Hello this is Ukraine Calling. A weekly roundup of what’s been happening in Ukraine, with a focus on a main story. I’m Bohdan Nahaylo, currently with Democracy Reporting International, standing in for Hromadske Radio in Kyiv, and here are the some of the main stories from Ukraine.
UN General Assembly Meets in New York After Russia Votes
Ukraine’s President Poroshenko traveled to New York this week to attend the United Nations General Assembly. He met with US President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. Republican Party candidate Donald Trump did not respond to a meeting request. On Wednesday Poroshenko addressed the annual gathering of world leaders. He used the occasion to once again say that Russia was using hybrid warfare to fuel global insecurity, while pretending it is not involved in Ukraine.
A savvy Ukrainian ad campaign was launched just ahead of the UN meeting. It’s a brief statement that in 1994 Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for international security guarantees. And portraits of Ukrainians who are called the only real guarantors of Ukraine’s security. We’ll post a link to the campaign on the Ukraine Calling website. http://herofaces.org/
Russia’s President Putin, in the meantime, used his UN address to blame the West for upheaval in the Middle East, and appealed to everyone to uphold international law. Yet just one day earlier (20 September) Russia violated international law by holding elections in Crimea as part of their general Duma (Parliamentary) election. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 recognises Crimea as within Ukraine’s international borders. By holding elections on occupied territory they in fact de-legitimized their entire election. http://www.europeanvalues.net/opencall/ The OSCE refused to monitor the polls in Crimea, and neither the EU nor the US recognized those election results. Fewer than half of Crimea’s residents went to the polls, 47%, and 44% in Sevastopol. In villages where the majority population is Crimean Tatar, such as Pionerske, voter turnout was 7-8%.
We’ll bring you in depth commentary on this later in the show.
International figures joined Ukraine’s decision and opinion makers at this year’s Yalta European Strategy meeting in Kyiv this week. It’s an annual gathering started 13 years ago by one of Ukraine’s richest men, Victor Pinchuk, with the aim of promoting Ukraine’s European integration. For the past three years it’s been held in internal exile in Kyiv, since Yalta, the original venue, is no longer available to Ukrainians. This year Hollywood star Kevin Spacey stole the show, with seemingly everyone lining up to take selfies with him. US journalist Fareed Zakaria had a sober message for Ukrainians: “Putin’s goal is to drive a wedge between the US and the EU and to use that wedge to get rid of sanctions.” More on this year’s YES conference later.
Ukrainian Library in Moscow under Threat
A story that didn’t make the headlines in a big way but is worth noticing is that the Ukrainian library in Moscow is under further threat. Two sources reported that its book stock is being handed over to the Center for Slavic Cultures, which will, in effect, leave it without books. While Moscow hypocritically falsely accuses Ukraine of limiting the rights of Russian speakers, the pressure on organized Ukrainian life in Russia, even cultural, continues.
Lviv book fair
Meanwhile, last week the annual Ukrainian book publishers forum in L’viv was an impressive success which attested to the vitality of Ukrainian culture and the growth of the Ukrainian publishing industry.
For the first time since Ukraine Calling started airing, there was day in Ukraine’s war zone when no one was killed or injured. That was Sunday 18 September. Overall, there was a noticeable decrease in the intensity in hostilities. And on Wednesday the 21st, the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group announced that an agreement has been reached. A framework for withdrawing troops and weapons from three villages along the front line was in place. Although this is only one step towards peace, it was the first breakthrough in many months of talks, even if it did smack of déjà vu. During the past week, only 1 Ukrainian soldier was killed, and fourteen were wounded. Ironically, the leader of the Oplot separatist organization, Yevhen Zhilin, from Kharkiv, was shot dead in a Moscow restaurant on 19 Sept by an unknown assassin. He was renowned for his pro-Russian position and opposition to the EuroMaidan movement.
