Author Archives: RomanInUkraine

Family Moments

My son and I often wrestle and clown around before I read him bed time stories to put him to sleep. Our not-yet-one-year-old daughter now recognized our routine, and loves watching. She smiles and laughs.

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Once my son and I were playing with bristle blocks. My wife had to run an errant, so our daughter was with us on a mattress on the floor. My son and I built planes and rockets and would pretend they’d fight in the air. After a few rounds, my daughter lifted a single block into the air and sputtered making a sound like an engine.

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An old friend of mine from Brazlilian Jiu Jitsu visited our apartment. Almost ten years ago, he and I founded the Lviv Grappling Club together. He’s a great young man — courageous, tough, honest fair. My daughter, who is usually cautious with strangers, pulled herself to her feet in her baby bed, and stood peering over the side and smiling. My wife and I were both surprised and amused. It seemed like she was trying to get attention. I hope this is a sign that she recognizes good men.

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Jealousy doesn’t seem to have been a problem with the kids. The few times I noticed Danny looking solemnly at us from a distance while my wife and I cooed at our daughter, I immediately brought him in with humor. I went over to him joking things like: “oh, look how quickly his hair has grown out,” “and teeth too. Look at those little teeth.” “Oh, and it seems he can already talk, that’s amazing,” “and walk too, look how well . . . and run. He can already run. Hey! Come back here!”

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My wife was bathing our daughter and my son was playing minecraft. I was upstairs working. First he called to me, asking how to say “parkan” in English. “Fence,” I answered. Then he asked me wife to write fence on the computer. (He was playing in creative mode where all items and materials are accessible.) My wife said she couldn’t because she was bathing our daughter. Our son suggested he hold her while my wife runs to the computer and types “fence.” He’d never done that before so it was somewhat of a bold idea, but he’s been pretty careful and protective of her. So he held her firmly by the shoulders in her little bath so that she would fall forward into the water, and my wife typed fence. Our daughter was, as usual, delighted by his attention.

Everything is taken care of! $10,000 each for the Holy Icon!

The corrupt late-mayor of Kharkiv, a city in Eastern Ukraine and once Ukraine’s capital, died in December. He spent the last few years of his life in a wheelchair after being shot in the back in a failed assassination attempt. One rumor is that the assassination attempt was revenge for failing to deliver Kharkiv into the hands of the Russians during the 2014 invasion, but he was involved in so much corruption that anything is possible.

Kernes was literally a three-card monty dealer at a bazaar earlier in his life. Yes, Ukrainians voted him in as mayor — multiple times, no less. There seems to be a preference for individual strong men, especially in the East.

I caught rumor of the following story that involved mayor Kernes:

Most of mayors of major Ukrainian cities gathered for the birthday of a president — I’m not sure if it was Poroshenko, or Yanukovych. As a gift, one mayor from a Western City brought expensive alcohol and an old, first edition book by a historical Ukrainian figure. Kernes was lively and outspoken as the mayors arrived. He only understood Russian, and spoke in this aggressive slang of Soviet strong men which is impossible to convey in English.

“Everything is take of,” announced Kernes in his Russian slang. “The gift will be this holy icon,” he explained waving it around. “$10,000 from each of you.”

After some consideration, the Western mayor gently explained that he hadn’t agreed to it, and that he already brought a gift.

“What are you talking about?” Demanded Kernes. “It has been blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Listen to me, I arranged everything. It will be $10,000.”

The western mayor politely refused, and for a while Kernes was sour, but then returned to his usual self.

Corruption Battle Between Oligarchs to Begin Building New Ukrainian Ski Resort

Here’s the story:

Ukrainian ski resort to undergo 500 mln Euro investment

A Carpathian resort town is due to undergo extensive investment and development to turn it into a major all year round destination.

The investment will be provided by Vitaly Antonov, owner of Galnaftogaz and the OKKO gas station network.

The town in question is Slavsk, located just over an hour away from Lviv city and easily accessible from its airport. Over 500 million Euros is due to be spent on Slavske and the surrounding resort villages to provide a modern rival to Bukovel.

Antonov has moved his business interests to the Skole District (the municipality in which Slavsk is located) and in an official announcement at the end of October, Skole District Council Leader Mikhail Luchinets stated that “ Since 1st January OKKO Group has registered in Slavske and are now taxpayers in the region contributing 3.2 million Dolalrs monthly. The plans laid out by OKKO include the construction of a summer-winter resort”.

According to Luchinets, OKKO’s corporation tax payments will go towards improvement of local infrastructure to help cope with the expansion of Slavsk and the surrounding villages.

https://www.uaproperty.com/news/ukrainian-ski-resort-to-undergo-500-mln-euro-investment/

Apparently there was a battle of corruption that demonstrates the realities of Ukraine’s corruption – but also lack of sophistication. I think corruption in the US is there too, but it’s more sophisticated and hidden.

Right now, there is only one big, modern ski resort in Ukraine – Bukovel – owned by the super-corrupt, and super-powerful Igor Kolomoiski. His people attempted to bribe both individual property owners, and local officials to prevent the construction of this new resort. Vitali Antonov’s people had a system of counter bribes — to both local property owners and local officials, and in the end they triumphed. I heard a rumor once that Vitali himself had made exasperated comments about the amount of time he spent in restaurants and saunas with local officials before they would finally trust him.

Lawyers are asking to transfer Sternenko to Kyiv: there are threats to life in the Odessa pre-trial detention center

Ukrainian activist Serhiy Sternenko was attacked by representatives of law enforcement agencies in Odessa. That is why Serhiy’s stay in the Odessa pre-trial detention center, where he was taken after the verdict was announced, poses a real threat to his life and health.”

