Archive for March, 2012

Weekend catchup: March 30

March 30th, 2012 No comments

Here are a collection of news items that I didn’t get a chance to write posts about this week:

Ukrainian woman whose rape caused protests dies

An 18-year-old Ukrainian woman who prosecutors say was gang-raped, half-strangled and then set on fire in an attack that sparked street protests in a provincial Ukrainian town, has died, a hospital official said on Thursday. Hundreds of people took to the streets earlier this month after police released two of Oksana Makar’s three suspected attackers whose parents had political connections, re-igniting a public debate on corruption in the ex-Soviet republic. Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed earlier this month that the parents of at least one of the three suspects were former government officials in the Mykolaiv region.


What Goes on in There?: Taras H. Shevchenko Museum

the two-storey building that houses Toronto’s

Taras H. Shevchenko Museum is a cultural oasis, wedged incongruously between a dentist’s office and an employment agency. Inside, visitors will find a two-storey homage to Shevchenko, a 19th-century Ukrainian poet, artist, and rebel. The museum’s original location north of Oakville was damaged by arson in 1988. In 2001, its three-metre bronze statue of Shevchenko was sawed down and stolen by hooligans. Only the head was returned, when a Hamilton antique dealer tried to sell it back to the museum last November, apparently unaware of its criminal origins


Child coal mining film banned at Kyiv festival

After scooping 10 awards at international festivals, a Ukrainian-Estonian documentary on child labor in abandoned mines finally made it home to Ukraine. It was scheduled to premiere at an international documentary festival on March 24. But instead, in a bizarre and unprecedented turn of events, “Pit Number 8” was banned by its own Ukrainian producer.

I actually had the opportunity to see the film last year at HotDocs, and it shows the grim life of people who work the dangerous coal mines – the heart of Yanukovych’s fan base. The entire movie is up on YouTube.


The Economist has the worst style guide when it comes to Ukraine

Style guides are used by newspapers to ensure the same guidelines are used by multiple journalists referring to the same thing, but I was completely shocked by what they have in their entry for Ukrainian names:

Since Ukrainian has no g, use h: Hryhory, Heorhy, Ihor (not Grigory, Georgy, Igor). Exception: Georgy Gongadze.

There very much exists ‘g’ in Ukrainian, it’s ґ, and ‘h’ is г. Conversely in Russian there is no ‘h’, just ‘g’ which is г . So a Ukrainian ‘h’ is a Russian ‘g’ which is why sometimes you’ll see golubtsi instead of holubtsi, and Golodomor instead of Holodomor.

Use the familiar British renderings of placenames: Chernigov not Chernihiv, Kiev not Kyiv, Lvov not Lviv, and Odessa not Odesa.

Those Soviet spellings went out decades ago. The Economist likes to think if you disagree then ‘it’s time to get a life’.


Anti-advertising for Euro 2012: We’re going to Ukraine

“Are you finally taking me to Paris?” “Better… we’re going to Ukraine!”



It’s April 8th 2012 for the Gregorian Calendar (ie. the Western world). For the rest of us who follow the Julian Calendar it’s April 15th.


Inside Ukrainian Dance

A local author takes us behind the colourful curtain of Ukrainian Dance. In his book, Dr. Andriy Nahachewsky explores the differences between what the audience sees on stage…and what would happen in a small Ukrainian village.


Baba’s medicine

We’re stepping back in time for some medical remedies Baba used in her kitchen. It’s all in a new book by a local author.

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Demjanjuk update: German law leaves him innocent after death

March 27th, 2012 4 comments

It’s not being publicized as much as his death, but John Demjanjuk’s vindication may have come as the result of his passing last week:

Munich state court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said this week that under German law, Demjanjuk is “still technically presumed innocent,” because he died before his final appeal could be heard, and “a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Asked by Haaretz if that means there is no record of Demjanjuk’s conviction, Noetzel replied, “Yes, it means Mr. Demjanjuk has no criminal record.”

Since Demjanjuk’s conviction cannot be validated legally, due to his death, the conviction remains “merely as an historic fact,” Noetzel said.

Demjanjuk’s German lawyer, Dr. Ulrich Busch, told Haaretz that the Munich court published the statement regarding his client’s presumed innocence at his demand.

“After my client’s death, a false statement was distributed to the effect that Mr. Demjanjuk died as a convicted war criminal,” Busch told Haaretz in an exchange of e-mails. “The German and international media accepted this version and sullied my client, portraying him as one who led 28,000 people to the gas chambers.”

Busch said he demanded the legal authorities in Germany issue a clarification saying his client “died innocent and without conviction,” and that his conviction by a lower court “is invalid.

“The statement issued now clears my client’s name and restores his dignity,” he said.

“It’s a great consolation to his family, which is grieving over the loss of a husband and father, who died alone in far away Germany,” Busch added.

Good news for Demjanjuk’s family, as now they face a new hurdle in attempting to give him his final resting place in Ohio:

Efraim Zuroff, who leads the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, believes funeral in his adopted hometown would turn into a spectacle

He said: ‘I have no doubt that a funeral in Seven Hills would turn into a demonstration of solidarity and support for Demjanjuk, who’s the last person on earth who deserves any sympathy, frankly.’

Unfortunately for German law, the verdict remains and leaves the new and dangerous precedent:

The Demjanjuk judgment set a major precedent as this was the first time a German court convicted someone solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of being involved in a specific killing

Sixty years after the end of World War II, Demjanjuk was one of a handful of living Nazi prison camp guards who can still be brought to trial. After years of reluctance, German authorities are now racing to bring the others to trial.

