Community News

Friday, November 27, 2009

Call for Volunteer Election Observers

Ukraine 2010 Presidential Elections

Deadline for Applications is December 15, 2009

Toronto, Ontario -November 27, 2009 - The Canada Ukraine Foundation, an official Observer Mission Agency recognized by the Central Election Commission of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which successfully monitored several elections in Ukraine since 2004, are organizing an Election Observer Mission for the 2010 Presidential Elections. The election will take place on January 17, 2010 with an anticipated second round of voting on February 7, 2010 and application forms for interested individuals are now available online.

We invite you to apply for one of the following two observer options available:

Option A: Team Leaders: a 3 to 6 week commitment for January 8 - 23, 2010 and/or January 25 to February 13, 2010;

Option B: Short-term observers: must commit to a 9- day commitment for either January 12 - January 20th or from February 2 - 10, 2010.

Volunteers will be required to cover the cost of their travel expenses to Ukraine and their personal medical insurance. You must also ensure that you will be present in Kyiv, Ukraine during the required times and dates as outlined for each position, and be available for training, election observing and post election debriefing both in Ukraine and Canada (pre-mission training dates and locations to be announced). Failure to participate in the full training schedule will disqualify the observer from participation in the program.

All applicants will be contacted to confirm that your application has been received.

Ukraine is at a historical crossroads and it is essential that this election meet the norms for a legitimate election process during Ukraine's continued journey toward democracy. The people of Ukraine's voice and vote in these elections is as critical as ever. Support the process by becoming an internationally accredited election observer.

The deadline for all applications is December 15, 2009.
More information and the application form are available online at

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holodomor Bill Introduced in British Columbia

On the 76th anniversary of the famine genocide in Ukraine 1932-33

November 26, 2009-Victoria, British Columbia- Yesterday a private member's bill was introduced in the province of British Columbia recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide.

New Democrat MLA for Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, introduced legislation recognizing "Holodomor" as the "famine and genocide that killed millions of Ukrainians during the period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union." The legislation proposes that the fourth Saturday in November every year be commemorated as Holodomor Memorial Day in B.C. and recognizes the survivors of Holodomor who moved to British Columbia and made a positive contribution to the province.

Shown below are 14 representatives of the province's Ukrainian community who were present at the reading in support of Mr. Ralston and his efforts in promoting Holodomor recognition and awareness.

Left to Right:Valentyna Kaspryk (survivor), Alexandra Ciacka, Ludmilla Weaver, Robert Herchak, Myroslav Petriw (Secretary-Treasurer UCC-BC), MLA for Surrey-Whalley Bruce Ralston,Rev. Edward Kwiatkowski, MLA for West Kootenay Katrina Conroy, Roman Brunwald, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers Sue Hammel, MLA far Vancouver-Kensington Mable Elmore (not pictured-Ihor Stanley Osobik and Maria Pomircha)

The provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor and honouring the survivors of this crime against humanity.

National Holodomor Awareness Week continues through November 29. For a list of commemorative events in your community visit

Ukraine Remembers - the World Acknowledges

Україна пам'ятає - Світ визнає

For further information:
UCC Media Contact:
Darla Penner
Telephone: 204-942-4627

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

National Holodomor Memorial Day

November 28, 2009

November 24, 2009-Winnipeg, Canada- In acknowledgemnet of National Holodomor Aawareness Week, a special commemerative ceremony took place on Parliament Hill today in Ottawa. Many Canadians are participating in commemorative events during Holodomor Awareness Week which runs through November 29.

Saturday, November 28 has been oficially designated as Holodomor Memorial Day in Canada. On this day, Canadians will honour the memory of the victims of this famine-genocide with a moment of silence at 9:00 a.m. and light candles of remembrance in their homes.

On Friday, November 27, in acknowledgement of Holodomor Memorial Day, many of the school divisions across Canada have planned commemorative activities.

Holodomor events include lectures, film nights, discussions with survivors and commemorative services.

Memorial services will be conducted in churches across the country on Sunday, November 29.

For a complete listing of events in Canada, please visit

National Holodomor Awareness Week
November 23 - 29, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ukraine's outbreak of ineptitude

Michael Bociurkiw

Special to Globe and Mail Update Published on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 6:54PM EST

Ukrainians are suffering from a double dose of fever: preparations for January's contentious presidential election, and what appears to be a massive outbreak of the potentially deadly H1N1 virus.

Since early November, more than 1.4 million Ukrainians have become ill, about 300 have died and more than 78,000 have been hospitalized. What began as a concentrated epidemic in the country's nationalistic west has now spread nationwide, forcing neighbours such as Moldova and Slovakia to close their borders.

If the deaths are confirmed to be H1N1-related, it would be one of the world's most serious outbreaks of swine flu. Little wonder that Yulia Tymoshenko, the normally unflappable Prime Minister, has reacted in a panic – ordering schools closed, banning public gatherings and cinema showings and even suggesting the quarantine of some western regions.

The epidemic comes at a bad time for Ms. Tymoshenko for two reasons. Her government was caught completely unprepared for an epidemic – there is not one dose of vaccine in the country and little in the way of preventative measures. And, if not handled wisely before January's voting, the crisis could severely damage the stylish front-runner, known for her trademark braided hairpiece.

It should surprise few people that the medical emergency has caught the government off guard. The ministries charged with social services and the well-being of Ukrainians (Health and Family, Youth and Sports) have been weakened under successive governments through major budget cuts and sheer neglect. It's not uncommon to walk into either ministry during the winter and see staff shivering in their coats.

As late as mid-summer, little information was available to the public on how to protect against H1N1. The government ignored many warning signs, including World Health Organization pleas to stockpile drugs, face masks and other flu-fighting materials. When the outbreak hit, Ms. Tymoshenko flippantly advised her people to protect themselves by eating garlic and lemons.

It isn't only H1N1 that has put Ukrainians' lives at stake. The Health Ministry has no contingency plans to replace the nearly nine million doses of expired measles, mumps and rubella vaccine that must be destroyed in coming weeks and months – themselves a legacy from an ill-fated United Nations initiative that got caught up in a miasma of bureaucratic ineptitude, manipulation and attacks from a well-financed anti-vaccination movement.

The government deserves harsh condemnation from neighbouring and European governments for its almost contemptuous handling of public health emergencies. Few would disagree, for example, that Kiev has catastrophically fumbled its response to HIV and AIDS, which is growing faster in Ukraine and Russia than anywhere else outside Africa. According to UNAIDS, Ukraine has the most severe AIDS epidemic in Europe. If progress isn't stepped up soon, the adult prevalence rate could reach a staggering 3.5 per cent by 2014. Young Ukrainians disproportionately bear the brunt of the epidemic: More than 80 per cent of those living with HIV are under 30. According to one estimate, almost 20 per cent of all new cases are children born HIV-positive.

So severe is the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine – it has claimed at least 22,000 lives – that some multilateral institutions say it's contributing to the country's demographic decline. The population has plummeted by about six million since the early 1990s, and according to a new World Bank study, Ukraine has the highest “depopulation rate” for all of Europe. Adult male deaths are at levels comparable to countries with less than one-fifth its per capita GNP.

When NGOs or donors try to help Ukraine, their well-meaning interventions are often stymied by red tape, bureaucratic ineptitude or corruption. Aid destined for needy Ukrainians is routinely delayed, misappropriated or stolen. It's a sad commentary on a country that gained such an enormous reservoir of goodwill in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution. Some people have compared it to a failed state. As one colleague put it: “It's like watching a long, painful sunset.”

Ukraine's challenge is to deal with the social and political issues that contribute to the spread of H1N1 and other epidemics. This includes strengthening ministries that deal with health issues – including boosting their surveillance capabilities and giving them the budgets to stockpile essential drugs. Humanitarian aid from Canadian and other donors needs to be cleared quickly and treated with the sanctity that it deserves. In short, Ukraine needs to behave like a responsible member of the international community by preventing the spread of diseases before they spread out of control and threaten its neighbours.

Canadian Michael Bociurkiw recently completed an eight-month humanitarian mission to Ukraine and is writing a book on the aid business. He is part of the management team of the HUM news agency.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ukraine, WHO and the Geopolitics of Swine Flu Panic

by F. William Engdahl

Global Research, November 17, 2009

Latest reports of what is being called a deadly Swine Flu outbreak in Ukraine according to on sight reports appear to be a political concoction by a threatened government to avoid election defeat and possibly declare martial law. The details indicate how convenient the current WHO "Swine Flu" H1N1 "pandemic" scare is for regimes in trouble.

Worldwide media reports in recent days have painted a picture of Ukraine as being under the Black Plague or worse. Pittsburgh Swine Flu "mapper" Dr Henry Niman had earlier predicted that H5N1 Avian Flu would mutate into a deadly human-to-human pandemic. It didn’t.

