All posts by luba

‘Hero of Ukraine’ Award to Stepan Bandera Is Revoked [Article]

While this one slipped through the cracks of the news cycle a few weeks ago it’s certainly still worth mentioning – from the New York Times:

President Viktor F. Yanukovich of Ukraine announced Wednesday that a national award bestowed on one of the most divisive figures in the country’s modern history — a leader of the Ukrainian partisans during World War II — had been officially revoked.


The award dispute reflects the longstanding geographic schism in Ukraine and its impact on the nation’s politics. Mr. Bandera, who was assassinated by the K.G.B. in 1959 in West Germany, where he lived in exile, is revered in western Ukraine as a patriot who led the struggle for independence from the Soviet Union and Poland. But he is reviled in other, more pro-Russian regions as a Nazi collaborator. European and Jewish groups have called him a fascist who condoned massacres of Jews and Poles.


Mr. Bandera’s supporters have argued that he never had a close relationship with the Nazis, pointing out that he was later detained by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp.

Mr. Yanukovich had the award canceled through the courts, not through a presidential decree, apparently deciding that such a method would be less provocative. In Ukraine, as in much of the former Soviet Union, the judicial system tends to have little independence, and typically follows the will of the executive branch.

With support from the new president, a Ukrainian lawyer last spring convinced a court to revoke the award, and subsequent appeals courts have upheld the decision, officials said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yanukovich’s office indicated in a statement that the judicial process had ended and that the award was formally annulled.

The statement did not offer further comment. But Mr. Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, denounced Mr. Yanukovich for “attempts to rewrite the history of Ukraine and to belittle — in order to please Moscow — the heroes of the Ukrainian people.”

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Top posts of 2010

It’s been a great year for the site, so I’ve put together a quick list of the most popular posts of 2010:

10. UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) veteran stops break-in of his home in New York

A former soldier in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, known for fighting both the Nazis and the Soviets for a free and independent Ukraine in World War 2 made the news recently in  New York, stopping an intruder from breaking into his home.


“I was in the Ukrainian underground,” he said. “I was 14. We fought the Germans and the Russians.”

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9. Ukrainian-born Torontonian on ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’

  This year’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ was treated to two Ukrainian Canadians – Denys Drozdyuk and Jeff Mortensen:

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.


Gymnastics became his mainstay until his aunt, who Jeff calls a “hardcore Ukrainian,” pushed him towards Ukrainian dance. From that point on, Jeff says “the rest was history.”

Jeff’s dedicated enthusiasm for Ukrainian dance has created some exciting opportunities and also a few additional stamps in his passport. Performing on several tours with the Ukrainian dance company Shumka has meant stops as far as China, and in 2007, Jeff signed a contract with the captivating circus/dance company Cirque du Soleil as one of the main character’s in the Beatles LOVE show in Las Vegas. 

Amazingly both men were finalists in this year’s competition, but ultimately only one could win and that was Denys Drozdyuk

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8. A Ukrainian Canadian Julia Child and more: Savella Stechishin

Don’t forget there was a Ukrainian Canadian version who paved the way for her prairie peers with her own brand of Ukrainian cooking, art, history and grammar books more than half a century ago. She led an amazing life, heading up many womens’ organizations and stressing the importance of health and nutrition. She has had so many accomplishments in her life I couldn’t find the time to summarize them all!

Shechishin’s most prominent book is the English-language Traditional Ukrainian Cookery (1957), which saw its eighteenth reprinting in 1995 and has sold 80,000 copies. Her other books are in Ukrainian: Art Treasures of Ukrainian Embroidery (1950), and a 50th anniversary book for the Saskatoon branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association (1975). She assisted her husband, Julian Stechishin, with a Ukrainian Grammar (1951), and completed his History of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada (1971) after his death—an English translation was published in 1992.

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7. Happy 19th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence

Ukraine celebrated it’s 19th anniversary of independence today, below are some news stories coming out of the wire


How can Presidential powers be relinquished for pro-Western President Yushchenko, and then be asked to be returned for pro-Russian President Yanukovych. In addition to that he wants the Constitution reformed (gutted) for a Chinese style one-party government that eliminates the opposition and leaves the door wide open for a return to Communism – on the 19th anniversary of the country’s independence!

