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Archive for March, 2011

92 year-old Ukrainian Canadian track star Olga Kotelko made famous again on BBC

March 30th, 2011 No comments

Looking for Olga’s interview on the CBC’s Sunday Edition?

The BBC is running a video on 92 year-old Saskatchewan track star Olga Kotelko – the oldest long jump competitor in the world, holding 23 world records and considered one of the world’s greatest athletes:

BBC doesn’t allow embedding of their videos, click the picture to go to the video

We last heard from Olga when we covered her as an Olympic Torch bearer in Vancouver’s Winter Games last year. At around 1:17 in the video, she mentions her parents are Ukrainian.

Here’s a quick run down of the Women’s world records she holds:

  • 200 metres
  • High Jump – 2
  • Long Jump
  • Triple Jump – 2
  • Shot Put
  • Discus Throw – 3
  • Hammer Throw – 3
  • Javelin Throw – 2
  • Weight Throw
  • Throws Pentathlon – 2
  • 4×100 metres relay

It’s also worth nothing her birthday is March 2nd, 1919 – making her 92 and not 91 as the BBC article states, which I wasn’t at all impressed with:

perhaps most remarkable is that most people Olga’s age consider it an accomplishment – and exercise – simply to be breathing in and out

I hope it’s not a sign to come as the BBC deals with massive cuts.

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Weekend Watching: BBC investigates government shut down of Maidan (Independence) square

March 25th, 2011 No comments

The BBC investigates the closing down of the Maidan (Independence square) by the Yanukovych government – the home of the Orange Revolution and recently protests over unfair changes to the tax code:

BBC doesn’t allow embedding of their videos, click the picture to go to the video

While the video addresses Maidan square and even interviews Yanukovych about it, for some reason it is described (as many others on the BBC news site) as being about the Ukrainian people’s disillusionment with the Orange Revolution! The Revolution ended over a year ago, but the BBC editors for some reason do not place the spotlight instead on the current Yanukovych government leading the country into the bottom third of the world’s most corrupt countries.

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Vitali Klitschko delivers first round KO to Solis

March 21st, 2011 No comments

A very quick KO in the first round last Saturday night for Vitali Klitschko as he successfully defended against Odlanier Solis:

Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko continued the Klitschko brothers’ domination of the heavyweight division with a defense of the WBC title in front of 19,000 fans in Cologne, Germany.

Klitschko knocked out challenger Odlanier Solis in the first round to defend his title.

The 39-year-old only needed one shot to finish the bout, as he caught Solis on the temple with a grazing right hand near the end of the round.

The blow didn’t appear to be capable of producing a one-punch knockout, but the off-balance Solis wrenched his knee and couldn’t beat the count, All Headline News reports.

“I twisted my knee strangely while falling,” Solis said.

The official time was 2:59 of the first.

“I thought he was looking for a way out at first, but doctors confirmed his injury,” Klistchko said.

It was the sixth successful defense of the WBC title for Klitschko. Four of the six wins have come by knockout.

Klitschko’s brother Wladimir holds the IBF and WBO versions of the heavyweight title.

He has nine successful defenses of the IBF crown and five straight defenses of the WBO belt.

Read the article

Meanwhile the long awaited Wladimir Klitschko/David Haye bout is scheduled for July 2nd for the WBA championship and is drawing many competing bids from countries to host the event. For those of you who are confused by the five different major boxing championships, here is a quick list of who owns what:

  • WBA – David Haye
  • WBC – Vitali Klitschko
  • IBF – Wladimir Klitschko
  • WBO – Wladimir Klitschko
  • The Ring – Wladimir Klitschko

 

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As Japan approaches meltdown, reflections on Chornobyl

March 17th, 2011 No comments

As the world watches Japan teeter on the edge of meltdown in its Fukushima nuclear plant, many columnists are reflecting on previous ones including Chornobyl in Ukraine as its 25th anniversary approaches on April 26th. While many articles focus on human suffering of the event, few go deeper and acknowledge the dangerous legacy of Soviet secrecy, denial of events and even favoured evacuation that led to this tragedy:

At first, authorities denied there was a problem. When they finally admitted the truth more than a day later, many thousands of inhabitants simply picked up a few of their belongings and headed off – many of them to the capital Kiev 80 km (50 miles) to the south, never to return. Iryna Lobanova, 44, a civil servant, was due to get married in Prypyat on the day of the explosion but assumed all ceremonies would be canceled. “I thought that war had started,” she told Reuters this week. “But the local authorities told us go on with all planned ceremonies.” Nobody was allowed to leave the town until the official evacuation was announced on the Sunday” – 36 hours later – “following an order from Moscow,” she said.