Niman’s map of the spread of alleged H1N1 Swine Flu since April has given the WHO, the US Government and CNN and major media a convenient graphic to create the image of a new type of "bubonic plague" threatening mankind unless we react with massive doses of untested vaccines from Big Pharma. .

Early on Niman reported about events in Ukraine: "The rapid rise in reported infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the past few days raise concerns that the virus is transmitting very efficiently…the spike in fatalities and the frequency in hemorrhagic cases in Ukraine have raised concerns." Niman added the alarming note, "The number of infected patients has almost doubled to just under ½ million, compared to the report two days ago."

That’s pretty scary stuff. It conjures images of the reports of the Black Death in 1348 which is said to have killed up to 60% of Europe’s population. Though that history has been challenged, the image as well as the equally terrifying if incorrect panic image of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918, are being applied in Ukraine.

Exact information about what is really taking place in Ukraine is far from easy. The country is one of the most politically complex and economically distressed states in Europe. One plausible hypothesis emerges from the scientific researches of Dr Lawrence Broxmeyer MD of the New York Institute of Medical Research.

Broxmeyer’s research suggests that the WHO and CDC are covering up a worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis, and focusing attention on flu instead. Indeed recently the WHO changed its categories of causes of death to lump death from influenza in the same group as death from tuberculosis and other pulmonary disease. Given the present Swine Flu hysteria, any pulmonary death seems to be reported as "death from H1N1 influenza." In a passing note the report typically notes the patient also suffered from lung problems.

Broxmeyer states, "Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are fully aware of a far more serious and ongoing tuberculosis Pandemic in the world today. Yet they choose to downplay the link, disregarding the similar flu-like symptoms tuberculosis often begins with. WHO freely admits that there were approximately 1.8 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available as well as that presently about one-third of the world's population, or two billion people, carry the TB bacteria."1

Broxmeyer is convinced there is a massive coverup of tuberculosis deaths using "flu" as the diversion: "Khomenko's 1993 study showed that the explosive contagiousness of just such influenza-like forms of tuberculosis are exactly the stuff that previous epidemics and pandemics could have been made of... But back in the US, the CDC and NIH seem to feel differently, ignoring everything but "the virus". There was much the same "Influenza" talk when in 1990, a new multi-drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis outbreak took place in a large Miami municipal hospital. Soon thereafter, similar outbreaks in three New York City hospitals left many sufferers dying within weeks. By 1992, approximately two years later, drug-resistant tuberculosis had spread to deadly mini-epidemics in seventeen US states, and was reported, not by the American, but the international media, as out of control. Viral forms of swine, avian and human TB can be transmitted from one species to another."2

He points to the similarities between the onset of the much-cited 1918 "Spanish Influenza" epidemic and that of today. However, as Broxmeyer notes, "a Press Release, issued on August 19, 2008, by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), contains a striking finding and conclusion: The 20 to 40 million deaths worldwide from the great 1918 Influenza ("Flu") Pandemic were NOT due to "flu" or a virus, but to pneumonia caused by massive bacterial infection." 3

Reports of low flying aircraft spraying in regions of Ukraine where outbreaks and lung-related deaths reportedly took place cannot be verified. What is clear however is that there is no scientifically rigorous proof of deaths or diseases that can be labeled H1N1 Influenza A in Ukraine.

Reality check?

The WHO, the organization responsible for declaration of the H1N1 Pandemic last summer, allowing governments like the USA and Ukraine to declare martial law and a national state of emergency, suspending all rights and imposing arrests and detentions, has validated the dubious Ukraine claims of out-of-control spread of Swine Flu. A WHO press statement November 3 declared, "Laboratory testing in Ukraine has confirmed pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in samples taken from patients in two of the most affected regions. As the pandemic virus has rapidly become the dominant influenza strain worldwide, it can be assumed that most cases of influenza in Ukraine are caused by the H1N1 virus."

The WHO added, "The outbreak in Ukraine may be indicative of how the virus can behave in the northern hemisphere during the winter season, particularly in health care settings typically found in Eastern Europe. Given the potential significance of this outbreak as an early warning signal, WHO commends the government of Ukraine for its transparent reporting and open sharing of samples." The samples have been sent to the WHO Mill Hill Influenza Reference Lab in London, not exactly inspiring confidence in a scientifically honest report given the record of UK health authorities in manipulating data to please the vaccine giants like GlaxoSmithKline. As of this writing, bizarre enough the WHO has yet to utter a single word of the test results at Mill Hill.

