September 22, 2010

The SUSTA Protests against Ukraine’s President Yanukovich in New York

I didn’t blog for some time. But Ukraine is getting more interesting with every day since Mr. Yanukovich became Ukraine’s president. Today I received a message on Facebook from the SUSTA – The Federation of the Ukrainian Student Organizations of America. Today the SUSTA members will protest against Mr. Yanukovich’s visit to New York. The Ukrainian Weekly will feature their demonstration. Here is a message:

On the occasion of today’s visit by the newly-appointed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich, members of SUSTA - the Federation of Ukrainian Student Organizations of America (Союз Українських Студентських Товариств Америки), along with the Ukrainian-American community and the worldwide Ukrainian diaspora would like to share with you our deepest concerns regarding the recent anti-democratic developments in Ukraine.

In the recent months since his election into office, the pro-Russian President has taken alarming steps to compromise Ukraine’s national identity and sovereignty. To name just a few:
•the unconstitutional extension of the lease for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea;
•the rising dependence on Russia to provide for Ukraine’s security and stability which poses a definite threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty;
•the denial of Holodomor as an act of genocide and its removal from the official presidential website;
•recent censorship of the press, targeting several independent Ukrainian television stations;
•the new government’s move to control the judicial system by granting the president power over the hiring and firing of judges; and,
•the non-bloc status of Ukraine, which threatens Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and future NATO membership

As if these were not enough, certain parliamentarians of President Yanukovich's Party of Regions, together with some satellite parties, appointed a controversial figure by the name of Dmitri Tabachnik as the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine. Sadly, Mr. Tabachnik is widely known for his anti-Ukrainian, anti-democratic, pro-Russian, xenophobic attitude towards ethnic Ukrainians, especially to those living in the Western part of the country. In some of his statements, he has specifically formulated discriminatory wording which is comparable to that used by the Nazi propaganda with respect to the Jewish people during WWII. In fact, he proceeded to follow policies which diminish the Ukrainian language on the national level (i.e. cancelling university examinations in the Ukrainian language, issuing decrees to cease movie translations in Ukrainian, intimidating and arresting university faculty and students for simply exercising their democratic rights, etc)…

It is hard for us all to observe Mr. Yanykovich’s and Mr. Tabachnik’s current reversals of the former President Victor Yushchenko’s democratic policies. It seems that the current administration’s damaging political actions reflect the refusal to acknowledge Ukraine as an independent country and threaten the very existence of Ukraine as a young democratic nation. As citizens of the Ukrainian-American community (and the world Ukrainian community at large), we are greatly disturbed by these recent anti-democratic policies of Mr. Yanukovich, his newly-appointed government and parliamentary counterparts. As proud Ukrainians, we firmly uphold and vehemently defend a strong, self-sufficient, independent state where Ukrainians are free to express their opinions, are cognizant of their culture and history and are proud of their unique heritage!

The time is NOW! We cannot allow President Yanukovych to threaten Ukraine's freedom any longer!!! We must defend Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty!

We would like to thank all of you for joining us here today to voice your own concerns regarding the future of Ukraine as a country, its independence and the plight of its people. It is up to each one of us…

Sincerely yours,
Vera A. Partem, SUSTA 2010-2011 President and Executive Director
Olya Yaruchkivska, SUSTA 2010-2011 Vice President
Roksolana Starodub, SUSTA 2010-2011 Treasurer
Ostap Tymchyk, SUSTA 2010-2011 Secretary

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