The disaster and the government’s handling of it highlighted the shortcomings of the Soviet system with its unaccountable bureaucrats and entrenched culture of secrecy. Journalists subsequently uncovered evidence that the children of Communist apparatchiks had been evacuated well before others and some staff died at the plant because they had not been given orders to leave. — The official short-term death toll from the accident was 31 but many more people died of radiation-related sicknesses such as cancer. The total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate even 25 years after the disaster.

a 2009 book by a group of Russian and Belarussian scientists published by the New York Academy of Sciences argued that previous studies were misled by rigged Soviet statistics. “The official position of the Chernobyl Forum (a group of UN agencies) is that about 9,000 related deaths have occurred and some 200,000 people have illnesses caused by the catastrophe,” authors Alexei Yablokov, Vasily Nesterenko and Alexei Nesterenko wrote in “Chernobyl: Consequences of the catastrophe for people and the Environment.” “A more accurate number estimates nearly 400 million human beings have been exposed to Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout and, for many generations, they and their descendants will suffer the devastating consequences.” The authors argued that the global death toll by 2004 was closer to 1 million and said health effects included birth defects, pregnancy losses, accelerated aging, brain damage, heart, endocrine, kidney, gastrointestinal and lung diseases.

Officials say Ukraine is likely to spend billions of euros on confinement upkeep costs before it finds a way to bury the reactor components, perhaps under layers of underground granite rocks

Read the rest of the article

Some argue the downplay of the death toll is an effort to reduce neighbouring aid. And while Ukraine is left with the burden and exuberant cost of the aftermath, why is not the Soviet Union’s legal successor, Russia, not forced to share in the responsibility?

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Founder of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, Wasyl Janischewsky, passes away at 86

March 15th, 2011 No comments


Sad news as the President and founder of the UCRDC which researches and documents the Holodomor and other notable Ukrainian causes, passes away in Toronto at 86 years old:

Janischewskyj, an internationally recognized scientist and authority on lightning strikes, the long arm of Toronto’s landmark tower became his laboratory. He’d stroll or cycle along city streets between the tower and his office at the University of Toronto, this keen-eyed, lanky man with his signature goatee and wispy grey locks peppering the air behind him. He even had “sky” in his name. He died on Feb. 16 after a brief illness. He was 86.

Wasyl Janischewskyj was born Jan. 21, 1925, into a Ukrainian émigré family of professionals living in Prague. His mother, Hanna Janischewskyj, was an accomplished physician who was also active in the Ukrainian women’s movement.

His father, Ivan Janischewskyj, was an engineer and lieutenant-colonel in the Ukrainian army. His grandfather had been deputy minister of health in the government of the Ukrainian National Council and his grandmother had a PhD in history.

His family was committed to Ukrainian statehood and on the run from Stalin.

In 1982, Janischewskyj took a surprising leap into historical research. He and two other Ukrainian-Canadian men wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Holodomor, or artificial famine, imposed by the Soviet regime in 1932 and claiming seven million Ukrainian lives.

As founder and long-time president of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in Toronto, he contributed significantly to gathering archival materials including oral histories, memoirs, photographs, and government documents.

He also worked on two internationally acclaimed films: Harvest of Despair, about the forced famine, and Between Hitler and Stalin, detailing the plight of Ukrainians caught and struggling between these two dictators during the Second World War.

“[Janischewsksyj] was a product of émigré circumstances,” said historian Oriest Subtelny. “He was born in Prague but very committed to Ukrainian statehood … he has always remained true to that, but at the same time he was a very objective and productive scholar.”

Janischewskyj retired from the university at age 65 because they made him. But he never stopped working. His son, Markel, visited his father at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital a few weeks ago. “Call me at the university,” said Janischewskyj. Reminding him that he was actually in the hospital, his father eyed a sheaf of files and with a smile said, “Yes, yes, as I said – call me here at my office at the university!”

With an unquenchable thirst for reading, Janischewskyj got through the entire Stieg Larsson Millennium series last month, said his daughter, Roxolana Martin. And on his birthday they moved a couple of card tables into the hospital room for an impromptu bridge tournament. He won.

Read the rest of the article

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