Browsing: The Year in Review

The Year in Review

Faced with lockdowns, travel restrictions and rules for distancing, Ukrainian artists and organizations modified their activities and presentations to address the new challenges of COVID-19. In-person events went on-line, often even including active participation of everyone via Zoom sessions.

When the coronavirus struck in March, the sports world was thrown upside down. For many, many months it was the year that wasn’t. The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed for one year. Some international sports competitions were canceled, others pushed back. Professional sports leagues saw their seasons put on hold for months. Eventually, after months of careful strategizing around and against a deadly pandemic, sports returned, albeit in most unique circumstances. Abbreviated seasons played out, tournaments played on, competitions resumed, some scheduled events in the latter half of the year were held, champions were crowned, and medals were distributed to victorious individuals and teams, mostly without spectators and fans.

Not even a pandemic could stop Ukrainians, especially Ukrainians in the U.S. The year 2020 began like any other year, but then things changed, and the community adapted with events, meetings and other activities moved online. Major events and milestones, like the 95th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, were commemorated, some events were postponed, and others had to be cancelled. But, as an editorial in The Weekly reminded readers, “Hope is not cancelled.”

Filmmaker and writer Oleh Sentsov visited the United States on January 25, with a stop at the Ukrainian National Home in New York hosted by Razom for Ukraine, to discuss his observations since his release from Russian imprisonment in December 2019 after his arrest in Crimea in May 2014 by Russian occupying forces. Mr. Sentsov focused his remarks to the nearly 300 in attendance on the political prisoners held in Russia, those held by the Russia-backed militants in the Donbas, and the political situations in Ukraine and Russia.

Virtual. That would be the best word to characterize the activity of the worldwide Ukrainian diaspora during 2020 as the novel coronavirus spread. In-person events were few and far between, but there were plenty of official statements laying out the diaspora’s positions regarding developments in Ukraine and issues related to Ukraine.

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations (AFUO), which comprises 24 community organizations throughout the country and acts as the spokesperson on matters concerning relationships within the Ukrainian community and between Australia and Ukraine, was active also in humanitarian issues and COVID-related concerns. At the beginning of 2020, Stefan Romaniw, the federation’s co-chair, reported that the Ukrainian Australian community had raised $67,000 – well over the stated goal of $50,000 – for relief efforts related to the huge bushfires that ravaged Australia.

From fund drives for existing church properties in the U.S. and the construction of a new church in Palatine, Ill., to the consecration of new bishops around the globe and moves made in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was certainly an eventful year for our Ukrainian Churches. Following, in chronological order, are major developments of the year.

In the January 5 issue of The Ukrainian Weekly, readers learned about the ASC Capital Campaign, a fund drive launched in August 2019 for All Saints Camp in Emlenton, Pa., which is owned by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. (UOC-U.S.A.). The drive aims to make necessary upgrades with the camp’s approaching 50th anniversary in 2028, to allow the camp to grow, so that a safe and fun encampment facility can continue to offer programs for all ages.

As in most of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic did not spare Ukraine in 2020 and even reached a Chilean research center in Antarctica in December. In March, the same month that Ukraine recorded its first case of the coronavirus that originated in China in 2019, authorities in Kyiv imposed strict restrictive measures to stave off the spread of the highly transmissible disease.

Only essential stores were allowed to stay open, and even the Kyiv subway was closed; public transportation was limited for a while in the early spring. Medical workers were trained to treat COVID-19 patients, and special hospital wards were established as the country’s dilapidated health-care system braced for hospitalizations.

The year 2020 was, what can we say, a follow-up to the unusual year that preceded it as regards U.S.-Ukraine relations. There were plenty of ups and downs, and oftentimes it seemed the Trump administration and Congress were on opposite sides when it came to Ukraine. Sometimes, different positions were articulated by members of the administration and the president himself.

A case in point: While members of Congress and the administration kept up the pressure on Russia for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine, President Donald Trump was willing to ignore Russia’s violations of international law when he suggested on May 30 that he wanted to invite Russia to rejoin the Group of Seven. “I don’t feel that as a G-7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “It’s a very outdated group of countries.”