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:
As well here are some videos of the demonstration:
Covering up history
Since President Yanukovych came to office, declassifying the SSU’s archive of secret famine documents has been suspended as the position of the archive department head was taken by a representative of the Communist Party of Ukraine, which still exists as a political party in Ukraine. The communist-affiliated official said that what was secret must be secret.
There are also concerns that the SSU is putting pressure on historians and workers of some national history museums to cover up the atrocities of communism.
In early September, the SSU initiated a criminal case against Ruslan Zabiliy, a historian and the director of Lviv-based museum known as The Prison on Lasko, which billed itself as a memorial for those who lived under occupying regimes. That museum is currently under the SSU’s control.
Zabiliy is being accused of trying to obtain secret state documents. In his defense, he said that he just worked with public documents.
About 140 historians and scientists supported Zabiliy sending a protest letter to President Yanukovych calling on the president to stop prosecuting him.
Former Ukrainian President Yushchenko has stressed his concerns over the issue, saying that the authorities have now started persecuting scientists and historians.
In the letter addressed to the UCCA, Yanukovych openly asked for support instead of criticism. He promised to declassify all the documents related to the Holodomor, to increase the funding of the Lviv museum “Turma na Lonskoho” (Prison on Lonsky Street) and to create public television free of political interference. But the UCCA rejected the letter as an empty promise and “insincere.”
Askold Lozynskyj, a New York attorney and prominent member of Ukraine’s diaspora community, said: “Yanukovych promised to solve the roblems with ‘Turma na Lonskogo’ museum by transferring it under the supervision of the Institute of National Memory, which is headed by no other than Valeriy Soldatenko!”
Soldatenko is a Communist Party leader who has recently claimed that he never gave up his party membership card. He also denies the Holodomor was an act against Ukrainians and talks in a derogatory way about the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which fought for Ukrainian national independence through the mid-20th century, and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
Both movements are viewed by many in western Ukraine and abroad as pro-Ukrainian freedom fighters and heroes for their efforts to attain Ukrainian independence during World War II. But propaganda from the Soviet Union, an ally of Nazi Germany until attacked, painted these Ukrainian movements as Nazi collaborators.
Olexander Motryk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, called Lozynskyj several days before Yanukovych’s visit and asked what the president could do to avoid the street protest. Lozynskyj answered: fire Soldatenko, Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk and recognize the Holodomor as genocide.
Instead of accepting Yanukovych’s invitation for a metting, Ukrainian-Americans took to the streets of New York with slogans, like “Ukraine’s sovereignty is not for sale,” “Russian fleet – out of Ukraine,” “Impeach Yanukovych,” “Worse than Kuchma,” “No slavery for Ukraine,” “Yanukovych – Judah of Ukraine,” “Yanukovych – anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic dictator,” and “Stop KGB!”
Russian-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych this week assured the Ukrainian Diaspora in the United States that he does not deny the existence of the communist-era famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine in 1932-33, adding that he would even order the famine documents to be declassified. Yanukovich, however, would not recognize the famine as genocide as many other countries and Ukrainian leaders have.
Previously, President Yanukovych claimed at the Council of Europe’s meeting in April that he does not think the famine should be called genocide. Instead, Yanukovych shares the Russian view that considers the famine to have taken place not only in Ukraine, but in Russia’s Volga region and Kazakhstan. The subtle perspective change attempts to shift the blame away from the Russian-based Soviet government that ruled Ukraine at the time of the famine.
In 2006, the Parliament of Ukraine formally recognized the famine as genocide. A resolution supported in 13 countries, including the United States, Poland, Australia, and Canada, did the same.
The web section on the Holodomor, the Josef Stalin-ordered famine of 1932-33 that killed millions of Ukrainians, had been removed from the official presidential website after Yanukovych’s inauguration in February. But it mysteriously re-appeared in an edited version – albeit without reference of the famine as an attempted genocide against the Ukrainian people.
LAST week Ukrainians marked the tenth anniversary of the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, an investigative journalist who had embarrassed the government. Prosecutors recently pointed the finger at the the late Yuri Kravchenko, interior minister at the time, but contemporary tape recordings, not yet authenticated, suggest that then-president Leonid Kuchma may have been involved. Such tactics were commonplace in pre-Orange Ukraine.
Kuchma recently defended himself by saying Gongadze’s murder was some sort of CIA murder/conspiracy plot out to get him.