Archive for February, 2009

Weekend watching: Holodomor the movie

February 27th, 2009 No comments

This is a preview for the upcoming Holodomor: The Movie.  Coming soon!

Click here if you cannot watch the embedded clip.

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KGB Lennikovs to be deported back to Russia

February 27th, 2009 No comments

From Burnaby News Leader:

A local Russian family has lost its bid to stay in Canada after Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan turned down its special application to remain in the country.

At issue is Mikhail’s past as a former KGB agent, recruited from university to spy on Japanese businessmen visiting the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

This article is basically just an update from an earlier write up in the Vancouver Sun, with minor edits to be more sympathetic to their situation.

Burnaby News Leader:

He says he was coerced into joining the spy agency and eventually quit.

Vancouver Sun:

Lennikov has maintained that he was virtually coerced into joining the KGB and that he was always looking for a way to quit.

Burnaby News Leader:

The family left the country after learning he was marked as a traitor and faced retribution.

Vancouver Sun:

He was dismissed from the KGB in 1988 on the grounds that he was incapable of service after submitting a report to his superiors explaining why wasn’t suitable for employment.

But after he left he received a number of warnings from KGB contacts that he was a marked man and was considered a traitor, he said.

Burnaby News Leader:

They moved to Canada in 1997, when Dmitri was only six. Mikhail was open about his past when the family applied for permanent residency status.

Vancouver Sun:

The family was denied permanent residency in Canada by an immigration officer after Lennikov’s background as a KGB officer was disclosed.

The issue received lots of press in the Fall, mostly sympathetic to the Lennikovs but some not.  Last week Ukemonde pointed out an Op-Ed in the Winnipeg Press called “KGB killers enjoy life in Canada” that highlights KGB officers – torturers and murderes who still reside in Canada and must be removed.

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Ukrainian news round-up – Feb 24, 2009

February 24th, 2009 1 comment

North America

  • What happens when the Washington Times get a pro-Soviet freelance journalist to write about the Crimea? You get a letter from the Ambassador of Ukraine, that’s what.
  • Prof. John-Paul Himka, a professor with the department of history and classics who specializes in the Holodomor takes a dim view of Canadian efforts to help prevent famines and has no lack of front-page new stories to help make his point. He has a special interest in how governments use food as a political tool to coerce civilians and enfeeble political opponents. “The blockade around Gaza is about resources as are many of the political conflicts in the world right now.”
  • Obama’s Foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski: “We should work so that Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan do not become victims of US-Russia dialogue. If we sacrifice these republics, Russia’s integration into the world will slow.
  • Exotic and cheerful community gathered at the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, D.C. for the 10th annual celebration of the International Mother Language Day on Feb. 21. Bangladeshi saris, Ukrainian embroidered clothing, African golden dresses, and Russian red sarafans represented the diversity. The Ukrainian community actively participated in the event. The multicultural audience applauded Solomia Dutkewych, singing the songs Rodymyi Krayu (My Beloved Homeland) and U Sadu Vyshnevomu (In the Cherry Orchard).

Europe & Africa


  • Ukrainian officials claim Russia is rapidly distributing passports in the Crimea peninsula. Many influential Russian politicians, such as Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, believe Khrushchev’s decision was illegal and Russia is duty-bound to repossess Crimea. It is estimated that about 200,000 people – or nearly every 10th resident – has dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship, although it is prohibited by law. “(Russia is) trying to do the same thing they did with Abkhazia and South Ossetia – establish legal grounds, at least in the Russian legal system, for intervention, whether that be economic, political or military”.
  • Ukraine’s top intelligence official announced that a significant part of the country’s secret archives would be made public. But Ukraine has never undergone a lustration process, o weeding out of government officials who collaborated with the Soviet-era intelligence services, they made a smooth transition from the Soviet era to an independent Ukraine and remained in power. How much of the former KGB’s most secret legacy even remains in Ukraine in documented form is also in doubt.
  • An explosion of traffic and comments came to a blog that described what a “Russophone Ukrainian nationalist” is.
  • EU foreign ministers on Monday considered increasing economic and other aid to Ukraine and four other ex-Soviet republics to try to counter Moscow’s continuing influence. The proposed partnership does not promise EU membership — something Ukraine, in particular, wants. The plan is expected to be formally approved at a mid-March meeting of the 27 EU leaders.



Other news

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Weekend watching: Ted Baryluk’s Grocery

February 21st, 2009 No comments

Here’s another from the National Film Board of Canada called Ted Baryluk’s Grocery (10 minutes):

Ukrainian-Canadian Ted Baryluk’s grocery store has been a fixture in Winnipeg’s north end for over 20 years. In this photo study, Ted talks about his store, the customers who have come and gone and the social changes his multicultural neighbourhood has seen. But most of all he wonders what will become of his store after he retires. He hopes his daughter will take over, but she wants to move away. The film is a wistful rendering of a shopkeeper’s relationship with his daughter and a fascinating portrait of a neighbourhood and its inhabitants.

Happy Weekend!

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Remembering Jack Palance

February 18th, 2009 2 comments

Today would be the 90th birthday of Academy award winning Ukrainian-American Jack Palance.  He was born Volodymyr Palahniuk in Hazle, Pennsylvania to parents from Western Ukraine (Lviv & Ivano Zolota, Ternopil), and lived a very extraordinary life.  He started working as a young adult in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, and later became a professional boxer under the name Jack Brazzo, breaking the record for longest string of victories by knockout. At the onset of WW2, Jack left boxing to join the US Air Force but on a training mission his plane had caught fire, burning his face and required extensive plastic surgery which gave him his distinct facial features.  After being discharged, he studied at Stamford University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama.

Palance’s acting break came as Marlon Brando’s understudy in A Streetcar Named Desire, and he eventually replaced Brando on stage as Stanley Kowalski. In 1957, Palance won an Emmy for best actor for his portrayal of Mountain McClintock in Requiem for a Heavyweight. Four decades after his film debut, Palance won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on March 30, 1992, for his performance as cowboy Curly Washburn in the 1991 comedy City Slickers. Stepping onstage to accept the award, he dropped to the floor and demonstrated his ability, at age 73, to perform one-handed push-ups (watch the video). He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard.

Jack was also very interested in Ukrainian history, and as a child his father would read to him and his siblings the Ukrainian language newspaper front to back. He was also a big fan of Ukrainian cinema and headed the Hollywood Trident Foundation, an organization for Ukrainians working in the film industry. Palance wanted his final role as the lead Oles in Sanin’s “Kobzari”, a person who returns to Ukraine from America, and goes through suffering, misery, separation, despair, disappointment, and then redemption. It was scheduled to begin production the year following his death in 2006.

Perhaps Jack’s most Ukrainian moment came in 2004 when he was invited to the awards ceremony for the “Russian Nights” Art festival, to win the “Russian People’s Choice Award” along with Dustin Hoffman. In accepting his award, Dustin Hoffman noted that his grandparents came from “Kiev, Russia” and expressed gratitude to the “Russian people”. After being introduced, Palance said:

I feel like I walked into the wrong room by mistake. I think that Russian film is interesting, but I have nothing to do with Russia or Russian film. My parents were born in Ukraine: I’m Ukrainian. I’m not Russian. So, excuse me, but I don’t belong here. It’s best if we leave.

Palance and his entourage then proceeded to get up and leave. He refused to accept the award, even in private, or to view “72 Meters”, the movie being screened as the festival finale. As part of the film’s plot development, the Ukrainian submarine’s Russian officers refuse allegiance to newly independent Ukraine, steal the ship and sail it to Russia.

It was with a heavy heart to see Jack go, as he passed away due to natural causes with his family at his side in California.  The only Hollywood actor to be titled ‘of Ukrainian descent’.

R.I.P. Volodymyr Palahniuk
February 18, 1919 – November 10, 2006
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