Month: May 31, 2019 11:15 am

KYIV – President Volodymyr Zelensky is making Brussels the destination of his first foreign trip on June 4-5 to visit European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) institutions.

Meetings are planned with European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

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KYIV – A Moscow court on May 27 denied an appeal by eight Ukrainian navy crewmen to be freed despite a United Nations tribunal ruling two days earlier that ordered Russia to free 24 Ukrainian seamen who have been detained for six months.

Moscow will not abide by the ruling, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian media.

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OTTAWA – Volodymyr Zelensky’s bold decision to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and push the parliamentary election ahead from October to July a day after he was sworn in as Ukraine’s sixth president could have been lifted off the script from “Servant of the People,” the popular Ukrainian comedy series that made the current head of state a television star.

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Ukraine’s elder statesman Volodymyr Horbulin cautioned Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of his inauguration that he should not fill the senior presidential staff and top national security posts with his personal friends and business associates. Ukraine’s previous presidents repeatedly made that mistake, privileging personal loyalties at the expense of professionalism, Mr. Horbulin noted in a widely-circulated essay (Fakty, May 16).

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Volodymyr Zelensky was sworn in as Ukraine’s next president on May 20. The popular comedian won a landslide victory over the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, by accumulating a critical mass of protest votes across the country. In his inaugural address, Mr. Zelensky disbanded the Verkhovna Rada, called on members of the government to free their positions “for somebody who will care about future generations and not just about the next elections,” and asked the legislature to use the last two months before the early elections to adopt a new Electoral Code. This much-awaited legislative package would introduce a system of electoral open party lists, define criminal liability for illegal enrichment and abolish the immunity currently enjoyed by members of Parliament (Radio Svoboda, May 20).

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The following statement was released by the Ukrainian World Congress on May 26.

The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) expresses deep concern over the prospect of holding an “advisory referendum” regarding a peace deal with Russia as proposed by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on May 23.

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Following is the opening address by President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 20 at the reception for heads of foreign delegations attending his inauguration.

We are glad to welcome you on the Ukrainian land! Ukrainians are a very hospitable people. From time eternal we have always welcomed guests having good intentions with a sincere heart and open arms.

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WASHINGTON – Lt. Gen. Yuriy Sodol, commandant of the Ukrainian Marine Infantry, and his small staff came to visit his American counterpart, Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) at the Pentagon on May 13. Thereafter, he embarked on a three-day tour of Marine bases at Quantico (Virginia), Camp Lejeune (North Carolina) and Parris Island (South Carolina) to discuss training methods and expanded security cooperation activities, such as Operation Sea Breeze.

The U.S. special envoy on Ukraine has called Russian activity in eastern Ukraine an “occupation” and has called on Moscow to start implementing its obligations under the 2015 Minsk accords – the international agreement aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

U.S. State Department Special Representative Kurt Volker made the remarks on May 28 while speaking to journalists about the prospects for Ukraine’s future under newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Ukrainian National Association held national bowling tournaments. The first of these very popular events was held on April 29-30, 1966, in Aliquippa, Pa., at Sheffield Lanes. The tournament was organized by the UNA Sports Committee; its host was UNA Branch 120, the St. Nicholas Society. In the photo on the bottom, UNA Supreme President Joseph Lesawyer rolls the first ball of the tourney. Looking on (from left) are: Andrew Lysenko of UNA Branch 120, and UNA Supreme Advisors Helen Olek, William Hussar and Andrew Jula. For the record, 30 teams competed at that first tournament, and the men’s and women’s teams from Chicago won the top trophies and cash prizes.

On May 25, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which is based in Hamburg, Germany, issued its ruling on the case filed by Ukraine against Russia in the matter of the Ukrainian servicemen and ships seized near the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018. By a vote of 19 to 1, the court ruled: 1) “The Russian Federation shall immediately release the Ukrainian naval vessels Berdyansk, Nikopol and Yani Kapu, and return them to the custody of Ukraine” and 2) “The Russian Federation shall immediately release the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and allow them to return to Ukraine.” The lone judge voting against the ruling was Russian. The bad news is that, though the maritime court’s decisions are legally binding, there is no enforcement mechanism.

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