Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ukrainian Americans honor Chernobyl victims

 Last Sunday, the Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community commemorated, with Ukrainians in Ukraine and throughout the world, the 29th anniversary of the worst peacetime nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, then known as Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a de-facto colony of Communist Russia. The rulers of the then-Soviet Russia, masquerading as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), were not anxious to divulge the fact of the explosion until Sweden and other European countries had discovered extremely high levels of radiation, and subsequently did their best to minimize the catastrophe and the loss of human lives resulting from it. The radiation resulting from the explosion was 300 times that of Hiroshima.

    The cost of the tragedy is being borne by Ukraine and will not be eliminated soon. As an example, the city of Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, had to set aside 134 million hryvnyas for medical treatment of victims of Chernobyl and their
children. Other localities are forced to do the same for their residents. And to complete the “sarcophagi” to cover Block 4 of the Chernobyl AES, now in progress, an additional 500 million euros are needed, which Ukraine does not have at this time.

    The commemoration in Ukraine took various forms, from the laying of flowers at the monument honoring the first responders (firefighters and military personnel without anti-radiation protection), to the “Chernobyl Waltz” by university students in Lviv, to a personal visit of President Petro Poroshenko to the Chernobyl plant and vicinity.

    The North Port and
Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community commemorated the victims of the tragedy by attending a special prayer service, “Panakhyda” at the end of Sunday’s divine liturgy (Mass) at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. The service, sponsored by the Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American Organizations in North Port and vicinity, headed by Roma Guran of Venice, was celebrated by the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor; the Rt. Rev. Mitrate Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus; and a visiting priest of Ansonia, Conn. The church choir, under the direction of Lubow
Ingram, sang the responses, and representatives of all local clubs and organizations marched in and stood in the main aisle holding lighted candles. Leading the procession and holding the candles at the front of the group were representatives of the Ukrainian American Veterans Post 40, National Chaplain Marian Bojsiuk and yours truly (past national commander), representing post commander Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), who was out of town.
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    Post 40 of the UAV will meet at 3 p.m. Friday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as “the Oseredok”) in North
Port. The meeting will be chaired by Post Vice Commander Col. Roman Synychak, USAF (Ret.).

    The Milena Rudnytska branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Oseredok.

    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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