Ukraine’s government submitted a draft budget on schedule, for the first time in the country’s modern history. For 2017 the Groysman government set out priority areas as defence and security, infrastructure, energy efficiency, agriculture, and decentralization of state power. The proposed deficit is 3% of GDP, down from 3.7% in 2016. International economists called the budget balanced and realistic, though parties considering themselves in opposition continued to resort to populist rhetoric and denounce recent austerity measures. http://www.kyivpost.com/article/content/ukraine-politics/government-submits-draft-budget-for-2017-on-time-423 130.html
Culture and Music
Three more festivals to tell you about this week. The Second International Literature Festival starts in Odesa on the 28th Sept and runs through October 1st. The programme is available on their FB page, and we’ll post a link on our show’s webpage. And in Kharkiv, the Eighth Annual Dytiatko Festival happened this week. It’s organized by the Kharkiv Oblast (regional) Council to highlight children’s and youth television programming. There are workshops, master classes, concerts, bonfires, and a competition for best TV programme/film. A song for you this week is called, “Night in the Big City,” performed by Andriy Sachevya with Dana Vynnyts’ka. It’s dedicated to those killed in Kyiv’s Maidan. And in Kyiv the annual celebrated HoholFest continues until the end of the week.
Next week there will be a series of events in Kyiv to commemorate the 75th anniversary of atrocities in Babyn Yar. The ravine was on the outskirts of Kyiv during the Second World War. German forces and their local collaborators massacred close to 34,000 Jews there 29-30 September 1941. Other victims of German massacred on the site were Soviet prisoners of war, Ukrainian nationalists, communists, and Roma. Historians estimate that between 100 – 150,000 people were killed at Babyn Yar during the German occupation. Babyn Yar has become a major symbol of the Holocaust, something that was largely silenced during the Soviet era. This year’s events include a youth conference, a public symposium, a memorial space competition, and a commemorative concert. Ukraine Calling will post a link to the entire programme on the show’s website. We will be watching this and other stories in Ukraine.
Guest Host Bohdan Nahaylo speaks to two prominent journalists, David Satter and Brian Bonner, about Ukraine in the international context:
Nahaylo: I am very happy that in this studio I have two good friends, two seasoned journalists, campaigners, veterans of the trade, who know Ukraine very well, but more importantly know the outside world also very well. To briefly introduce them. I have David Satter sitting here, he used to be the Moscow correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and who has written many articles telling us about the realities of this part of the world and he continues to do so. In fact, I met him last week at the publishers book fair in L’viv when he was signing copies of his book and also giving talks on his perception of the things. And directly across from me, I am very happy to see again Brian Bonner who is the Editor of The Kyiv Post. He has been here for a quite few years and certainly knows how this world functions, or does not function, and how the rest of the world perceives it. Gentlemen…Sorry, there is no gender balance today …Marta is not here… But we have what we have…
If we look back at the last week, we have the UN General Assembly, we have President Poroshenko in the US, some jitters in Kyiv on what is going to happen in the US presidential elections, and for that matter the election of the new Secretary General in the UN, if that will make a difference at all. We have seen Poroshenko met with Obama in the corridors and with Hillary Clinton. Apparently Trump was not available. He met with the Turkish President, which is interesting. Again, it’s probably on the peripheries, but never the less symbolic. Today we hear news that in Minsk the Trilateral Group dealing with the ceasefire and arranging a peace settlement has yet again agreed on a separation of the warring sides, a case of the déjà vu, or there is more to it? And there are other developments. Obviously, this week Ukrainian Parliament is looking at the budget but also there is a lot of concern about what any deals behind the scenes in Minsk and elsewhere might mean in terms of imposed agenda, imposed decentralization, imposed trade-offs concerning the eastern part of Ukraine. Let’s start very generally. Let’s start with the US. David, very exciting times for all because of the uncertainty as to the outcome of the US Presidential elections. What is your reading on how Ukraine is perceived, and how things could change, depending on the outcome of the election?
Satter: I think Ukraine is understood to be a victim of aggression. This perception is very clear. It’s not something that is in doubt. I think that basic underlying reality will shape US policy after the election. No matter who is the new president is. Because the world has a deep stake in not only not rewarding, but making clear the unacceptability of land grabs like the Russian seizure of Crimea, and the unacceptability of artificially fomented civil wars or disguised international aggression. These are the basic things that underlie the relationship right now. Those are very fundamental issues that are not going away does not matter who the next president is.
Nahaylo: But there is a lot of concern… I think Brian will support me on that. He is based here in Kyiv. Should Trump win, there will be a sea change. There will be a game changing situation. Brian, what is your take? You are an American, aren’t you? Or a Canadian?
Bonner: I am an American. I want to plug our debate coming up the key person from TV are co-sponsoring the US presidential debate on Monday night, September 26, at the Golden Gate pub, right across form the Golden Gate metro, at 8 pm. We will actually have debates. Democrats Abroad debating for Hillary Clinton. We found somebody to stand up for Donald Trump. It was not easy, but we did. So there will be a Republican there. Of course it comes on the same day, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are going to start the first of the first of three debates. We have a presidential candidate here who started talking about recognizing Russian illegal annexation of Crimea. We also have a presidential candidate here who thinks Vladimir Putin is a strong leader. Garry Kasparov had the right lines: “Putin is a strong leader in the same way as the arsenic is a strong drink.” I think this is the most dangerous, the most volatile American election I’ve seen, and I am 57 years old.
Nahaylo: Isn’t it going to make any difference? How much of it is posturing beforehand and populism, and how much of it will be “realpolitik” at the end of the day?
Bonner: I think it was good that Obama …Ukraine has not fallen off the radar. As was shown yesterday in Obama’s final speech to the UN General Assembly. He had to shout out what Ukraine wants, and he criticized Russia twice. We saw him to sit down with Clinton, we saw him to sit down with Joe Biden. It seems clear… It was really funny role reversal that the Democratic Party is now looking to be stronger on Ukraine than the Republican Party. As David knows, that is a quite role reversal from previous politics. Although I have to say when it comes to Ukraine there has been tremendous bi-partisan support.
Nahaylo: David, do you read anything in the fact that Poroshenko reached out, at least symbolically, to Trump and made known his desire whether for protocol reasons or political balance to meet with him. Apparently, this was not possible. He met with Clinton. Is this an indication how things might go?
Satter: I do not think so. I do not know all the circumstances. I can only tell you how I am perceiving things in the US. Trump is attempting to appeal to his domestic supporters. If he praises Putin, it is not necessarily because he knows a lot about him. But because he is trying to project the image of someone who vigorously defends American interests. In contrast to Obama. When he talks about conditional support for the NATO Alliance, he is trying to indicate to his supporters that he is going to definitely insist on a greater contribution from foreign countries. Remember that his base of support are people who have suffered as a result of various international trade deals, and feel that the US has lost its position in the world. There are other signs, not so visible to the public. In fact, if Donald Trump does win (which is far from certainty), he will be obliged to rely on the Republican foreign policy establishment, which is very supportive of Ukraine. A lot of this pre-election rhetoric seen in the retrospective is less important than people give it credit.
Nahaylo: Let me put a question another way. Some talk about “Ukraine fatigue” in Europe, that for some reason Ukraine is not delivering reforms, being very costly, given the war is going on…Do you sense that, abstracting from the election, the dynamics and atmosphere it creates … Is there a sense of “Ukraine fatigue” in Washington?
Bonner: I am living here, I have to summarise what I heard from international speakers at Viktor Pinchuk’s Yalta European Strategy 13th annual conference, not in Yalta this year for obvious reasons.
Nahaylo: When was that?
