Thursday, June 26, 2014

Memories are not all pleasant

     Ukrainians observed Sunday, the 73rd anniversary of the start of the war between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Russia — which resulted in millions of victims, especially in Ukraine — as a “Day of Mourning” (“Den Skorboty”).

    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.
                                              • • •

    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).

                                               • • •

    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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Community activist, Holodomor survivor dies

   The North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community bid farewell to one of its members, community activist and “Holodomor” survivor Halyna Korol, 89, of Warm Mineral Springs, who died June 7 after suffering a stroke several weeks earlier. The ecumenical “Panakhyda” (requiem service) was celebrated last Sunday at Farley’s North Port Chapel by the Very Rev. John Fatenko, pastor of the Ukrainian Orthodox congregation of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church, the Rt. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus, and the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. The solemn requiem divine liturgy was celebrated Monday by the Rt. Rev. John Fatenko at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church.

    Mrs. Korol was born April 1, 1925, in the Myrhorod, Poltava region, Ukraine. At the age of 7, she was witnessing the results of murderous famine perpetrated on Ukraine by Soviet dictator Stalin and his cohorts in 1932-33. The artificial genocidal famine
known in Ukrainian as “Holodomor” (death by hunger) resulted in several million deaths, mostly of Ukrainian peasants who were reluctant to join the Stalin-mandated collectivization of farm lands, traditionally privately owned by Ukrainians. The Ukrainian towns and villages devastated by death and massive deportation were soon resettled by transplants from Russia. The result
of these activities, deaths and deportation of Ukrainians, and settlement of Russians as replacements, is the main reason for the problems, including killings, in some areas of Ukraine, now actively supported with men, arms and equipment by Stalin’s admirer and successor, Putin.

    Mrs. Korol often spoke about Holodomor to both the local Ukrainian American community, and to the students of North Port High School. As an active member of our local community, she was a member of several organizations, including the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Ukrainian Language Society and Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida. She worshiped at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church in North Port, where she was known not to miss a single Sunday liturgy until her illness prevented her from attending. Every festive assembly or concert saw Mrs. Korol delivering an address, reciting a poem or reading passages from selected works of known authors.

    My wife Katrusia was often visited by the Korols during her surgeries and prolonged incapacity, and I wish to convey our heartfelt expression of sympathy to Mrs. Korol’s bereaved husband, Dr. Wolodymyr Korol, children, Taras and Stephanie, and other relatives.
“Veechnaya Payette” (eternal memory).

                                            • • •

    This Sunday, June 22, will be the 73rd anniversary of the start of a war between the armies of erstwhile friends, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, who two years earlier had celebrated the agreement to divide Europe among themselves.

    Having lived close to the demarcation line, I and others had witnessed the massive buildup of Soviet military might in preparation for the attack on the German position. As it turned out, Hitler decided to attack before Stalin was ready. The first few months of the war saw entire units of the Soviet Red Army either deserting or surrendering en masse, not wanting to fight for the murderous Stalin’s regime. As it turned out, the Nazi regime was equally inhuman, allowing tens of thousands of prisoners of war to die from hunger and disease. Consequently, mass surrenders and desertions stopped, and with the help of the United States’ “land lease,” the Soviet army began to fight.

    The biggest loser in that war was Ukraine, having suffered more losses of its population than any other country because the war was fought on its territory.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Awards and honors for Southwest Florida ladies

     The XXX Jubilee Convention of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, commonly referred to as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian Ladies) held on May 23-26 in Tarrytown, N.Y., not far from New York City, saw a very active participation of members of North Port’s UNWLA Branch 56, and also resulted in a large number of awards and recognition for members of the North Port branch. The UNWLA conventions are held every three years; the next one will be held in 2017, most likely in Florida.

    Some erroneous and/ or incomplete information contained in last week’s column call for correction.

    The guests attending the convention, Olena Boyko and Ulana Sos, are members of Branch 56. Orysia Zinycz of Venice, Branch 56 member, who chaired the convention’s Nominating Committee, and Olya Cherkas of St. Petersburg, Fla., UNWLA Branch 124 member, were elected co-liaisons for branches-at-large for the 2014-2017 term. They are the only National Executive Board members from Southwest Florida.

    UNWLA Vice President-Public Relations Lidia Bilious of Osprey, who retired from the National Executive Board, was awarded the UNWLA Honorary Membership Award, the highest award granted by the UNWLA, for her many years of
dedicated service. Orysia Swystun of North Port, past president of Branch 56, was also awarded the Honorary Membership Award.

