29 November 2006

Parmesan Trattoria

This new restaurant serves mainly Italian fare as the name suggests. Located at the top of Andriyvskiy Uzviz, across from St. Andrew's Cathedral, Parmesan provides a small, cozy yet modern atmosphere. It has a good selection of wines and an interesting menu. I've only tasted the Tortellini with Raw Ham Prosciutto (77 uah) and I have to say it's the lightest, most delicate and tasty Tortellini I've ever had. With business guests from Germany we arrived at 10:30 pm on a Tuesday evening. The restaurant was still fully staffed and cheerful. The service was exquisite and the kitchen remained open as long as we liked without so much as a comment from the wait staff. Certainly worth a try. I'll be back. Parmesan Trattoria, 34B Andriyivsky Uzviz, +380 44 278 54 45, cpkorsar@svitonline.com

"Orange Chronicles" (Screening in New York)

The "Orange Circle" will be screening Damian Kolodiy and Peter Zielyk's documentary film "Orange Chronicles: A personal journey through Ukraine's Orange Revolution" on Tuesday, December 12th, in New York at the Anthology of Film Archives (32 2nd Ave at 2nd St.) at 7pm. Tickets are $10 (no advance tickets). From the flyer:

"Damian Kolodiy arrived in Kyiv on November 16th, 2004 and remained in Ukraine for all of the nation's historic Orange Revolution. From Kyiv to Donetsk to Odesa to Lviv, Kolodiy's documentary 'The Orange Chronicles' examines the watershed event through the poignant observations and personal interaction with Ukrainians on all sides of the debate."
For more information email: OrangeDoc@gmail.com or visit www.orangechronicles.com

Holodomor: An Act of Genocide

Yesterday, 28.11.06, the Verkhovna Rada historically passed a law declaring the Holodomor as an act of genocide. This is a remarkable step for Ukraine and significant win for President Yushchenko who went out on a limb by "demanding", not "requesting" that the VR vote as such.

Along the same lines, below is my reply to the email from Peter Dickinson, What's On magazine. I am indebted greatly to Marko R., Sev O., Dr. Jurij B. for quickly and concisely educating me about the Holodomor. In the end, I have come away with an abundant understanding of how little I know about the Holodomor and Ukrainian History in general. I look forward to expanding that knowledge. Several books about Holodomor, Stalin, etc. have been recommended to me. I plan to explore these and welcome any historical reading suggestions. Thank you.

Dear Mr. Dickinson,

Thank you for your reply and the clarification of your position.

Regarding your response, I believe that your characterization of the issue as a dichotomy “At core the issue is whether these people were murdered because they were Ukrainians, or because they were peasants” only confuses the issue. The people were targeted because they were Ukrainian and they were peasants.

Although the communist authorities decided that famine was not a practical tool for repression of Ukrainian nationalism in urban areas, repression in cities was well underway in the form of discrimination, repression of Ukrainian language schools, books, Ukrainian churches, mass imprisonment, executions, and deportation to Gulags (cf. released NKVD/KGB archives). Is being tortured to death in the city, for political reasons, somehow less horrifying than being starved to death in the countryside?

Historians can argue whether or not the primary aim of the Holodomor was political repression of Ukrainians, clearly there were other elements and objectives in play as in any war, genocide, or jihad. However, the fact that other elements were in play does not negate the genocidal component of a specific nationality being destroyed.

If applying your suggestion of a dichotomy to WWII would you argue that there was no genocide against Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, etc.. because WWII was motivated by other objectives (economic for one)? WWII happened for many reasons but these factors do not negate the fact that Jews and others were specifically targeted because of who they were.

Stalin’s targeting of nationalistic peasants in Ukraine more severely than nationalistic city-dwellers doesn’t lessen the fact that they were targeted for their nationalism. The fact that this nationalism coincided with a revolt against communists and collectivization doesn’t lessen the genocidal aspects of the man-made famine.