Bonner: It was 15 to 17 September (2016), Thursday to Saturday. To summarise: the feeling, the conversation was… even Ukraine’s friends and not so friends… We had a French Member of Parliament, and a German Member of Parliament…They had different views. They said that Ukraine needs to get its house in order. Ukraine does not make it easy for people to go out on a limb supporting it, because of the continuing corruption, continuing lack of rule of law, and unfair foreign investment climate. There was a great exchange between Borys Lozhkin, former Chief of Staff of President Poroshenko, Dmytro Shymkiv, the Deputy Assistant Head of the Presidential Administration, and Fareed Zakaria, who is a famous US journalist and hosts CNN programs. The president’s men were arguing that we made all these improvements, we removed all these regulations, we got so much better in the last 5-10 years. And the journalist said “Capital does not care. They are not comparing you what you have done in the last 5 years. They are comparing you to the rest of the world and how you compare to India, Turkey, or other countries who are also trying to attract the capital”. The world is watching for access to capital. Ukraine is not getting it and we know the reasons why.
Nahaylo: Let me return to what else was discussed. Often I hear from my Ukrainian colleagues: “The world does not understand us. It does not support us enough. If they were in our shoes, they would think differently…” Do you think that Ukrainians that you meet on various levels, including official level and even the journalists, do they understand the subtleties of how the outside world works and perceives them? And what’s needed in terms even basic PR?
Bonner: From Ukraine? Not enough…That’s very apparent. As you hear that’s why the YES format is so great in mixing the Ukrainian elite with cross-national elites. You can see that Ukraine’s time in the global spotlight could come to an end very soon. The French Member of Parliament was saying, you guys have to do your bit on Minsk, or we go to business as usual, we are tired over these sanctions every 6 months. You guys have to come up with something. I disagree completely. Russian has not fulfilled even the basics in terms of Minsk. But Ukraine has got to do a better job in pushing the agenda, and the fact that it is cleaning its house, that there are clear commitments that Russia is not living up to. The more it helps itself, the more the world is willing to help.
Nahaylo: David, as somebody who has just flown in from Washington, what is your take on this?
Satter: I think people in Ukraine have reasonable understanding of the West. It is easier to understand something that is normal and logical than for someone who comes from the society that is based on law and democratic values to understand a society that is lawless and very idiosyncratic. Even given the level of understanding many Ukrainians have, (this is also true for other citizens of the former Soviet republics) they do not learn the right lessons. They do not see the connection between individual self-discipline and moral integrity that are expected in a democratic society, and the prosperity and success of those societies. There is often times a disconnect in which people entranced by the well- being that they see in the West, but they cannot see in their own lives, or in their relationships, and fail to understand that it does not happen automatically. It also requires certain commitment not just on the level of institutions, but on the individual level. The failure to make that commitment, or even to understand it in many cases, is very destructive for the ultimate goal. I have been always fascinated by the fact the rich in the US, after they accumulate a lot of money, often want to do good with their money. They establish foundations, for example, or they give money to charities. Whereas in the former Soviet Union it seems although they may make minor gestures in the direction of supporting good works, the accumulation of money is directly connected to the even more greedy consumption. That is a fundamental difference. That reflects something very basic about social attitudes, about individual attitudes. It will be necessary for people in Ukraine to go through a period of self-examination if they want to help reconstruct the society and make of it highly successful place it could be under the right circumstances.
Nahaylo: David, you have been a correspondent in and out in the former Soviet area, particularly in Moscow, Russia. You really know it better than most. You know what you are talking about. Your books suggest you do. In the scheme of things, where would you place Ukraine? I am not asking about blunt comparison with Russia. But comparing Ukraine and its neighbourhood – Belarus, Baltic States, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, etc… It’s still lagging behind. I also want Brian Bonner from The Kyiv Post to respond to this. Where would you situate it now? How should people see themselves here? There is a strong desire to be linked with Europe, to be associated with the European values but in terms of political culture, knowhow, ways of doing things, combating corruption. We know there is a long way to go. On that GPS, where would you locate Ukraine?
