They commemorated all victims of the war and of the two diabolical regimes who fought on the territory of Ukraine, occupied the territory at one time or another, and deliberately killed or deported civilian citizens, one to make room for the expansion of “Deutsches Reich,” and the other to eliminate the freedomloving Ukrainians.
I witnessed, as a 13-year-old boy, the beginning of the war, the discovery of tens of thousands of murdered political prisoners or simply prisoners suspected of opposition to Stalin’s regime in prisons, the “liberation” by Nazi troops who very soon proved themselves to be equal or, in some people’s opinion, superior to Stalin’s executioners by publicly executing Ukrainian patriots in the main square of Drohobych and other Ukrainian cities, and the mass killing of Ukrainian Jews in Drohobych and other cities. Even the seven decades that went by cannot erase memories of these and other dastardly acts witnessed by this young, impressionable, and, at that time, pure and innocent boy.
In Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko, accompanied by former presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, placed a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In another important city, Lviv, in western Ukraine, thousands of people led by religious and civil regional and local officials, gathered at the monument to honor victims of communist oppression, praying, laying flowers and singing patriotic songs. Similar observances took place in all other cities and towns throughout Ukraine.
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Due to the many tragic occurrences throughout their history, Ukrainians tend to commemorate many tragic events, as, for example, Holodomor (death by hunger) of 1932-33, and the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
However, there were also many glorious periods of Ukrainian history.
One such event, the 355th anniversary of the “Battle of Konotop,” which will be celebrated primarily in the city of Konotop in the Sumy region in Ukraine, June 28-29, commemorating the defeat of Muscovite forces (there was no such thing as “Russia” at that time) by the Ukrainian Kozak Army, led by Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky.
The defeat of the Muscovite forces was such that Vyhovsky chased them all the way into Muscovy land, and he could have easily conquered the city of Moscow, which he decided not to do (and was eventually criticized for it).
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Happy news: The recent victory of Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine, a newcomer to professional boxing who won the vacant WBO featherweight title on Saturday by defeating Gary Russell of Washington, D.C., by majority decision in Carson City, Calif.
Lomachenko is a double Olympian and triple world amateur champion. He made his professional debut last October by defeating Jose Ramirez by KO in the 10th round in Las Vegas, Nev.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at atanask@aol. com
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn