Month: March 27, 2020 6:37 am

KYIV – The Cabinet of Ministers, meeting on March 25, imposed an emergency situation regime on the entire territory of Ukraine, extending the coronavirus quarantine that was expected to end on April 3 to April 24. At the time of the government’s announcement, there were 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with four deaths, in Ukraine.

“It is planned to introduce the emergency situation regime for 30 days. Accordingly, we also plan to extend all quarantine restrictions for 30 days, until April 24. Please do not confuse the emergency situation with a state of emergency. An emergency situation does not limit the constitutional rights of citizens, but only consolidates the efforts to combat the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. The measure could be extended as necessary, he added.

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – During the self-isolation and social distancing that have been prescribed by governments around the world as a measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Ukrainian community life continues, albeit online.

Universities and schools have moved classes online and incorporated home study, and Ukrainian organizations have followed similar paths. Youth groups, including Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization and the Ukrainian American Youth Association (as well as its counterpart in Canada, the Ukrainian Youth Association) now hold meetings online. Schools of Ukrainian studies – known in many communities as the local “Ridna Shkola” with classes usually held on Saturdays – are exploring options for online learning (the Ukrainian Educational Council USA website is www.ridnashkola.org). Some teachers have recorded videos of Ukrainian folktales and similar lessons for younger students.

In recent months, the Kremlin dramatically stepped up efforts to push its interests and political agenda across the post-Soviet space as part of various “negotiations” and “conflict resolution procedures.” A particularly striking example of this can be seen in the results of the most recent Minsk negotiation process pertaining to the war in eastern Ukraine (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, March 13).

The Russian and Ukrainian presidents’ representatives, Dmitry Kozak and Andriy Yermak, respectively, met in Minsk on March 11. There, they agreed to create a new negotiating platform, to be called the Advisory Board, as part of the wider Minsk talks. The new platform, as proposed, would treat the Ukrainian government and Moscow’s proxies in occupied Donetsk and Luhansk as coequal parties to an intra-Ukrainian conflict. Russia, meanwhile, would henceforth be considered an impartial observer in the proceedings (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, March 19).

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MH17 trial resumes briefly

The trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with multiple counts of murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine in 2014 resumed briefly at The Hague on March 23 amid coronavirus restrictions. The Dutch judges in the trial read out several preliminary decisions before ruling to adjourn the case until June 8 in order to give the defense lawyers of one of the accused more time to prepare their case. The courtroom was almost empty during the 45-minute session, which was livestreamed on the Internet due to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. MH17 was shot down July 17, 2014, by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The civilian passenger plane was on a flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia when it was shot down. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. The victims included 193 Dutch citizens as well as 43 Malaysians and 38 Australians.

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On March 10 in Moscow, Ukraine’s leading Russophile politician Viktor Medved­chuk conferred with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Duma leaders about adding an “inter-parliamentary dimension” to the Normandy forum (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine), which is an inter-governmental process. The idea, credited to Mr. Medvedchuk, is to enlist interparliamentary support for decisions in the Normandy and Minsk processes on special status and elections in Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Donbas. Those decisions would then be handed down to the Verkhovna Rada for legislative enactments.

Mr. Putin gave Mr. Medvedchuk this opportunity to bypass Ukraine’s state leadership and publicly coordinate his initiative with the Kremlin. The reaction from Ukraine’s presidential team is equivocal and supine.

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TORONTO – Ukrainian World Congress President Paul Grod held a teleconference with Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine on March 19.

Mr. Grod was joined on the call by UWC First Vice-President Stefan Romaniw, Vice-President Andriy Futey, UWC Executive Director Mariia Kupriianova and Serhiy Kasyanchuk, director of the UWC Mission to Ukraine.

As the international coordinating body for Ukrainian communities in the diaspora, the UWC offered help and support to the essential efforts of Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, including in disseminating official information to Ukrainians abroad and providing humanitarian support on the international level.

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ESSENDON, Australia – The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations (AFUO) on March 20 announced the formation of the AFUO COVID-19 Coronavirus National Community Task Force.

The role of the task force is to better coordinate dissemination of information and support services in the community during this time. The task force is chaired by Stephan Chomyn; co-chairs are Stefan Romaniw and Kateryna Agyrou; Iryna Andreeva is secretary.

Members of the task force include these community organizations: Association of Ukrainians in Victoria, Association of Ukrainians in South Australia, Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania, Ukrainian Association of Queensland, Ukrainian Association of Western Australia and the Ukrainian Council of New South Wales.

TORONTO – The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) is urging the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to refrain from discussing and voting on the issues that may cause social tensions and controversial reaction in society during a time of national quarantine restrictions due to the coronavirus.

In particular, the UWC called on the Verkhovna Rada to comply with the previously adopted decision to consider only draft bills on the prevention of emergence and spread, and on localization and liquidation of COVID-19 outbreaks.

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PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The 2020 Almanac of the Ukrainian National Association, which is published by Svoboda Press, was mailed earlier this year to Svoboda subscribers, but it is available for purchase by others who may be interested in this unique publication, which this year marks its 105th annual release.

The Ukrainian-language publication is devoted to historic anniversaries of the year 2020. The 288-page UNA Almanac opens with an article by the late Ivan Kedryn Rudnytsky, the well-known journalist active in Ukraine and the United States who was a longtime member of the Svoboda editorial staff. This excerpt from his memoirs speaks about the momentous year 1920 and what it meant for Ukraine.

The National Office of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America released the following statement on the 2020 U.S. Census on March 23. We publish it here as a guest editorial. (For a graphic related to the Census, please see the full-page advertisement on the last page of this issue in pdf file.)

Census Day, April 1, is almost upon us, and while the 2020 United States Census might not be the first online American census, it will be America’s first digital census. This year, American households will receive in the mail a 12-digit census ID number, instructing us to go to www.my2020census.gov. (You can still also respond to your census letter by mail or phone.) As we are all legally obligated to participate in the census, we should all do this by April 1, or at the latest by the end of the tabulation period at the end of July.

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Last year, on April 4, 2019, the family of Quinn Lucas Schansman filed a lawsuit against Russia’s Sberbank and VTB Bank, as well as the Western Union Co., Western Union Financial Services, MoneyGram International and MoneyGram Payment System.

Schansman, 18, was the lone American killed when Russian militants shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages from the companies for the death of Schansman.

The banks and U.S. money-transfer firms allegedly provided services to Russia-backed militants that have been identified by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as responsible for the downing of the commercial jetliner by a Russian-made Buk missile.

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There has been outrage since a document signed on March 11 in Minsk was published by the Ukrainian media and it became clear what the Ukrainian side had agreed to. Civic activists, political analysts and even 50 national deputies from the party associated with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have warned that the agreement signed by, among others, the head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, would cross a vital red line.

It is also extremely worrying that news of what appears to be a shift in Mr. Zelenskyy’s public position emerged only because the document signed was reported in the media. Small wonder that one of the public statements issued on March 13 suggested that the Zelenskyy administration might be trying to push through this unacceptable move at a time when the coronavirus crisis has led to restrictions on mass gatherings, including protests.

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