Month: May 31, 2019 10:40 am

Last year, on June 1-3, 2018, a worldwide campaign to call for the release of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov from a Russian penal colony located above the Arctic Circle was held across at least three continents in over three-dozen cities. The rallies were timed to precede the beginning of the quadrennial World Cup soccer tournament, hosted that year by Russia. (The month-long tournament began on June 14.)

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Following its victory at the United Nations arbitration court that ruled Russia must release the 24 Ukrainian servicemen it illegally seized and still holds, the Ukrainian government has announced that it will seek to gain worldwide recognition of the fact that the Kerch Strait is in an international waterway and not the internal waters of Russia as Moscow insists.

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Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky is urging that Ukraine default on its foreign debt as a way to kick start its economy, but such a step, Mykola Bielieskov says, would cost Kyiv the support it enjoys in the West and almost certainly force it to accept Moscow’s conditions.

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The following joint statement was released on May 23 by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Over the past five years, we, the undersigned, members of civil society organizations, have been actively defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and national interests in global information space and counteracting the Russian information war. Each of our organizations works in a specific field to strengthen civil society and help build high-quality state institutions open to ongoing communication and dialogue with our citizens, responsible for reforming our country and rendering it more stable and secure in the face of strong threats and challenges.

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“As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law. In concert with allies, partners and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.” With these words, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo declared on July 25, 2018, that, much like the forced incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union in 1944, the illegal annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation would never be recognized by the United States.

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Raphael Lemkin, the distinguished lawyer who coined the term “genocide” and is considered the father of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the United Nations on December 9, 1948 (the U.N. Convention on Genocide), regarded the Holodomor as a part of the Soviet genocide against the Ukrainian people. (Rafael Lemkin, “Soviet Genocide in Ukraine,” New York, 1953, https://web.archive.org/web/20120302234607/, http://www.uccla.ca/SOVIET_GENOCIDE_IN_THE_UKRAINE.pdf). Yet recognition of the Holodomor as genocide on the international level still is not universal.

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Saakashvili hails ‘courageous’ Zelensky

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who served as governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region in 2015-2016, has welcomed the restoration of his Ukrainian citizenship by President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “courageous step by a courageous and worthy president.” Mr. Saakashvili made the remark in an interview with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service on May 28 after Mr. Zelensky signed a decree that annulled a decree by his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, which deprived Mr. Saakashvili of his citizenship. Speaking via Skype from Poland, Mr. Saakashvili told RFE/RL that Mr. Poroshenko’s decision to strip him of Ukrainian citizenship was a “cowardly step by an unworthy president.”

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SOCCER

U-20 men’s team advances to knockout stage

Ukraine’s men’s under-20 national team tied 1-1 with Nigeria on May 30 in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, to finish in first place in Group D of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland (tournament hosts). Ukraine won 2-1 against the U.S. on May 25 and won 1-0 against Qatar on May 27 in Tychy.  Ukraine finished with seven points.

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PHILADELPHIA – A most unique exhibit of religious iconography, titled “Icons on Ammo Boxes,” will be on display at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 830 North Franklin St., during the week of June 2-9.

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NEW YORK – Following the announcement in his inaugural speech that he was dissolving Parliament, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a presidential decree on May 21, dissolving the VIII Convocation of the Verkhovna Rada and calling for snap parliamentary elections. The decree was published on May 23, in the Uriadoviy Kurier (Government Courier) newspaper, which under Ukrainian law means the decree has entered into force. Accordingly, Ukraine’s electorate will head to the polls on July 21.