of young people needing

Díaz-Balart jumped at the chance. Twenty children were identified by the
Ukrainian charity to travel to the United States.

The prostheses are being donated by the Hanger Orthopedic Group and Otto
Bock Healthcare in Orlando. Local members of Cuba Democracy Advocates
are paying other costs, and Miami-Dade County families are hosting the

”There are no tax dollars involved,” the congressman said. Díaz-Balart and
his wife, Cristina, took in one of the teenagers. So did state Rep. David

Rivera and his family. Rivera is a Republican who represents parts of
Miami-Dade and Collier counties.

They said they were amazed at how the lack of arms or hands doesn’t deter
the youths. ”They use their feet . . . to do the things we do with our
hands. It’s  amazing,” Rivera said. “But watching them puts in perspective

the blessing we have in our country and in our personal life.”
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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