Bonner: It is still not there. At the YES conference, the number one oligarch, not in terms of wealth, but in terms of power, Poroshenko, was there speaking, at a conference hosted by the number four oligarch in power, Victor Pinchuk. That’s where we sit now. This is the country that does not need to be poor. With 40 billion dollars looted, more than a hundred murders and no trials, we obviously see that there is a lot of obstruction to changes. But there is real competition, a real conflict, and a real battle going on. That is going to determine a lot of things in Europe. This country might have 100 billion dollars of domestic product growth, if it is lucky this year. The Parliament was talking this week about a 30 billion dollar national budget. To put this in context, that’s like a third of New York City’s municipal budget. It [Ukraine] is a very poor country. It does not need to be poor. It should not be poor. We all know why it is poor.
Nahaylo: Is the battle about values, direction or about wealth, distribution of the parts of the pie?
Bonner: All three are linked: values, direction, and wealth.
Satter: One of the questions I have been asking myself about contemporary Ukraine, post-Maidan Ukraine: why are incidents like the Radievka attack on a young woman still going on? Is this kind of syndrome still a characteristic for a large number of areas in Ukraine, just as it is in Russia? Like police feel they can abduct a woman, rape and kill her, or practically kill her, and get away with it? The residents feel the same because they are intimidated …
Nahaylo: We just saw something recent. It was not a women but it was a man who was very cruelly killed by policemen. There was a local reaction. Many revolted. The media came in. Clearly that lawlessness despite the changes in the police system, at least in the big cities, persists…
Satter: What is really disturbing is that people are getting killed in encounters in the police in the US. But what is really disturbing in Ukraine and in the former Soviet Union police can do whatever they want with people, to use them in any way they want and never have to answer. It is not just the police. It is also people who are connected to the elite some way. It is reflected in the way people drive, those who are connected…
Nahaylo: A very good example. This driving …
Satter: We are getting down to really fundamental psychological attitude that ultimately underpins corruption. If the individual is not worth anything, if those in authority think that the only thing that matters is having their hands on the levers of power, is it any wonder that there is corruption on the part of office holders who do not fear anything, and are not being held accountable? Indifference, resignation, and despair on the part of the ordinary citizen who feel there is nothing they can do… We can talk all we want about some bureaucratic, structural, institutional changes that can be made, and ought to be made. We can talk about an influx of foreign assistance, which of course is very helpful. But what ultimately is going to change things, and what is ultimately really the key, is this set of attitudes.
Nahaylo: I just want to say now wearing my Democracy Reporting International hat, whom I represent at the moment here in Kyiv. Some are reassured by changes of attitudes especially among the young people. The younger generation, particularly an educated generation, is not going to take it anymore. They are not looking for an easy way like to simply emigrate. Many of them do. But many want to stay. They want to live in a civilised, modern, flourishing European democracy. I have been very encouraged to see that despite all the blemishes that we live in, there is this dynamism inherited from the Maidan which is still persevering despite the immense obstacles and the immense conservatism. Brian, how do you see it?
Bonner: The ruling elite, since Maidan, have been trying to obstruct, trying to keep the system in place, but they are encountering a fierce resistance. That is was one of the solutions that was talked about by Mikheil Saakashvili, Mustafa Nayeem, some of the other young reformers at the YES conference. What is the solution? New elections, a new elite. It is going to happen. The soldiers who are fighting for the country in the east are not going to put up with coming back to a lawless society where they are not getting the benefits, where there are two classes of people, ultra-rich and the majority is poor and the middle class is small. I would like to say, this by no means excuses the corruption that is going on, and that is not being fought, and a lack of political will and the term would be obstruction of justice. David is one of the ones who figured Putin out long before most other journalists. Ukraine would be helped a lot if it didn’t have to spend 5% of its meagre GDP on the military, if it did not have to worry about invasion, if it wasn’t in the middle of a war. Do you think Putin is going to give Ukraine the breathing space it needs?