Details : Sternenko’s lawyer Masi Nayem filed a statement addressed to the head of the Odessa pre-trial detention center Serhiy Chyshkala with a request to transfer Sternenko to Kyiv.

The law takes 3 days to consider the application. The defense hopes for an objective decision from the head of the Odessa pre-trial detention center as soon as possible.

What preceded : On February 23, the Odessa court for the abduction and torture of a man sentenced Serhiy Sternenko, an ex-leader of the Odessa Right Sector, and his colleague Ruslan Demchuk to 7 years and 3 months in prison with confiscation of half of their property.

The purpose of the attack, according to the prosecution, was to seize the property of the victim Serhiy Shcherbych – his bank card and telephone. The court found it an aggravating circumstance that the crime was allegedly committed “in connection with the victim’s performance of official duties” – Shcherbych was a deputy of the district council. The court also drew attention to the fact that Sternenko spoke about his negative attitude to the political views of the victim.

Both defendants completely denied their involvement in Shcherbych’s abduction. Even before the verdict was announced, Sternenko stated that he considered the court’s decision to be politically motivated. He assured that he would appeal the verdict.

Background :

In 2018, three attempts were made on Sternenko , during the third, on May 24, the attacker was killed . Police are investigating the attacker’s death as premeditated murder. Sternenko claims that he defended himself.

https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2021/02/23/7284460/

Nine Arrested in violent Paris attack which left 15-year-old Ukrainian in a coma

French authorities are investigating the violent assault of a 15-year-old Ukrainian schoolboy in Paris.

The victim, identified only as Yuriy, was left in a coma after the attack in the wealthy 15th arrondissement of the capital city on January 15.

A widely-shared video of the beating showed a dozen young people in hooded jackets kicking and beating the teenager to the ground, before abandoning him.

https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/25/yuriy-france-probes-violent-paris-attack-that-left-ukrainian-15-in-a-coma

The attack in a busy and well-heeled neighbourhood of Paris shocked residents, though police have noted violent disputes between rival bands of youths in the area.

The detained suspects — eight minors and one young adult — were being investigated for attempted murder, gang violence and theft, prosecutors said.

Nataliya Kruchenyk, mother of the 15-year-old victim named only as Yuriy, said this week he had emerged from a coma induced by doctors following the January 15 attack near a shopping centre in the 15th district.

Kruchenyk said her son had left school with friends when he was accosted by around a dozen people, a scene captured by a surveillance camera.

https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210128-french-police-arrest-nine-over-15-year-old-boy-s-brutal-gang-beating-in-paris

Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki, formerly appeared in meeting with Russian FM wearing hammer and sickle hat

a 2014 image resurfaced featuring her posing with her then-boss, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova during her tenure as a State Department spokesperson.

Psaki is seen wearing a pink shapka, or fur hat, that bears the communist hammer-and-sickle logo as part of a gift exchange between herself and her Russian counterpart Zakharova.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/usa-today-fact-checking-jen-psaki-hammer-and-sickle-hat

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For Comparison:

Jerusalem Post: Far-right protesters in Ukraine demand Israel apologize for communism

After Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine condemned the honoring of Nazi collaborators in the former Soviet republic, dozens of people rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv demanding that Jews apologize for Soviet oppression.

The far-right activists called on Israel and the Jews to assume responsibility specifically for Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s and is widely believed to have been caused by the government of Joseph Stalin, then the leader of the Soviet Union.

https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/far-right-protesters-in-ukraine-demand-israel-apologize-for-communism-654711

Happy New Year!

Last night, we drove to Kyiv with the kids, ate at one of our favorite restaurants, located in the chic central mall, Tsum. Then walked up to the Christmas tree by Saint Sofia’s, and on the way home, stopped at another mall which has a huge play area with carnival rides and a trampoline room.

It was a pretty good New Year’s Eve.

Poland Just Stopped Big Tech Censorship in Its Tracks With Single Shot

From https://redstate.com/:

As reported by PolandIN.com, while the Big Tech battle continues to rage in the U.S., the conservative government in Poland has enacted a new law to hold companies accountable for what now will be illegal censorship or suppression of legal content.

If there is no violation of Polish law, social media companies cannot remove content or block accounts, according to the draft of the “Act for the Freedom to Express One’s Views and Obtain and Disseminate Information on the Internet.”

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro of Poland “announced the legal initiative earlier this month aimed at enabling internet users to file complaints against the removal of online posts as well as the creation of a special court for freedom of speech,” according to Poland In.

“Under its provisions, social media services will not be allowed to remove content or block accounts if the content on them does not break Polish law.

“In the event of removal or blockage, a complaint can be sent to the platform, which will have 24 hours to consider it.

“Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the court for the return of access. The court will consider complaints within seven days of receipt and the entire process is to be electronic.”

Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai were unavailable for comments. [sarc]

Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice, noted that the new legislation is “supposed to protect against excessive interference of the moderators of this content.”

“The draft law that we have prepared meets various disturbing signals, and on the other hand, guarantees the possibility of expressing your opinions, as long as they do not violate the law.

“A balance must be found between the exercise of freedom and the abuse thereof. Today in Europe, censorship solutions are sought rather than to protect freedom of speech.”

And Ziobor nailed it.

“Often, the victims of tendencies for ideological censorship are also representatives of various groups operating in Poland, whose content is removed or blocked, just because they express views and refer to values that are unacceptable from the point of view of communities… with an ever-stronger influence on the functioning of social media.”

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a confusing time in Ukraine.

Most of the country follows the “old calendar” and celebrates Christmas Eve on January 6th. The Catholics and many under the way of Western traditions celebrate December 25th. And the hang over of the godless Soviet Union is to celebrate the tree and exchange gifts on New Years.