Ukraine update with Mykola Nagorny
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Pictured: Photo courtesy of Elenora Dugosh Goodley
During their trip to Ukraine, Roy Dugosh, Elenora Dugosh Goodley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King posed in front of a Russian Orthodox Church.
When the Courier last reported on unrest in Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych had resigned. After he fled the country, his lavish estate - reminiscent of those of the Russian czars - was immediately converted into a tourist destination.
Shortly after Yanukovych's disappearance, troops backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin marched into the Crimea, an area of Ukraine jutting into the Black Sea. Mykola Nagorny, who serves as Bandera's sister city official in Ukraine, found it ironic that Putin had "sarcastically" denied that those forces were Russian.
During a March 16 referendum, Crimean voters overwhelmingly approved seceding from Ukraine - a decision that led to the area's rapid annexation by Russia ¬ to which the US and other nations responded with economic sanctions. Nagorny described events that occurred in Ukraine during the last couple of weeks as "lightning fast." He attributed this rapid acceleration to Putin's fear that the protests in favor of democracy and an affinity for the West might spread from Ukraine to Russia.
On Tuesday, March 25, Ukrainian troops turned over the last military base on the Crimean peninsula to the Russians. With Russia kicked out of the G-8, the now-Group of 7 met at The Hague in Brussels, pondering more stringent economic sanctions against the Russia. Appropriate responses, it is hoped, might put a hold on Putin's perceived plans to "annex" the eastern portion of Ukraine.
'Hard to feel safe'
Nagorny, former chairman of the Tysmenytsia District Council, was visiting New York when the tumult began in his country. Although Tysmenytsia is located in the western part of the Ukraine, many of the city's residents actively participated in the protests in Kiev, Nagorny said, adding, "So it's hard to feel safe." He noted that many strategically important sites in the area could be subject to attacks by invading forces.
Nagorny indicated that Russia's troubles with Ukraine stemmed from Russia's conflict with the country of Georgia in 2008. At that time, Georgia wanted to join NATO. In 2013, Ukraine expressed a desire to align with the European Union (EU) rather than Russia.
Those in the know predicted the situation would also occur in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, their predictions come true," Nagorny wrote in an email. "This is the direct fault of the authorities led by President Yanukovych. The actions and inactions (of that government) contributed to this."
Nagorny also pointed out that senior Ukrainian officials, including the former chairman and deputy chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, who were privy to classified data, also held dual Russian citizenship.
In response to Putin's explanation that he invaded Crimea to protect the "Russian-speaking population," Nagorny said that in Crimea about 53 percent of the population speaks Russian. He added, however, "They all held passports from Ukraine."
According to Nagorny, Putin's "protégés" in Crimea backed the "pseudo referendum," which was conducted without international election observers. The outcome, Putinistas insist, indicated that the population "freely expressed that Crimean residents wished to separate from Ukraine and join Russia," Nagorny wrote.
"With the actions Russia has shown to the world, it's become apparent that signed agreements mean nothing. This is the worst thing for the world," he lamented.
In response the Russian annexation, Ukrainian officials have mobilized their military and several army divisions stationed on the mainland are now on combat readiness status.
However, as a pragmatist, Nogorny believes that given their foothold in Crimea, the Russians will not withdraw, but rather will push further inland.
'Quick & efficient reaction'
"Therefore, the reaction of the international community to the established borders of redistribution should be quick and efficient. Best of all would be the quick imposition of real economic sanctions."
In Brussels on March 21, leaders of the European Union reaffirmed the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement, a political treaty creating a framework for cooperation between EU and non-EU countries. According to Nagorny, after the presidential elections Ukraine, the economic portion of the agreement will be prepared and signed, leading to a gradual alignment of Ukraine's policies and legislation to those of the EU.
Ukraine elections will take place on May 25, with the nominating process completed in early April. "But, in my opinion, Putin's further actions will be designed to disrupt the electoral process," Nagorny wrote.
'Spirit of democracy'
Before closing his email, Nagorny expressed anxiety for his family, who remain in Tysmenytsia. "Consider that the residents of our region, as well as those in the adjacent cities, always possessed a keen sense of liberty, freedom and the spirit of democracy. In different historic periods, they participated actively in the struggle for freedom and independence of Ukraine."
He explained that in 1909, Stepan Bandera, one of the leaders of Ukrainian Nationalists, was born in the Kalush District in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Bandera helped write the Act of Ukrainian State in Lviv on June 30, 1941 - just eight days after Germany attacked the Soviet Union during World War II.
Members of Bandera's Ukrainian Nationalist Movement considered Nazi Germany to be a powerful ally in their struggle against the Soviet Union. Instead the German leadership arrested the newly formed government and exiled them to concentration camps in Germany. Bandera was not released until September 1944. In 1959, he was assassinated by the KGB.
Nagorny wrote, "For me, it is symbolic that the name of your beautiful city is also Bandera. Also, your attention to what is happening in Ukraine is a testament to the experience of peace and tranquility to any country of the world. For that I thank you."