The so-called ‘evidence’ of him being a camp guard was being appealed, as even an FBI agent concluded the only piece of evidence (which came from the KGB of all places) was a fake. Will the new precedent be used to prosecute top-ranking Nazi officials? No – many of them were exonerated and even participated in the new government of a ‘free’ Germany:

A total of 25 cabinet ministers, one president and one chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany — as postwar Germany is officially known — had been members of Nazi organizations

For years, the notion that partisans of the Nazi regimes were able to manipulate their way into the top levels of government in the young federal republic, and that former Nazi Party members set the tone in a country governed by the postwar constitution in the 1950s and 60s has been a subject for historians.

Just how brown — the color most associated with the Nazis — were the first years of postwar West Germany?



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Toronto Sun slams “Ukraine at the Crossroads?” conference

March 21st, 2012 No comments

An odd, bitter piece was published in the Toronto Sun last weekend, dismissing the efforts of the Ukrainian community’s recent “Ukraine at the Crossroads?” conference that discussed democracy, human rights,  law and freedom in Ukraine.

often involving some of the same “experts” — was the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Again, they rehashed what to do about the loss of democratic reforms that jeopardize Ukraine’s ties with Europe.

A very dismissive tone by veteran author Peter Worthington, who concludes the Ukrainian Canadian cause is ultimately futile: too far away to help Ukraine against neighbouring Russia’s growing totalitarianism:

Now that Ukraine is an independent country, but still economically, socially and culturally dependent on Russia in ways that Belarus is, it cannot escape Russian paranoia about its desire to identify more closely with Europe.

The UCC is aggressive and vibrant, but it’s difficult seeing them having much influence on Russian policies.

After the presidential election in Russia, it’s likely that Vladimir Putin is going to be the guy in charge until about 2024 if he so wishes — and if he lasts.

If, indeed, it is at a crossroads as the title of its recent Ottawa conference suggests, it is stalled at the crossroads — paralyzed between east and west, unable to advance until one side or the other blinks. Which neither shows any sign of doing. Yet.

It’s a troubling article, because it offers the reader no real background or information on the issues and ultimately makes up the readers mind for them.

The Canadian Standing Committee wants to send an observer team to Ukraine for elections due in October. How may times have we heard similar proposals for elections in Africa and other sensitive spots in the world? And how often has such monitoring affected the outcome of elections? Not often.

Read the article

Worthington seems to forget the Orange Revolution, it was largely initiated by the international election observers who were able to hold up democratic rules that voided a fraudulent election.

For those who weren’t able to attend the conference, here are some pictures and reports from it:

Statements and Speeches

Photos and Recaps

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John Demjanjuk, who battled accusations he was Nazi camp guard, dies at 91 [Article]

March 17th, 2012 No comments

John Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. autoworker who was convicted of being a guard at the Nazis’ Sobibor death camp despite steadfastly maintaining over three decades of legal battles that he had been mistaken for someone else died Saturday, his son told The Associated Press. He was 91.

From The Chronicle Herald:

John Demjanjuk Jr. said in a telephone interview from Ohio that his father died in the night of natural causes. Demjanjuk had terminal bone marrow disease, chronic kidney disease and other ailments.

“My father fell asleep with the Lord as a victim and survivor of Soviet and German brutality since childhood,” Demjanjuk Jr. said. “He loved life, family and humanity. History will show Germany used him as a scapegoat to blame helpless Ukrainian POWs for the deeds of Nazi Germans.”

His conviction helped set new German legal precedent, being the first time someone was convicted solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of being involved in a specific killing.

Despite his conviction, his family never gave up its battle to have his U.S. citizenship reinstated so that he could live out his final days nearby them in the Cleveland area. One of their main arguments was that the defence had never seen a 1985 FBI document, uncovered in early 2011 by The Associated Press, calling into question the authenticity of a Nazi ID card used against him.

Though there are no known witnesses who remember Demjanjuk from Sobibor, prosecutors referred to an SS identity card that they said features a photo of a young, round-faced Demjanjuk and that says he worked at the death camp. That and other evidence indicating Demjanjuk had served under the SS convinced the panel of judges in Munich, and led to his conviction.

Demjanjuk, who was removed by U.S. immigration agents from his home in suburban Cleveland and deported in May 2009, questioned the evidence in the German case, saying the identity card was possibly a Soviet postwar forgery.

He reiterated his contention that after he was captured in Crimea in 1942, he was held prisoner until joining the Vlasov Army — a force of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others formed to fight with the Germans against the Soviets in the final months of the war.

In connection with the allegation, he was extradited to Israel from the U.S. in 1986 to stand trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, convicted and sentenced to death. But the Israeli Supreme Court in 1993 overturned the verdict on appeal, saying that evidence showed another Ukrainian man was actually “Ivan the Terrible,” and ordered him returned to the U.S.

Demjanjuk later said he lied about his wartime activities to avoid being sent back to Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union. Just to have admitted being in the Vlasov Army would also have been enough to have him barred from emigration to the U.S. or many other countries.

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Stalin’s genocide on Parks & Rec

March 15th, 2012 No comments

On a recent episode of Parks & Rec, Leslie mentions Stalin’s genocide. Stalin has only ever been accused of one genocide: the Holodomor. Subtle, but we’ll take it!

Parks and Rec: Recognizing Stalin’s Genocide from Andrew UkrCdn on Vimeo.

Personally, I think Parks & Rec has overtaken The Office as the funniest comedy on Thursdays. I am also excited Community is coming back tonight!

Categories: holodomor, tv Tags: