Thursday, July 17, 2014

Plans for independence observance this month

     The Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Organizations of North Port and vicinity, consisting of representatives of all local Ukrainian American clubs, associations and other entities, headed by Roma Guran of Venice, is reminding all that the reading of the proclamation to recognize the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence will take place at North Port City Hall commission chambers at 6 p.m. July 28. Ukraine’s independence was restored by an act of Verkhovna Rada (supreme council) of the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on Aug. 24, 1991. The act was overwhelmingly confirmed by the nationwide referendum held on Dec. 1, 1991.

    Traditionally, a copy of the proclamation by the City Commission is presented, after the reading, to the representatives of the local Ukrainian American community. The Coordinating Committee is asking all to attend the City Commission meeting and to wear embroidered attire.

    Members of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans are being asked to attend said meeting wearing the “D” uniform (blue T-shirt, gray trousers and veteran’s cap).

                                                  • • •

    Sixty years ago, a battle in western Ukraine, known to Ukrainians as “the Battle of Brody,” was fought July 13-22, 1944, by the Ukrainian military unit known as the “Halychyna Division,” attempting to stop the advance of the several times stronger Soviet forces moving toward Lviv, the cultural capital of western Ukraine. The Soviet forces surrounded the Ukrainian unit July 18, and on
July 21-22, some 3,000 survivors broke out and eventually regrouped. The rest of the 11,000 members of the division were killed during the battle; others were taken prisoner, with many prisoners summarily executed by SMERSH, the Soviet Army counterintelligence unit. The surviving prisoners were charged with high treason, even if they were not Soviet citizens, and sentenced to 25 years of hard labor in the Gulag camps. If they survived the 25-year sentence, they were not permitted to return to the area of their birth or previous residence.

    An unknown number of battle survivors had managed to join the Ukrainian Insurgent
Army, known by its Ukrainian initials UPA, where some attained leading positions due to their superb training in the division. One of my cousins, Vasyl Kulyniak, who managed to survive the battle and joined the UPA, becoming one of the UPA company commanders with the nom de guerre “Dubovyi.” He died as a hero during a battle with a Soviet KGB unit in 1947.

    The UPA was organized in 1943 out of independent self defense units established throughout Ukraine to defend the Ukrainian population against the oppressive Nazi German occupational administration and police. After the Soviets reoccupied Ukraine after
driving the Nazi Germans out, the UPA continued to fight, without any outside help, the Soviet Russian occupational administration, including its police and military units. Many of my relatives and friends, who were members of the UPA, died in the skirmishes, including my other two cousins, Ivan and Eugene Petsyukh; my wife Katrusia’s brother, Ivan “Yanko” Osadciw; and others. The final resting place of most of them is “known only to God.”

    May their memory be eternal! “Veechnaya Pamyat!”

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

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