Thursday, January 31, 2008

American book accuses Ukrainian Canadian of being a Russian spy

I don't generally like to get political on this blog but being a writer ... a big ballyhoo about a book that reflects on the Ukrainian community will invariably be discussed here, even if it involves politics.

So. The US publisher of the book Comrade J has halted shipments to Canada, citing "legal considerations." Now isn't that interesting. (They might have saved themselves a lot of grief had they been more careful in separating fiction from fact, a problem fellow author Dan Brown ran into. But that's another story.)

What caught my interest is what appears to be the character assassination of a Ukrainian Canadian politician and community activist who seems to have a penchant for taking unpopular stands and asking inconvenient questions of the government... not least of all about Herbert Norman, a Canadian ambassador suspected of being a Communist sympathizer and whose demise remains shrouded in mystery.

The book is, not surprisingly, meeting with huge skepticism on this side of the border, although south of the '49 it seems to be regarded as gospel, largely due to the author's credentials.

I wonder if the author, credentials notwithstanding, simply didn't familiarize himself sufficiently with Canadian history and politics, not to mention certain dynamics within Canadian society that never seem to factor into the plans of our country's opinion-makers. Mind you, it's possible he did, but, of course, everything can't go into a book, so an author has to be selective.

According to this article in the Toronto Star:

The book alleges that [former Conservative MP] Alex Kindy provided information that wound up in numerous spy cables in return for thousands of dollars in cash. It says Kindy, codenamed Grey, was recruited in 1992 by Vitali Domoratski, a vice-consul actually working in counter-intelligence for the Russians from their embassy in Ottawa. ...

[The author] acknowledges that Kindy — a strident anti-Communist — was an unlikely mark for the SVR, the post-Cold War successor to the Soviet Union’s ruthless KGB. However, Domoratski reportedly thought Kindy was vulnerable because he needed cash for his re-election campaign. ...

Kindy is remembered as a blustery and oft-quoted maverick on Parliament Hill and an outspoken foe of Communism.

He was also critical of government efforts to prosecute Eastern Europeans for alleged Nazi war crimes. Kindy and another Tory MP, Andrew Witer, ... expressed concern at the time that politically motivated witch hunts would masquerade as the legitimate pursuit of international justice.


Of course, the book is about more than just Kindy. In fact, it implicates the United Nations as well as the United States. Nor does Russia get an easy ride, and understandably doesn't seem any too pleased about it either.

The National Post's article sheds a bit of light on the book's central figure ... who, no doubt, is chortling all the way to the bank.

Mr. Tretyakov turned double-agent in 1997 ... Citing a loss of faith in post-Soviet Russia, he spent three years turning over secrets to the United States before defecting.

Since Mr. Tretyakov changed sides, the U.S. government has set his family up. His wife likes to paint and drive her Porsche, and he enjoys watching television shows such as Seinfeld and driving his Lexus. Despite the luxuries, he told the author: "I don't care about money. No publisher alive has enough money to pay me for what I know. I am worth millions because I am Russian intelligence."

Indeed. Living in the lap of luxury and being able to skewer the world's major political entities? Priceless!

UPDATE: Some intrepid reporters at the Globe & Mail have been doing a bit of digging (which perhaps Mr. Earley should have done?) and has unearthed a few, um, inconsistencies shall we say, in the claims of this million-dollar spy. Who, interestingly enough, doesn't seem terribly anxious to substantiate them.

... Mr. Tretyakov has become noticeably less chatty with the Canadian media. He declined, through his publisher, a lengthy sit-down interview with The Globe and refused to answer specific questions during his brief telephone interview.

"I'm a professional intelligence officer - don't try to approach me from different angles," he said shortly before slipping into his next interview.

In other words, "Oh #$%^&* ... Busted!"

Full article here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Speaking of spelling... it's Hopak, not Gopak!!

Sigh.

I'd send a letter to the editor ... but sometimes a body gets discouraged. I just shook my head when I read this:

... Within a few years, Moiseyev formed a company of 100 dancers ... The company has toured over sixty countries and is internationally recognized as the premier folk dance company in the world. Just as famous today are the signature dances Moiseyev choreographed for his ensemble, which include the Ukrainian "Gopak," [sic] ...

