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Valley Ukrainians concerned about unrest in homeland

Published: Tue, March 4, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Denise Dick



The conflict in Ukraine after Russian troops took over Crimea is no longer a Ukrainian problem, said the Rev. Lubomyr Zhybak, administrator at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, Byzantine Rite.

“It’s an international problem,” he said.

Father Zhybak, a Ukrainian citizen, came to Holy Trinity in January 2013 after returning to the United States in December 2012. Before that, he studied five years in Stamford, Conn., three years in Yonkers, N.Y., and two years in Rome and was ordained in 2008. He then served five years in the priesthood in Ukraine.

His parents, sister and the family of his wife remain in Ukraine, and they are fearful.

“They are afraid of a war,” said Father Zhybak, 36.

Problems began in Ukraine last November when the former government announced it wasn’t strengthening its agreement with the European Union in favor of closer cooperation with Moscow.

That led to protests that were quelled by police, resulting in bloodshed and the deaths of three protesters.

Last month, Ukraine’s president and protest leaders agreed to form a new government and conduct an election, but the president fled the country after the country’s parliament cut his powers.

Over the weekend, Russian troops took over Crimea.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine territory, saying Putin should end the destabilization operation quickly.

“All Americans should be aware that Russia can be a potentially dangerous player,” Ryan said in a statement. “There are sensitive economic and political interests tied into this current situation, and any action on behalf of the United States and its allies will certainly invite retaliation from the Russians. But this type of behavior is unacceptable, and the world community must intervene in a firm and pragmatic way.”

Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested actions including asset freezes, visa bans, a disruption of trade and a slowdown in business investments in Russia, Ryan’s statement said.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons stashes. It gave them up in the early 1990s as part of an agreement under which Russia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom promised to respect Ukrainian territory.

Father Zhybak believes the international community — the United Nations, the European Union — should intervene by any peaceful means necessary.

There was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine, he said. It was an act of aggression against a country that wants to have peaceful relations with Russia.

The priest questions how Putin, who purports to be Christian, could direct his military to invade a country with which it has no conflict.

Ukrainians are a peaceful people, he said.

Father Zhybak pointed to the Ukrainian flag with a blue band on top, symbolizing the sky, and a yellow band across the bottom, symbolizing wheat fields.

“It’s the union of heaven and earth,” he said. “Can you really get a more peaceful symbol than that?”

He hopes the Russian people take to the streets to show their government that they’re not in favor of a war with Ukraine.

“I’m asking my parishioners to pray for a conversion of the hearts of the aggressors,” Father Zhybak said.

Other Mahoning Valley residents of Ukrainian descent also voiced concerns about the unrest.

“The Russians want to take Ukraine under their power,” said Steve Hawryluk of Weathersfield Township. “They don’t want the Ukrainian people to have any freedom.”

His parents emigrated from Ukraine to France in 1939 where Hawryluk was born. The family immigrated to the United States in 1952.

The 72-year-old has only second and third cousins remaining in the country and says he doesn’t know them but still worries about what’s happening in the country.

“I’d like to see Russia out of there,” Hawryluk said, adding that Putin likely moved in believing Ukraine’s government is weak.

Hawryluk visited in 1995, taking his mother, who was 80, back to her home country to visit friends.

“People were still scared of the Russians no matter what they did,” Hawryluk said.

He’d like to see the U.S. get involved but believes it will take some kind of military intervention to turn back Putin.

“I probably won’t ever go back,” Hawryluk said. “I don’t know anyone there.”

Alex Dobransky’s parents came to the United States from Ukraine in 1910.

He’d like Putin to leave Ukraine, even if it means a split to the country.

“People on the eastern side of Ukraine, there are a lot more Russians on that side than on the western side,” Dobransky, of Canfield, said. “The people on the west side want to be associated more with the rest of Europe and to be free, of course.”


1Attis(1134 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

After the fascist coup in the Ukraine, Kerry went there today and pledged to give them $1 billion of our money. Imagine how $1 billion would help out the distressed Mahoning Valley. Happy Fat Tuesday, folks!

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2James_S(268 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

We're told Russia has "invaded" Ukraine. (It's actually Crimea that Russia is protecting because the Crimeans want Russia's protection from the EU/US/NATO invasion (coup) on the Ukraine)

We're told the protesters demanding Ukraine joining the EU were "peaceful". (Fact is that the EU "peaceful" protesters were funded by EU/US/NATO and they wielded guns and Molotov Cocktails and forcefully took over government buildings in Kiev and ousted a "democratically elected" president.)
It's actually the other way around-

EU/US/NATO invaded Russia via Ukraine.

Russia has every right to protect Ukraine- especially Crimea because the majority of Crimeans are Russians and they want Russia's protection

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3jojuggie(1723 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

President Teddy Roosevelt,"speak softly & carry a big stick."

President Obama, the military cut President, "Mr.Putin, please be nice."

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4lwzky332(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

No one invaded Russia. It started when the "elected" president would not join the EU as the Ukrainians wanted. The people did not like it. They wanted, and still want to be, a part of a more democratic society and part of the international community as they would be by joining the EU. They did not and do not want their country to go back under Russian rule by joining Putin's Eurasian Union. Ukraine has had such a difficult and oppressive history under Russia, and they do not plan to go back.

The people protested peacefully when this happened. For months they did this and nothing changed. Things turned violent when Yanukovych figured it was time to do something about these protests, it had been enough for him. The people stood their ground, and the killing started. The president fled and the new government took over, voted in by Parliament, democratically. There was a moment of peace.

Then came Russia right after the Olympics and here we are today.

Russia has no right to protect Ukraine and needs to stay out. He wants it because it is his biggest piece to his Eurasian puzzle, and without it, it's not much.

There doesn't have to necessarily be military intervention to stop Russia. There are ways to stop him financially, as reported by a CNN commentator. Putin is behaving in a way that has 19th and 20th century thinking. You don't quite do that in the 21st century where there is global interdependency. As told to President Obama by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, she's not sure he's in touch with reality. "In another world," she said.

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5DSquared(1788 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Geez, All the smart Gub'mint officials can't figure out how Putin could do this? Never heard of the KGB, huh? I guess the Ukraine shouldn't have listened to Bill Clinton and given up their nukes! The ODumbo Doctrine at work! God help the free world!

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6jojuggie(1723 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

This "letter to the editor" appeared in our local Florida newspapere this AM:

Russia's President Vladimir Putin knows our President has little, if any, backbone. President Obama's hollow words that "there will be costs" are just a tasty snack for the adoring US press that kiss Obama's feet & the clueless international community.

Putin will chart his own course in the Ukraine & all that Obama will do is talk about it, just like Syria.

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7jojuggie(1723 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

The Iranian news agency Tuesday published a political cartoon mocking the US president, calling it: “All Options on Table.” This Time for Russia.” In a jab at US non-intervention in Ukraine, the cartoon portrays Obama peering forlornly into an empty paint can with the label “Red Line” while Russian President Vladimir Putin walks away saying, “I think you used it all on Syria.”

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8jojuggie(1723 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

gdog, this message board is to debate, but you Dems don't know how to debate. Calling someone a name is not a debate.

The dems are in big trouble with the failing Obamacare, & with the whole world looking down on us because of our weak leader who painted that RED LINE in Syria.

Many in the US Senate, who are running for reelection, want no part of Obama's help. Likewise, those in the US House want no part of him. The only thing Obama is good at is raising money. He is doing that now when he should be back in DC working at his job of being president of these United States.

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9Elf2(75 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Would that be the same Reagan that sold arms to Iran?

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10evio(43 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Root cause of it all, Benghazi and homosexuals

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