Israel Charny “Century of Genocide” has said that it is easier to prove doubt and win than it is to prove what really took place. Those that exclude the Ukrainian Holodomor from discussion limit the discourse on genocide and risk succumbing to a “selective perception of evil”. The VR in its historic decision yesterday decided not to be among the deniers, minimizers and obfuscators of genocide that assault survivors one more time. By legally declaring the famine a genocide they have truly taken a pro-Ukraine step. My congratulations.

Best regards,


27 November 2006

Answer from Editor of What's On Regarding Holodomor

The following is an answer to my letter to the editor (see earlier post).
Dear [Petro],

Thank you for writing in and sharing your thoughts on last week's editorial. As you may have ascertained I try to use the weekly editorial spot to encourage discussion of issues which I consider to be of importance to today's Ukraine, and judging from the response I have received in the past few days that has certainly been the case this week. As a long-time writer on Ukrainian issues and qualified historian I am well aware of your arguments, much as I am familiar with the tactics employed by the Yanukovich administration when dealing with such core issues, but neither suggests that my position on the Holodomor is not the correct middle ground.

I agree with your statement that Stalin clearly targeted Ukrainian villages, much as the regime targeted villages in Russia, the Caucasian region and elsewhere during the collectivization period. That is accepted historical fact. However, the debate here is essentially one of semantics. If, as you seem to believe, it was a racial genocide specifically targeted against ethnic Ukrainians, this begs the question of why ethnic Ukrainians in the cities did not suffer widespread starvation and why the famine was limited to the rural population. At core the issue is whether these people were murdered because they were Ukrainians, or because they were peasants. It is an admittedly ghastly question, but one which the nature of these genocide declarations forces us to address. The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that they died because they were part of a peasantry which the Bolsheviks had earmarked for destruction. In my opinion this also constitutes an act of genocide but given the body of evidence which has now come to light it is intellectually dishonest to argue that this genocide was racial in nature or targeted the Ukrainian people as a whole.

I appreciate that this is an extremely emotive issue and would not seek to offend anyone's sensibilities or sense of grief and desire for historical justice, but do believe that the best way to achieve closure and build a better Ukraine is through an honest and open appraisal of the facts. Please feel free to share this response with your email circle. I would welcome further comment on the Holodomor issue and may even consider publishing a selection on the subject.

Best regards,
Peter Dickinson
This puts me in research mode. Since, essentially I'm a business guy selling widgets, I've delved off into uncharted waters. I clearly need to answer the following issues for myself if not for anyone else.
"...this begs the question of why ethnic Ukrainians in the cities did not suffer widespread starvation and why the famine was limited to the rural population. At core the issue is whether these people were murdered because they were Ukrainians, or because they were peasants..."

Incredible Go-Karting in Brovary

About a half-hour from the center of Kyiv, on the left-bank in Brovary, there is a huge shopping center, bowling alley, movie theater, and Go-Karting center called "Terminal". The building is gigantic and its interior design is very similar to Ultramarine (by the Train Station). Probably built by the same folks. The Go-Karting race tracks (there are two of them) are indoors and professionally built with imported, spring-reinforced sidewalls. The age minimum is 14 years old or 12 with an adult (with height minimum as well). It's not cheap at 80 uah per person for a 15-minute race. Helmet, driver's coveralls, gloves, and a printout of your lap times and race results is included. Hat's off to the helpful staff and their seemingly effortless, professional organization of the actual Go-Karting which helped make the whole evening excellent. The restaurant overlooking the track serves up some above average fare and the service quality was excellent. Drive east, Metro bridge, past the last Metro stop (Lisna) and then towards Chernihiv after leaving the Kyiv city limits. More details here: Terminal Go-Kart Website.

26 November 2006

Letter to the Editor of What's On

I chose to mark the 73rd anniversary of Holodomor by ranting against What's On's editorial. Is What's On owned by Russians or something?

Dear Mr. Dickinson,

I am a little surprised by your position regarding the Holodomor as stated in "From the Editor" in the 24-30 Nov 2006 edition of "What's On" magazine. Your suggestion that "Calling it genocide simply gives an ethnic slant to this man-made monstrosity that is both historically dubious and socially divisive." leaves a lot to be desired for anyone even remotely familiar with Ukrainian history and Holodomor.

There is ample evidence that Stalin specifically targeted Ukrainian villages during the famine. Multiple countries have passed resolutions identifying the famine as genocide. Regarding "divisiveness" if one surveys world history, it's clear that memory of suffering unites a nation. By the Verkhovna Rada naming the famine "genocide" they would be making a statement that Ukraine is a nation. Is that not unifying?

It is clear that Yanukovych and his cronies are playing their trumped up "socially divisive" card every time an issue of national identity arises. It is also clear that he is pushing his agenda in the media through increasingly overt means. I was hoping What's On would retain some objectivity in the face of Yanukovych's administration. I guess I was wrong. What's On is clearly pursuing an "ethnic slant" of its own, and it's not Ukrainian.

24 November 2006

Tania Update IV

The medical expenses at Okhmadyt for Tania's treatment are not an issue (per Mr. JH's commitment below). The CHOP specialists are continuing contact (and offering to do this indefinitely) with Okhmadyt regarding Tania and will recommend her travelling to CHOP if at any time they feel she could be treated better there.

Unfortunately, it looks like Tania, who is scheduled for another round of chemo-therapy in mid-December will not be going back to the hospital for treatment. The parents have decided to withdraw her from treatment.

We have received multiple emails from the doctors in the U.S. regarding Tania's withdrawal voicing their concern over this decision and urging us to convey to the family how important it is to continue. For example (from Dr. H.):
Dr.Z.C. let me know that she updated you today reconfirming results of our 11/14 consultation for Tetyana with oncologists at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): Leukemia Team physician meeting, which consists of senior level leukemia experts from CHOP as well as members of the bone marrow transplant team, today also supported continued care as proposed by physicians in Kyiv. Please relay this to Tetyana's parents and family. We hope that this will help Tetyana's parents and family find comfort and confidence in the care that Tetyana is receiving in Kyiv and to allow this care to resume as soon as possible to minimize any potential consequences of abruptly and prematurely stopped chemotherapy.

We have discussed all of the above with the family and we are hoping for Tania's parents to change their minds before it is too late.

Tania Update III

The teleconference with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia took place as scheduled. The excerpt below is from an email I received from Dr. Z.C:

The teleconference between the oncologist in Kyiv and CHOP experts on leukemia was excellent. Myself and Dr. H were also present. They directly discussed the methodology on which the diagnosis was made on Tania, including results of the chromosomal study. The doctors then discussed the treatment given so far and specific details about the doses of medications and reaction to the medications. The question of possible radiation to the brain and/or bone marrow transplantation were also discussed. Neither one of which is indicated for Tania's treatment.
The experts at CHOP found that everything was done correctly and the current treatment is very appropriate. They agreed 100% and they would not have done it differently. The current treatment is also identical to what CHOP would be doing if Tania was here. The specialists here are planning to be in continuous contact with the oncologist in Kyiv for follow-up. They do not feel that there are other alternatives for managing Tania that they or anybody else can offer. Everything is being done correctly.
The doctors here were very impressed with the Ukrainian physicians knowledge of oncology, as well as the command of her English language. If at any point, the situation changes and the doctors at CHOP feel they have something different or better to offer, they would recommend bringing Tania here.

13 November 2006

Tania Update II

The work to get Tania stateside for treatment continues. I had a business trip to the U.S. which left time for me to meet with Dr. Z.C., head of the Ukrainian Foundation and lead contact person working with CHOP. Tomorrow, 14.Nov is a big day for Tania's case as the CHOP oncologist at CHOP will be doing a video conference call with the head oncologist at Okhmadyt where Tania is being treated. Dr. Z.C. will provide the real-time translation.