Satter: I don’t think he intends to at all. What we’ve seen recently, there was a big massing of troops on the Russian border intended to create the impression that war was imminent. We’ve seen this periodically, as he uses his tactics to destabilize the situation, as you say, Brian, to create the conditions for the Ukrainian authorities to be unable to undertake a lot of the things it maybe have liked to undertake. This is not surprising because the fact is that Ukraine and Russia are different in a vast number of ways, but there are enormous similarities. And from the point of view of Russians, success in a democratic transformation of Ukraine would be of tremendous significance. In fact, I think that there is a kind of psychological battle going on right now. If Ukraine can establish a working and successful democratic model in a country which was once part of the Soviet Union, and for so long was part of the Russian Empire, that would have an immense effect on Russia. By the same token, if Russia can destabilize the situation in Ukraine and cause Ukraine to revert in effect to authoritarian practices, that would be a huge victory for the regime in Russia. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the region is being played out here in Ukraine to a great extent. The good that can be done here will have effect beyond the borders of the country itself.
Nahaylo: And yet Russia would like us to think in terms of the great game being continued as a struggle for mastery in Europe between east and west. With Russia defending one set of values and one approach to Europe, and the west with the American, transatlantic alliance representing the other. As somebody who lived in Russia for so long, why did you think Russia managed to slip so easily back into that mindset, after the years of Yeltsin, after dispensing with imperial thought and imperial ambitions at least ostensibly on the surface?
Satter: They never did. In fact, the years of Yeltsin were a huge failure because they didn’t establish any change and they didn’t work for any change in the mentality of people. The country was lawless under the communists in many ways. Even more lawless under Yeltsin and it continues to be lawless under Putin. Yes, it’s true that Yeltsin accepted the territorial status quo. Russia was in a condition where they really could do little else. Even in those years, and even in the early 90’s, there were constant references to the suffering of the Russians who lived outside of the territory of the Russian Federation. This was nothing less than putting down a marker for future aggression because there was no real suffering. It is hardly the responsibility of Russia to defend the rights of ethnic Russians living in countries like Ukraine and Latvia and so on. That’s the responsibility of the Ukrainian and Latvian governments as these are their citizens now. Even to bring it up, was disgraceful because the most prominent precedent for that was Hitler’s use of the Sudeten Germans as an excuse for annexing the Sudeten land and the rest of the Czechoslovakia.
Nahaylo: As you can see, Putin has a very selective approach to his historical memory, as he just said yet again this week that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Soviet Union making a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, the division of Poland. Let’s move on because time is running out now. Today’s latest developments in Minsk. Yet another supposed separation of the forces declared. Brian, your take. Is this yet another play of grandstanding before the respective donors and stakeholders, or could it be that finally Putin is willing to at least freeze the situations as it is?
Bonner: I’m with David in this one. I believe that he’s got to show the west that he’s doing something. In reality I will believe that he is interested in peace when he withdraws the weapons, the troops, gives the border back to Ukraine and allows international monitors to go everywhere. He hasn’t done that. Until that happens, this going to go on and on and on. Guys we haven’t even talked about the great election, one of the last democratic elections held in Russia? 1996?
Satter: No, hardly 1996…
Nahaylo: In 1905 and 1917
Bonner: It is ironic, but the elections in the last years of the Soviet Union. In 1991, when Yeltsin was elected president of Russia, while the Soviet Union still existed, that was an honest election. Plus we don’t have any information that the abuses of the massive falsification began after the fall of the Soviet Union. Of course, during the Soviet Union you didn’t have to worry about falsifications, as there was only one candidate. But in that little window, that brief transitional period they actually counted the ballots fairly.
Bonner: So you are unimpressed by the Duma election?
Satter: There are no conditions for honest elections in Russia even if the ballots were counted honestly, which they weren’t, because all of the administrative resources of the country are available to the ruling party, where anyone else is simply squeezed out, out of cars, facilities, especially media.
Nahaylo: OK, gentlemen, we are fast running out of time. It’s been a fascinating discussion, but put on your glasses for looking into the future. Look at the crystal balls before you. Give me your prognosis for the next six months, or a year, given that we’ve got the US elections coming up, uncertain times in Europe, Turkey doing its own thing after certain events etc. etc. If we were to meet in six months’ time or even a year, what would we be discussing?
Bonner: We’d still get a two-front battle. One is against Russia, and one is against corruption at home in Ukraine. And Ukraine needs to with both those wars.
Satter: I agree with that 100%. The conflict with Russia is not going to go away, and the battle against corruption, from what I’ve seen in Ukraine, is not going to go away. What bothers me a little bit is when Ukrainians say “well this is something that will be going on for years. It’s a long battle.” In reality, fighting corruption is only successful if you can act decisively, and all at once. That goes back to something that Ukraine will have to muster if it wants a better future which is a political will.
Nahaylo: One final provocative question before we sign off. To you as observers from afar, and yet so intimately connected with events in this part of the world. Ukraine’s place: Europe? The fringes of Europe? The cutting edge of Europe? What is Ukraine today for you, in two sentences?
Bonner: A democratic, European country. I think that’s where it is headed. I’m all for that. I do not think most Ukrainians see the Russian model, the Putin model, as anything that they want for their future.
Satter: I don’t see why Ukraine can’t do what Poland has done. It’s a country with an educated population. It’s very well situated, has great natural resources and great international connections. It should definitely have a very impressive future, but of course there are things that are necessary in order to achieve that.
Nahaylo: Gentlemen, I thank you very much. David Satter, the renowned journalist, a courageous figure who told the story as it is and not how it came out from Russia. Got kicked out of Russia. He is highly respected by his peers and colleagues. Brian Bonner, a seasoned campaigner, representative of a free democratic press, setting an example for all. Thank you very much for your participation.
Bonner: Thank you.
Satter: Thank you.
Culture and Music
Three more festivals to tell you about this week. The Second International Literature Festival starts in Odesa on the 28th Sept and runs through October 1st. The programme is available on their FB page, we’ll post a link on our show’s webpage. And in Kharkiv, the Eighth Annual Dytiatko Festival happened this week. It’s organized by the Kharkiv Oblast (regional) Council to highlight children’s and youth television programming. There are workshops, master classes, concerts, bonfires, and a competition for best TV. And in Kyiv the annual celebrated HoholFest continues until the end of the week. A song for you this week is called, “Night in the Big City,” performed by Andriy Sachevych, with Dana Vynnyts’ka. It’s dedicated to those killed in Kyiv’s Maidan.
Next week there will be a series of events in Kyiv to commemorate the 75th anniversary of atrocities in Babyn Yar. The ravine was on the outskirts of Kyiv during the Second World War. German forces and their local collaborators massacred close to 34,000 Jews there 29-30 September 1941. Other victims of German massacred on the site were Soviet prisoners of war, Ukrainian nationalists, communists, and Roma. Historians estimate that between 100 – 150,000 people were killed at Babyn Yar during the German occupation. Babyn Yar has become a major symbol of the Holocaust, something that was largely silenced during the Soviet era. This year’s events include a youth conference, a public symposium, a memorial space competition, and a commemorative concert. Ukraine Calling will post a link to the entire programme on the show’s website. http://www.slideshare.net/UAReforms/babyn-yar-programWe will be watching this and other stories in Ukraine.
Tune in next weekend for a new episode of Ukraine Calling. If you have any suggestions or comments, please write to the show at: [email protected]. I’m Bohdan Nahaylo in Kyiv. Thanks for listening.
Interview transcribed by Larysa Iarovenko; Headlines, Culture, Music, and Looking Forward Sections prepared by Marta Dyczok; Sound Engineer, Andriy Izdryk.