    Members-at-Large Chair Roxolana Yarymovych of Osprey, who retired from the National Executive Board, received a certificate of appreciation for her many years of dedicated service, as did Vice President-Membership Anna Macielinski.

    Iwanna Holowaty, past president of Branch 56, and Maria Wolynec, both of Venice, received 50-year member awards.

    The UNWLA North Port Branch 56, headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, received three awards for its accomplishments.

                                                        • • •

    Members of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Post Commander Eugene A. Tomashosky of North Port, met Friday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as “the Oseredok”).

    The agenda of the meeting included the customary reports of officers, the presentation of UAV National Commander
Ihor W. Hron of Osprey, and a “post-mortem” of the post’s participation in last month’s Memorial Day observances. Both the minutes of the previous month’s meeting by Post Adjutant Roman E. Kilar of North Fort Myers, and the financial report by acting finance officer, Post Vice Commander and UAV National Adjutant Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.) of Osprey, were approved after a brief discussion. A lengthier discussion had ensued following NC Hron’s presentation about the status of the UAV National Veterans’ Monument. The omission of UAV Post 40 from all publicity regarding the city Memorial Day observance was considered insulting by many members.

    The highlight of the meeting was the formal induction by NC Hron of three new members — the Rev. Roman Badiak of St. Petersburg, Victor Radzibaba of Gulfport and Oleh Sawkiw of Venice.

    The next membership meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Oseredok.

                                                        • • •

    Being a father, I am looking forward to Father’s Day on Sunday, and wish all fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, godfathers and fathers-to-be a healthy, safe and enjoyable day.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at atanask@

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Local Ukrainian organizations are active

The North Port Chapter 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, known in Ukrainian as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, held its monthly membership meeting Tuesday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious Center (known as the “Oseredok”). It was the last meeting before the summer break.

    The main item on the agenda was the report of officers and delegates who attended the UNWLA XXX National Convention held in New York City, the “birthplace” of the UNWLA, on May 23-26. There were five delegates from Chapter 56 (Ann-Marie Susla, Lieda
Boyko, Oksana Lew, Lida Mychalowych and Larisa Shpon) and three National Executive Board members (Lidia Bilous, Roxolana Yarymovych and Orysia Zinycz. There were also two guests from Chapter 24, Olena Boyko and Ulana Sos.

    Orysia Zinycz of Venice, who chaired the convention’s Nominating Committee, and Olya Cherkas of St. Petersburg, were elected co-liaisons
for branches-at-large for the 2014-2017 term. There were 21 delegates from branches-at-large at the convention.

    Members-at-Large Chair Roxolana Yarymovych of Osprey was re-elected, and Lidia Bilous of Osprey was elected UNWLA executive vice president for 2014-17 term.

                                                  • • •

    The monthly membership meeting of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Post Commander Eugene A. Tomashosky of North Port, will be at 3 p.m. Friday at the Oseredok. This will be the last membership meeting before the summer break.

    Members are being asked to come to the
meeting in their summer uniforms with blue scarfs for a photograph that will be sent to the UAV National Executive Board for the 67th National Convention journal. The UAV 67th National Convention will be hosted by UAV Ohio Post 24 and will take place Oct. 2-5 in Cleveland, Ohio.

                                                  • • •

    On Monday, the Ukrainian Central Election Commission officially declared Petro Poroshenko, who received 54.7 percent (or 9,857,308) of the votes during the May 25 presidential election, to be the next president of Ukraine. His inauguration is tentatively scheduled to take place Saturday.

    Mr. Poroshenko, a successful businessman (in chocolates and cakes) who played an active role in the mass demonstration “Maidan” (November 2012-February 2014), which resulted in the pro-Russian, former president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Russia, was also a foreign minister and fi- nance minister in former governments. Ukrainians are hoping that he will be able to bring peace and stability to the country, which now faces a serious aggression instigated and actively supported by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

                                                  • • •

    On a personal note: Today is a special day for
our family because our two oldest children, son Alexander Zenon and daughter Maria Luba, are celebrating their 61st and 58th birthdays.

    Also, our youngest son, A. Ihor, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

    My wife Katrusia and I are very proud of our children and wish them all the best, and “Mnohaya Leeta!”

 Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn