Archive for September, 2010

What Liberals Must Learn From Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (Huffington Post)

September 29th, 2010 1 comment

An inspiring article comes from the popular online newspaper the Huffington Post on what the Orange Revolution gave in terms of freedoms to Ukraine, and how the current pro-Russia regime is trying to stamp them all out and return to the days of the Soviet Union:

In 2004, Ukraine experienced the Orange Revolution: protest camps filled the capital, Kyiv; millions peacefully demonstrated in the bitter winter months to overturn a corrupt, Kremlin-pressured election. Five years later, Viktor Yanukovych, a laughable presidential candidate and the Russian-backed foe of the Orange Revolution, is now president of Ukraine, due to the global economic collapse — a tsunami for the country’s already fragile economy — and years of in-fighting that plagued the ruling liberals.

Now Yushchenko, once the great hero of the Orange Revolution, is now seeing his pro-NATO, pro-EU efforts dissolve, along with freedom for the press. Yanukovich, or Mini Putin, Ukraine’s new president, is threatening to rewrite history to make the Soviet years seem less horrifying, so Ukrainians can feel better about going back to being a Russian satellite state. And we all know, from the assassination of journalists, political opponents, and police violence used to break up demonstrations for civil rights, Russia’s leaders are still in a Soviet state of mind.

Here’s just one example of the growing threat to free speech in Ukraine, (which includes the kidnapping of a journalist and the brutal beating of another):

On September 8, the Security Service in Ukraine arrested Ruslan Zabilyi, a young historian and director of a museum in L’viv, a nationalistic pro-West, pro-democracy city in Ukraine near the border of Poland. Tymothy Snyder in the blog of the New York Review of Books writes:

On September 8, the Security Service (SB), under new leadership appointed by the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, arrested in Kiev a young historian named Ruslan Zabilyi, the director of a museum in Lviv devoted to the occupation of Ukraine by the Nazis and the Soviets. He is charged with intending to pass state secrets to foreigners. On September 13 and 14, SB agents searched the offices of the museum’s research staff, confiscating two laptops containing archival documents for a planned exhibition on Ukrainian resistance to Soviet rule; authority over the museum has been transferred to the Institute of National Memory, which is now directed by a communist.

According to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Zabilyi was seized on the street by six plainclothes SB operatives, held without a warrant or an arrest order, interrogated for fourteen hours, and forced to surrender his computer and external hard drives. Though Ukrainian law is confusing on these issues, the basic case against Zabilyi seems to be that he was intending to transmit documents from archives to foreigners.

But that could never happen here. Right? Well, it depends on how much you pay them.

Who helped Mini Putin come to power and smooth out his messaging? Why a GOP lobbyist, of course

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American Ukrainian groups ignore Yanukovych talks, protest his arrival to USA instead

September 27th, 2010 3 comments

Heading to the UN in New York last week, Yanukovych’s administration attempted to create ‘dialogue’ with several Ukrainian American groups. The groups, not impressed by the lack of response on their issues – deteriorating civil liberties and press freedoms, selling of national interests to Russia and denying genocide among them, have decided to ignore his requests and instead protest his visit:

The issue which strongly turned Ukrainian-Americans against the Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych is his controversial gas-for-fleet deal with Moscow in April. Yanukovych received a 30 percent discount on Russian natural gas imports in exchange letting the Russian Black Sea Fleet remain based on the Crimean peninsula through at least 2042.

Yanukovych seemed to be trying in recent days to win over his American critics ahead of his trip to New York.

Also, coming several days before the U.S. trip, Yanukovych sent a letter to the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America calling for dialogue. But, upset with what they view as his pro-Russian and anti-democratic policies, the congress responded to his overture by organizing street protests on his visit.

Some pictures of the protest from Unian:

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Ukrainian-born Torontonian on ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ (Update: now there’s two!)

September 23rd, 2010 5 comments

Update: Denys has won the contest!

image If you’re watching this season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’, one of their competitors is a Ukrainian from Toronto:

Born in the Ukraine, Denys first started dancing ballroom at four–years-old. He moved to Toronto when he was 12, and by the time he was 14, he was back in Europe studying and training in Berlin. At 19, Denys was enrolled at the prestigious arts school, Juilliard in New York City. Upon graduation, Denys continued with a Masters Program in Dance Education at New York University.

You can watch his amazing audition that got him to the show:

Ukrainian born Denys Drozdyuk said it was a combination of hard work and good luck that helped him make it into the Top 22 of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA Season 3. He is grateful for the opportunity to show Canada who he is and says the competition has already improved his overall outlook. "The competition thus far has taught me that no matter what the circumstances, I must always stay professional and dedicated to what I do. No matter how I feel, I still need to perform my job 110%."

Read the rest of his bio and follow him on Facebook

Update: A reader pointed out there’s a second Ukrainian dancer this season from Edmonton Jeff Mortensen:

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More photos & videos from the 2010 Toronto Ukrainian Festival (Updated)

September 20th, 2010 No comments

imageIf you didn’t get your fix from Friday’s opening day uploads, here are the rest of photos and videos from the festival:

Another successful year with some great bands and luckily very nice weather. MadHeads XL were especially a real treat to see, brought in all the way from Ukraine. Even Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford was seen out and about during the festival, meeting and greeting with the attendees.

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    First look at the 2010 Toronto Ukrainian Festival (Updated)

    September 18th, 2010 No comments

    Update: More photos & videos from the 2010 Toronto Ukrainian Festival (Updated)

    If you still haven’t gone to the Toronto Ukrainian Festival – well what are you waiting for? The weather’s great today, and Mad Heads XL came in from Kyiv to play! So be sure to come down this weekend, and in the meantime here are some clips from last night:

    Update: Pictures from the opening parade are available now too!


    Opening ceremonies – Ukraina School of Dance


    Гопак / Hopak – Ukraina School of Dance


    Mad Heads XL – equipment check


    Some musical performances

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