When will people who should know better accept the fact that there is no such thing as a Ukrainian gopak and stop referring to it incorrectly?

It should be fairly easy to grasp. The word hopak (гопак) is derived from the Ukrainian verb "hopaty" (гопати) which means "to jump." Anyone see a "g" in hopaty??

To make it even more clear (hopefully), in Ukrainian, if there was such a word as "gopak" it would be spelled ґопак. And no, there is no such word in the Ukrainian language as ґопати.

So, to recap, it is гопак which comes from гопати. Spelled properly with "г" not "ґ." They are two different letters, and two different sounds. In both Ukrainian and English.

Now, anyone reading this who has ever called this dance a gopak, can you please say: "It's hopak, which comes from the verb "hopaty." There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Calling it "gopak" is too ridiculous for words ... and IMO insisting on doing so is just utterly plebeian.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monopoly vote update - Jan 29

Current standings (at 11:16 PST today) in the top 20 cities votes for the new global version of Monopoly (go here for the full list):

#1 - Paris
#2 - London
#3 - New York
#6 - Montreal
#13 - Vancouver
#19 - Toronto
#23 - Kyiv (they've fixed the spelling... kudos!)
#24 - Moscow
#25 - Istanbul
#28 - Jerusalem
#29 - Vienna

Kyiv is moving up so make sure to continue doing your bit to get it into the top 20, and keep it there! Go here to vote.

Vancouver audio archives updated to Jan. 27

Audio archives for Nash Holos are now available on the Nash Holos website.

On Ukrainian Food Flair, Sylvia Pidraziuk Molnar has some fascinating facts about that quintessential Ukie veggie (kaputa) and another yummy recipe. On Travel Tips, Myrna Arychuk of Solaway Travel has details on an upcoming Best of Eastern Europe tour.

As usual, the Proverb of the Week and other items of interest to the Ukrainian community in the Lower Mainland ... and beyond.

And of course, plenty of Great Ukrainian music! Another musical Ukrainian language lesson, dance favourites, folk tunes and some new tunes, including our CD of the Week, a compilation CD called Українська Сучасна Лірична Пісня, sent to us courtesty Oleh Skrypka of V-V.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jan 27 Recipe - Cabbage with Tomatoes

Here's this week's recipe... the audio clip that aired on Nash Holos is available at the NH website from now until the next program update.

1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter or bacon fat
3 Tbsp water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp sour cream
salt & freshly ground pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1. Saute the onion in a large frying pan until tender.
2. Add the cabbage and water and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the cabbage is tender but still slightly crisp.
3. In another pan, melt the butter or bacon fat. Add the flour, stir to blend, and add the tomatoes and sugar.
4. Cook until the sauce thickens.
5. Add the sour cream and season to taste.
6. Combine the sauce with the sabbage and bring to a boil.
7. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavours.

Try it ... it's Ukrainian!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Monopoly vote update

Current standings (at 9:21 PST today) in the top 20 cities votes for the new global version of Monopoly (go here for the full list):

#2 - London
#3 - New York
#11 - Montreal
#17 - Vancouver
#21 - Toronto
#22 - Moscow
#24 - Istanbul
#27 - Jerusalem
#28 - Vienna
#29 - Kiev [sic]

Go here to vote and see the full list of 68 cities. bump up Kyiv from #29 into the top 20, and keep it there! www.monopoly.com

Then, starting March 1, we can all jump on the lousy spellers at Hasbro (and whereever else)! ;-)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Good news for Zabava Hour fans

Someone emailed me recently saying that the Zabava Hour archives were no longer on the RJs Tours website.

So I checked and, sure enough, it's not there anymore. No real surprise as the program's former host, the late RJ Tomkins, passed the mic to Steven Chwok shortly before he left us.

The good news is that the Zabava Hour is still available online, just in a different place!

There is a gorgeous photo and really nice write-up of Steven Chwok in the DJ list on the CFCW site here. You can also get archives of the most current program there as well. (Links on the Nash Holos blog and website have been updated accordingly.)

So enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan. 22 - a day of celebration or sorrow for Ukrainians?

Will Zuzak of Edmonton wrote in the Edmonton Journal on Jan. 22:

Ever since I was a child, our family always celebrated Jan. 22, 1918, as Ukrainian Independence Day. That was the day the Ukrainian government, under Simon Petliura, declared independence from the collapsing Tsarist Russian Empire.

Unfortunately, Ukraine was soon conquered by the Bolshevik Red Army and incorporated into the Soviet Union, and Petliura was assassinated in 1926.

It was not until 1991 that Ukraine regained its independence - hopefully, for good.

However, from secret documents declassified in Ukraine recently, we learn that ... on Jan. 22, 1933, Josef Stalin issued his infamous decree to seal the borders of Ukraine to prevent starving peasants from entering Belarus or Russia in search of food - thus ensuring the deaths by starvation of some 10 million people. ...

One wonders if Stalin and his entourage took particular satisfaction in destroying the Ukrainian nation exactly 15 years after its initial declaration of independence? So in 2008, should Ukrainians celebrate or mourn today's anniversary?

A very good question. IMO, I would think Jan. 22 should be observed in the context of both, together.

Because, really, it's time to move on. As the author pointed out, in 1991 Ukraine achieved sovereignty and independence. Since then the country has, albeit in fits and starts (and certainly not without controversy), been taking its place on the world stage.

It makes a lot more sense to celebrate Ukrainian independence on August 24, the day in 1991 that the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR approved “The Bill of Independence Announcement of Ukraine.” Or perhaps even December 1, when a referendum confirmed the bill and sealed the deal.

As for January 22, perhaps it would be wise to still observe it annually, but to shift the focus. Acknowledge both the historical political signifiance of this date and its sinister overtones ... with a firm resolve to never forget, nor allow future generations to forget or ignore, the historic implications of the world's complicity in the subsequent death of so many millions of Ukrainians.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kiev - a long time gone...

I think it is just great that Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly, are including the capital of Ukraine in their contest to choose the cities for the first World edition of the game.

Unfortunately, they spelled the name wrong. They use the old soviet-era (and imperialist-era) spelling, Kiev, which was officially changed to Kyiv in 1991. Unbelievable. That's a really long time ago.

So how is it that there was no problem embracing name changes for cities like Beijing (Peking), Mumbai (Bombay) and Istanbul (Constantinople) ... yet after nearly 2 decades there's still resistance to accepting that Kiev is now spelled Kyiv?

I mean, it's not rocket surgery. We're talking about changing "e" to "y" and moving the "i" over one space ... not exactly a huge challenge, is it? I dunno, maybe the problem is that it's too easy for the obtuse?

I wonder what it would take ... does someone need to record a hit song and post the lyrics and a YouTube video online before people get it? How about something like ...

It's not spelled Kiev
It's now spelled K-Y-I-V
It's been 17 years
That smart folks have spelled it right
Been a long time changed,
This Ukrainian delight
So do ya want a fight, or will you finally get it right?

(With apologies to composers Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon, and The Four Lads who did the original hit version.)

Maybe that would do the trick. But, only time will tell. (How much more time remains to be seen...)

All kidding aside, tho, in the final analysis it's a minor detail that can be fixed. (I'm sure the good folks at Hasbro will not want any spelling errors in the product they send to market!)

So in the meantime, some of us are smart enough to know that the Kiev in the contest is in fact Kyiv in reality. So go cast your vote. It's an incredible, beautiful city and deserves to be included.

Go here to vote. You can vote daily (for up to 10 cities) until the votes are tallied on Feb. 29.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monopoly vote

The popular board game Monopoly is apparently going global ... a very reliable source in Ukraine has told me that Kyiv is one of the cities being considered for its first global edition, World Monopoly. (Let's just hope they get the spelling right!)

The finalists will apparently be chosen according to the results of an online vote at the Monopoly website. Straw poll open January 22-Feb. 28. Out of 68 choices, 20 cities will be selected. There will also be a vote for 2 Wildcard cities.

For details and to vote, go here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jan. 20 Recipe - Beets with Garlic & Mushrooms

Тhis week's recipe... which you can hear from now until next Sunday's program update at the Nash Holos website:

Beets with Garlic & Mushrooms

1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ cup sunflower or olive oil
4 cups beets, cooked and shredded or julienned
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp vinegar
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Step 1. Fry onions in oil over medium heat until soft.
Step 2. Add in the beets and mushrooms.
Step 3. Continue to cook, stirring until mushrooms are tender.
Step 4. Lower heat and mix in sugar, salt, garlic, vinegar, and pepper.
Step 5. Stir for a few minutes, then remove from heat.

Serve hot as a side dish or cold as a salad. Delicious either way!

Try it ... it's Ukrainian!

Vancouver audio archives updated to Jan. 20

Audio archives for Nash Holos and Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) are now available on the Nash Holos website.

On Ukrainian Food Flair, Sylvia Pidraziuk Molnar has some fascinating facts about chasynk and a yummy recipe. On Travel Tips, Myrna Arychuk of Solaway Travel has details on her upcoming pilgrimage tour, Shrines of Italy.

As usual, the Proverb of the Week and other items of interest to the Ukrainian community in the Lower Mainland ... and beyond.

And of course, plenty of Great Ukrainian music! Nash Holos Ukrainian Language School is back in session (hint: you will need your dancing boots) and our CD of the Week is Volyn Ukrainian Song & Dance Company - Смутний Вечір, Смутний Ранок.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus seeking new conductor

After almost twelve years at its artistic helm, Oleh Mahlay will be stepping down as Artistic Director and Conductor of the internationally renowned Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (UBC) at the end of the 2007-2008 concert season.

UBC President Murha said, "It should be noted that Maestro Mahlay looks forward to returning to the UBC one day and that his stepping down is a personal decision, not organizational."

During his time as Conductor, Mahlay has worked with the President of the UBC, Anatoli Murha, for over eight years. Working together, they released five diverse recordings, organized tours, concerts and special events throughout North America, Europe and Ukraine.

A search committee has been formed to identify candidates, interview them and make recommendations to the membershipfor final decision. (According to the by-laws of the UBC, the active membership must vote for the conductor.)

"It is our intent to have a new conductor in place and working with the membership on or before September 1, 2008, " said Murha.

More information at their website here.

Odessa's Italian roots - exhibit in Toronto on till March 8

The Robarts Research Library at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with the Istituo Italiano di Cultura, presents the exhibit Transplanting Italy: The Story Of Italian Migration To The Black Sea (1794-1894). It opened Tuesday Jan. 15 and will remain on display until March 8.

On display are archival documents and images (many for the first time) pertaining to the little-known 18th-century invited mass migration to the Black Sea. The foundation of the seaport of Odessa (1794) by these Italian settlers created unique cultural consequences for the Russian South, the former USSR and modern-day Ukraine.

Thanks to its Italian founders, the city of Odessa historical architecture has a flavour more Mediterranean than Slavic. The city was officially founded in 1794, as a Russian naval fortress and was renamed Odessa by January 1795. By the 19th-century, Odessa had become a prestigious international operatic stage, a small "cultural mecca" for artists, and one of the first modern multicultural societies.

The exhibit is supported also by the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Canadian Studies, Department of Italian Studies-University of Toronto and the Petro Jacyk Centre at the Robarts Library.

More information on the exhibit can be found here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Calling all classical Ukrainian musicians...

(Click image to enlarge)

If you're an amateur musician or with a performing group looking for a bit of extra cash and another venue to strut your stuff, here's a music competition in Hamilton, Ontario looking for applicants.

The organizers tell me that last year's competition was very successful ... and tons of fun!

Email them today!

Awesome Ukrainian New Years tune

Pikkardijska Tercija performs "Malanka" ... Absolutely delightful!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Race card being played against Ukrainian Canadians

I was absolutely astounded at this article published in the Edmonton Sun last Monday, Jan 14.

Four years after saying it would amend cemetery laws, the Alberta government has done nothing to protect unregistered aboriginal and pioneer burial grounds, critics said today.

In 2003, the province told Sun Media the Cemeteries Act required amendment “specifically” to deal with more than 230 unregistered cemeteries across Alberta, many at the former sites of aboriginal communities ...

It smacks of racism ... said the Indian Association of Alberta...

“I don’t like to throw the ‘r’ word around because it doesn’t get taken seriously,” said the association’s Mel Buffalo. “But what else can you call it when you have a minority being mistreated because they are a minority? If this were a Ukrainian burial ground, I don’t think it would take them years to fix the law. ...”

It's a good thing Mr. Buffalo doesn't like to throw the "r" word around. Perhaps the next time he is tempted to go against his better judgment, he might consider taking sufficient interest in his intended target to first ensure he knows whereof he speaks.

Had he done so before accusing the government of favouritism towards Ukrainians and racism against Aboriginals in its handling of the Cemetaries Act, he would have learned that Ukrainian cemetaries on the sites of WWI concentration camps across Canada have in fact been languishing due to government neglect, just as Aboriginal ones have been in Alberta. And that if it weren't for the tireless efforts of a few determined individuals, those Ukrainian burial grounds would soon have been overgrown and disappeared completely from Canada' s collective memory.

Maybe I'm being touchy, but I just think that accusing the Alberta government of favouring one minority over another is pretty stupid counterproductive. Besides, the fact that Alberta's premier (who is fairly new to the job, btw) just happens to be of Ukrainian descent makes any claim of racism that contains a snide reference to Ukrainians come off looking just a tad disingenous.

Getting one's facts straight before making an accusation is just plain common courtesy, not to mention common sense. Perhaps if such simple gestures of respect were more commonplace, claims of racism might be made, as well as taken, more seriously.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jan 13 recipe - Golden Honey Wheat Bread

Тhis week's recipe ... which you can hear from now until next Sunday's program update at the Nash Holos website:

Golden Honey Wheat Bread

2½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup light honey
¼ cup oil
1½ cups buttermilk
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped raisins
1 tbsp orange zest

Step 1. Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl, until well blended.
Step 2. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured large loaf pan. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Step 3. Bake at 375º for 50-60 minutes.
Step 4. Turn out of pan and cool on a baking rack ... then devour.

Try it… it’s Ukrainian!

Vancouver audio archives updated to Jan. 13

Audio archives for Nash Holos and Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) are now available on the Nash Holos website.

On Ukrainian Food Flair, Sylvia Pidraziuk Molnar shares a recipe for a whole-wheat sweet bread and some tips about honey (below).

On Travel Tips for Ukraine and Eastern Europe, Myrna Arychuk of Solaway Travel has details on her upcoming pilgrimage tour, Legacy of Pope John Paul II.

As usual, the Proverb of the Week and other items of interest to the Ukrainian community in the Lower Mainland ... and beyond. And of course, plenty of Great Ukrainian New Year's carols.

Regular programming resumes next week, so get those dancing boots ready! And sharpen those pencils, too ... Nash Holos Ukrainian Language School also re-opens.

In the meantime, enjoy the last of our Christmas programming for this season!

Here's this week's recipe, which you can hear at the website here.

Golden Honey Wheat Bread

2½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup light honey
¼ cup oil
1½ cups buttermilk
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped raisins
1 tbsp orange zest

Step 1. Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl, until well blended.
Step 2. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured large loaf pan. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Step 3. Bake at 375º for 50-60 minutes.
Step 4. Turn out of pan and cool on a baking rack ... then devour.

Try it… it’s Ukrainian!

Monday, January 14, 2008

ManSound ... and what a sound!

Щасливого нового року! Enjoy this New Year (not Christmas) carol.

Thanks to Mariana Dzus in Munich for letting me know about this Ukrainian group. Incredible!


Premier's Ukie roots a source of media fascination in Alberta

This article kind of made me wonder what's with the Alberta media's fascination with Premier Stelmach's Ukrainian farm pioneer roots...

Last week, Ralph Klein came back from the political graveyard and basically taunted Ed Stelmach to hit him with his best shot.

Heck, the former premier - whose mantra once was "That was then, this is now" - even gave Steady Eddie all the reason in the world to take a poke. ...

But other than a few coded messages about the province being "no longer on auto- pilot," Stelmach's handlers have stayed away from fingering Klein. ...

One of the most bizarre things about Stelmach's first year is the goofy strategy to suppress the Stelmach Story.

Instead, voters in Calgary - where the "undecided" factor is the dominant political unknown - only know about a guy in a suit who utters sleep-inducing speeches and talks like a bureaucrat.

They know nothing of the boy whose mother tongue is farmhouse Ukrainian because that's how he talked to Baba and Gido. ....


Not being an Albertan, I have to wonder how much of Klein's ethnic background the media was curious about, and felt the public had a right to know?

But apart from that, I suppose it's natural to want to know more about one's premier. There's just one thing. Premiers are a tad different from attention-seeking celebrities who bore the world with their every personal detail. Premiers have provinces to run ... and gosh darn it, there's just too much work to do and too many policies to explain to taxpayers for indulging in navel-gazing and personal anecdoting with members of the media.

Yes, I appreciate that it's easier and more fun to report on a premier's personality than on his policies... which explains why newspapers are inexorably descending to the level of the tabloids. (Thank you Mr. Black. May you rot in a maximum security jail.)

OTOH, I do find it rather nice that someone in the media (finally) seems to view Ukrainian Canadian farmers with a measure of respect as well as interest.

Quite refreshing, actually.

Full article here.

For visitors to Ukraine ...

Ukrainian Guide is a site I just discovered (thanks to a comment left by Tania on an earlier post).

It has some very nice articles about Ukraine ... all kinds of things like places to see, history, cuisine, city profiles, customs.

I'm not crazy about that "Ukrainian girls" link, tho. I suspect that, unbeknowst to the average citizen, such sites are run mostly by odious human traffickers. (...are there any other kind?) And I find it obscene to advertise, however inadvertently, for thugs profitting from the misery of Ukrainian women and girls whose dreams of a better life blinded them to the danger they represent.

But, I digress! Hopefully that distasteful link will disappear soon, as otherwise it's quite a good site with excellent content and gorgeous photos. Check it out!

Friday, January 11, 2008

PM wishes Ukrainian Canadians a "Happy Malanka"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress saying "Happy Malanka" (New Year's by the Julian calendar).

That's kind of him, I suppose. Hard to find fault with such platitudes a nice gesture.

Of course, I might be more impressed if he'd done it on Nash Holos, but that's just me. ;-)

Chauvinists still bullying Ukrainian-language rights advocates

Some uni-linguists referred to in an earlier post are not happy about the renaissance of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine. And according to this article on the Ukrainian human rights website Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (which was attacked by hackers last month), those uni-linguists are trying to turn back the hands of time...

You have to marvel at the zeal of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Less than a month after their last response to events in Ukraine falsely accused a man of ... inciting ethnic and racial enmity ... one might admittedly have hoped for a little more attention to detail. ...

The judgment by Ukraine’s Constitutional Court which has so disturbed the Ministry ... made it compulsory for all films being released on the Ukrainian market (including those in Russian) to have subtitles or dubbing in the State language (i.e. Ukrainian). The Russian Ministry believes this to be “yet another confirmation of the lack of will by the Ukrainian authorities to fully and conscientiously implement their international commitments. ...


Well now. What civilized country would demand another sovereign country justify the official status of its native language? Certainly, any country that would use such blatant intimidation tactics and falsely accuse its neighbour could hardly be called civilized.

So here we have Russian language chauvinists claiming that their rights are supposedly being violated. How disingenous. They know very well there is no threat to the Russian language in Ukraine ... just to its previous dominance. But of course it would be bad optics to fight for the latter, wouldn't it?

A journey by public transport in Kyiv for example, Ukraine’s capital city, will assuage all concerns about the threatened position of the Russian language. It is much more disturbing how seldom one hears Ukrainian being spoken. ... The considerable number of people using the Russian language in their daily life makes it difficult not to treat claims that Russian speakers are discriminated against with scepticism.

Indeed. And as usual, the "little" guys have had to take things into their own hands.

...In late 2006, film distributors refused to fulfil quotas for dubbing in Ukrainian rather than Russian, claiming that it was not financially viable for them. After the Cabinet of Ministers failed to take any measures to ensure that the laws were adhered to, a civic initiative arose. Within months a very large number of people had pledged to boycott any films dubbed in Russian rather than Ukrainian.

That show of solidarity in support of the Ukrainian language no doubt angers (and threatens) Russophile uni-linguiusts.

Yet why allowing the Ukrainian language in Ukraine would be anathema to anyone is incomprehensible to me. After all, no one outside Ukraine's borders is forcing Ukrainian down anyone's throat. (Well ok, a few of my non-Ukrainian in-laws might contradict me on that, but that's another story!)

But really, this ongoing attack on the Ukrainian language reflects a centuries-old streak of enduring mean-spiritedness. It would be so refreshing to see it finally stop. Not that I'm holding my breath, tho. (Sigh.)

You can read the whole article on the shameful shenanigans of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tsymbala blog

I just checked out Dan Carkner's blog, Learning Tsymbaly, after he left his calling card here at the Nash Holos blog!

Highly recommended for anyone interested in klezmer music ... as well as learning the ins and outs of playing tsymbaly.

Interesting info, some great videos, and links to fabulous music and information sites. Check it out (here) for yourself!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ukrainian Christmas on Nash Holos

Archives for Nash Holos and Chetverta Khvylia are now updated up to and including Ukrainian Christmas Eve, Jan. 6, 2008.

Whew! It's been a crazy season, and for me the celebrating ends (finally) tonight with a (sure to be) delightful Ukrainian Christmas dinner organized by Solovei Magazine and the Rotary Club of Burnaby.

Apologies for the skimpy blogging over the holidays. I was with you in spirit ... but the flesh was a tad overwhelmed with family obligations (often where there was no internet connection) and general merrymaking. ;-)

Things are slowly getting back to normal after a lot of travelling at the end of 2007. It started, actually, with my excellent Edmonton adventure ... I never really caught my breath as shortly after my return home it was time to travel to Winnipeg for the Christmas season (Gregorian calendar) where there was much rejoicing and partying with family and friends.

Now that the "real" Christmas has arrived, my life is settling back into its normal (figuratively speaking) routine and I'm beginning to enjoy some of the peace that this season promises. Hope you are too!

Enjoy the sounds of the season at the Nash Holos archives. This Sunday will be the last week of Christmas programming for the 2007-2008 season.

Ukrainian Christmas on PEI

Lovely article (here) on Ukrainian Canadians on the "other" coast (Prince Edward Island to be specific) who celebrated Ukrainian Christmas Eve yesterday.

Unfortunately the reporter overlooked a few minor details, like the fact that the Premier of PEI as well as the leader of the Green Party were there.

Nonetheless, looks like a great time was had by all!

More info on the event here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Now showing -- Ukrainian language in Ukrainian theatres

What a lovely Christmas present for those who have fought for the right to life of the Ukrainian language!

According to this article published on December 25, 2007, all foreign films screened and/or distributed in Ukraine must be dubbed or subtitled in Ukrainian.

Unilinguists may howl about that, but they're just small-minded. It is very refined and cultured to know more than one language. And what more pleasant and painless way to learn another language than watching a movie?

Besides, studies have shown (here) that bilingualism is beneficial for the brain and mental health. Just goes to show that Ukrainians are once again (as they have always been) on the leading edge. ;-)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Todaschuk Sisters carolling in Winnipeg

If you're in Winnipeg, tune in to City TV's "Breakfast Television" (7:00-10:00 a.m.) Friday, January 4th to catch some Ukrainian Christmas carols with the Todaschuk Sisters, Rosemarie and Charlene.

In addition to a presentation with Sylvia Todaschuk (Rosemarie and Charlene's mom) on Ukrainian Christmas traditions and celebrations according to the Julian calendar on January 6th & 7th, Rosemarie & Charlene will be featured carolling at approximately 8:50 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. on Channel 8!

Then, on Saturday, January 5, 2008 from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. they will sing more carols from their CD recording "The Spirit of Ukrainian Christmas with the Todaschuk Sisters" as well as Ukrainian folk songs and contemporary songs at McNally Robinson Booksellers Prairie Ink Café @ Grant Park.

Rosemarie teaches music in the English-Ukrainian Bilingual Program at R. F. Morrison School, where students recently did a public performance of a traditional Ukrainian Christmas carol. It can be seen here.

More information on the Todaschuk Sisters is available at Rosemarie's and Charlene's websites.