Meanwhile a Kharkiv reporter critical about authorities has been missing and feared dead for two weeks now, as freedom of the press, speech and to organize have been under attack under this regime.

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6. Former UCC Alberta President, ex-MLA Dave Broda dies in car crash

Former Redwater MLA Dave Broda was killed in a road accident Sunday night.


It is known that Broda attended a barbecue dinner near Mundare earlier Sunday evening. The event was sponsored by the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.

"He was significantly involved in his community in many ways. He was a proud Canadian-Ukrainian," said Brian Gifford, chairman of Alberta’s Surface Rights Board.


In 2002, when he was the chairman of the Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations, Broda joined Klein on a five-day mission to Ukraine. It was the first official visit made by an Alberta premier to the eastern European country.

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5. An introduction to Ukrainian New Years – Malanka!

It’s on January 13th – but what is it all about?

Malanka is a Ukrainian folk holiday celebrated on January 13th, which is New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar. Malanka commemorates the feast day of St. Melania. On this night in Ukraine, carolers traditionally went from house to house playing pranks or acting out a small play (similar to “Vertep” — see above), with a bachelor dressed in women’s clothing leading the troop. Malanka caps off the festivities of the Christmas holidays, and is often the last opportunity for partying before the solemn period of Lent which precedes Easter.

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4. The last secret of WW2: Operation Keelhaul – Betrayal of the Cossacks in Lienz

A little-known story of betrayal and treachery during Operation Keelhaul at the end of WWII will be revealed to Canadians by Professor Doctor Harald Stadler and author Anthony Schlega.


The Lienz Cossacks were ‘white Russians’ who’d fought bitterly against communism and the rise of the Soviet Union following the Russian Revolution. During the Second World War, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Lienz Cossacks sided with the Nazis in order to try the topple the communist regime and bring ‘freedom’ to their country.

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3. Are ‘Ukrainian Christmas’ and ‘Ukrainian Easter’ coming to an end?

Growing up in Canada, if you mentioned you celebrate Christmas in January most people assumed you celebrated ‘Ukrainian Christmas’ (there are over a million Canadians of Ukrainian descent). Nowadays with the rise of immigration from the Baltics and Russia they assume you celebrate ‘Orthodox Christmas’, but this label is incorrect because many Canadians whose descendants came from Western Ukraine are Catholic, even when they celebrate their holidays on a different day (I’m looking at you Canadian Press).

I don’t agree with trying to ‘unify’ these holidays for whatever purpose (convenience or control?). Ukrainian churches have enough on their plate, the Orthodox are trying not to be absorbed by the Orthodox Russian church, and Catholics have been re-establishing themselves after being exiled in Soviet times. In Canada, the new Bishop of St. Mary’s Dormition Catholic Church in Mississauga, Ontario is trying to make the push to towards the new dates, against the wishes of his clergy and parishioners. What do you think?

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2. Gearing up for Ukrainian Christmas 2011

For some Ukrainian Canadians and Americans, Christmas was celebrated on Sunday – but the majority are still preparing to celebrate on the traditional date of January 7th. If you’re a little unclear on the details why or want a refresher on what to serve feel free to read up on our very popular Introduction to Ukrainian Christmas. And while the malls may not play ’Carol of the Bells’ anymore, you should know it’s a Ukrainian song! As well you can download some Ukrainian Christmas music for your holiday enjoyment. If you need some additional inspiration, check out some photos of a traditional Christmas meal.

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1. An introduction to Ukrainian Christmas

Many Ukrainian families and many Ukrainian churches continue to observe the old traditional date of Ukrainian Christmas on January 7 despite the pressures of modern society to change. The later date appeals to many people since, after the commercialism of December 25th, it is possible to enjoy a quieter and more religious occasion. For those who leave their shopping for the last minute the big advantage in celebrating Ukrainian Christmas is that the big sales start – just in time for Christmas shopping.

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