Nonetheless, WHO "strongly recommends early treatment with the antiviral drugs, oseltamivir or zanamivir, for patients who meet treatment criteria, even in the absence of a positive laboratory test confirming H1N1 infection." That means Tamiflu, the highly dangerous drug whose major shareholder includes former Pentagon head Don Rumsfeld. And it means GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the rival Relenza drug.

Ukrainian election geopolitics

The bizarre developments in Ukraine over the past two weeks are being blamed inside the country on intense Ukrainian election politics. In four months national elections in Ukraine are due. Among rival candidates are Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her chief rival, Arseniy Yatseniuk.

Since Washington financed and organized the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought a pro-NATO Victor Yushchenko in as President, Ukraine politics has been a geopolitical tug-of war between Moscow and Washington. How the current political games around allegations of H1N1 panic play into that tug of war is not yet clear.

The recent speech in Warsaw by Vice President Joe Biden offering Poland and the Czech Republic a "new and improved" version of US anti-missile defense against Russia only four weeks after Obama announced the US was backing out of a controversial earlier missile defense plan for the two eastern European countries underscores the shambles of US strategic policy towards Russia.

Russia has been quick to take advantage as might be expected, as a US missile shield on its borders, as I detail in Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, gives the US a long-sought nuclear primacy over its only potential strategic rival on the planet. At that point the resistance of the rest of the world to incalculable or objectionable US policies, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia or wherever, becomes moot.

It’s clear Moscow has been working quietly to bring Ukraine, an original part of Kiev Rus, and a strategically essential part of the Russian economy, back into a more friendly "NATO-free" relationship after five years of Orange Revolution chaos in Ukraine under Yushchenko. .

Yatseniuk, a 35 year old former banker and aide to Washington’s darling, President Viktor Yushchenko, has charged that Tymoshenko is deliberately fostering unnecessary panic in order to impose martial law and suspend elections that she might well lose to Yatseniuk.

There definitely are political games going on by one or another faction in the economically devastated Ukraine. Oleksandr Bilovol, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Health, claims the outbreak of flu cases in Ukraine has been essentially contained in 11 out of 25 Ukrainian regions, with the number of people allegedly stricken with H1N1 only 15% higher than figures reported in previous years. "Figures in other the regions are in line with 2007 and 2008," Bilovol said. As well the number of reported deaths is also in line with deaths annually attributed to ordinary influenza.

Could it be the reports of Ukraine "Swine Flu" pandemic in Ukraine have more to do with the country’s geopolitical location?

Tymoshenko declared the outbreak as the threat of the third level – the highest possible – to unlock spending of up to 3 billion hryvnias to combat the swine flu. Among measures imposed by the decree include shutting down schools and public gatherings for three weeks across Ukraine, with the government also considering introducing restrictions on movement of people between the regions.

Yatseniuk said the ban on public gatherings spreads fear and panic helping Tymoshenko to promote herself on television, while hindering other presidential candidates to campaign.

Yatseniuk is Tymoshenko’s biggest rival as both compete for votes in western regions of Ukraine. He is perhaps the only candidate that may challenge Tymoshenko in the first round of vote on January 17, 2010 to enter the runoff with opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.

Yatseniuk said the panic spread by the government helps overshadow issues politically damaging to Tymoshenko, including pedophile and the murder scandals involving Tymoshenko lawmakers, and

Ukraine’s dismal economic performance

Prime Minister Tymoshenko, whatever the real facts of the case, is using the WHO Swine Flu panic scenario to the hilt. In a recent statement, she stated, "We cannot relax even for a moment because the World Health Organization predicts two more waves of flu, including the bird flu, are expected in Ukraine. There is no alternative to vaccination. The entire world is going this way…" A day earlier she admitted she was not vaccinated and that she prefers "like all other people" plans to rely on garlic, onion and lemon as a way of preventing the flu.

Ukraine Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn accuses Tymoshenko as well, declaring, "You've organized the flu epidemic in order to avoid responsibility for not supplying heat to houses, schools, higher educational establishments, and kindergartens," he said in Parliament. And Orange Revolution President, Yushchenko has declared there was no reason for declaring an emergency in Ukraine. "There are no such reasons," Yushchenko said. "I am not a supporter of measures that freeze the country, restrict its operation to levels that is hard to justify."

Ihor Popov, Deputy Chief of Staff to Yushchenko, said that in case of emergency the election, which is due on Jan. 17, 2010, would have to be "rescheduled."

Germany joins Swine Flu corruption

Not only is the Ukrainian government apparently using fears of Swine Flu pandemic to change the domestic political calculus, and President Barack Obama using the fears to impose an unnecessary state of emergency. Now it comes out that the responsible German health authorities are caught in a corrupt conflict of interest with the very pharma giants profiting from government decisions on "anti-swine flu" vaccines.

The recent issue of the German weekly Der Spiegel, reports that members of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI), which claims to be an independent scientific advisory body advising EU member governments on policies regarding H1N1 influenza, is anything but independent.
It’s being financed by Big Pharma. ESWI claims it brings together scientific "key opinion leaders in influenza." However the sole financial backers are 10 pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline -- manufacturer of the German swine flu vaccine -- and Roche -- producer of the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

The group lists Walter Haas as one of its scientific advisors. Haas coordinates Germany's flu pandemic preparedness measures at the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI), the federal institute for disease research. ESWI portrays itself as an independent group of scientists. But even the organization's own statute tells a different story, describing its role as advising politicians and health authorities on "the benefits and safety of influenza vaccines and antivirals" and initiating "a policy for antiviral provisions."

The degree of fraud, deceit, official coverup and outright criminal endangerment of the broad population by the current Swine Flu hysteria is seemingly without precedent.

Yanukovych, Tymoshenko Ahead in Ukraine

November 17, 2009

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Ukraine’s presidential election seems destined to be decided in a run-off, according to a poll by the Ukrainian Project System. 21.4 per cent of respondents would vote for former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych of the Party of Regions (PR), while 18.1 per cent would back current prime minister Yulia Timoshenko.

Former foreign affairs minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is third with 7.8 per cent, followed by Volodymyr Lytvyn of the Lytvyn Bloc with 6.9 per cent. Support is lower for Petro Symonenko of the Communist Party (KPU), current president Viktor Yushchenko, former economy minister Serhiy Tyhypko, Kyiv politician Oleksandr Pabat, and leader of the All-Ukrainian Union (Svoboda) Oleh Tiahnybok.

A series of public demonstrations took place in Kiev after the November 2004 presidential run-off. The Ukrainian Supreme Court eventually invalidated the results of the second round, and ordered a special re-vote. Opposition candidate Yushchenko—whose supporters wore orange-coloured clothing at events and rallies—received 51.99 per cent of all cast ballots, defeating Yanukovych.

In 2006, the PR secured 186 seats in the Supreme Council. Yanukovych eventually became prime minister in a coalition government with the Socialist Party (SPU) and the KPU. After a long political stalemate and disagreements between the president and prime minister, a new legislative ballot took place in September 2007.

Final election results released in October gave the "orange forces"—including the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Yushchenko’s People’s Union-Our Ukraine (NS-NU)—228 seats, while Yanukovych and his allies took control of 202 seats. In December, Tymoshenko was ratified as prime minister, with the support of 225 lawmakers.

In September 2008, Ukraine’s governing coalition split in great part due to disagreements over a Georgia-Russia conflict. In the days following an incursion by Russian forces into South Ossetia, a Georgian breakaway province, Yushchenko asked the government to fiercely condemn Russia’s actions in Georgia, but Tymoshenko refused to take a strong stance against Russia. Yushchenko left the coalition as a result. A new parliamentary election was scheduled for Dec. 14, but was later postponed indefinitely on account of the global economic crisis.

On Nov. 12, Yushchenko called Tymoshenko a "homeless person", declaring, "We speak about open society and honest power. Where does the prime minister, who has neither flat , land nor a car, get hundreds millions for election campaign from? She is a homeless person! How it is possible to be a homeless person in the country when you are 50 years old? It is a question of virtue and do not take this as an attack on Yulia Volodymyrivna. But when the prime minister, 50 years old, has neither house nor home, what answer she can give to nation for a question how to arrange the future."

The presidential election is expected to take place on Jan. 17, 2010.

Polling Data

Which candidate would you vote for in the presidential election?

Viktor Yanukovych 21.4%

Yulia Tymoshenko 18.1%

Arseniy Yatsenyuk 7.8%

Volodymyr Lytvyn 6.9%

Petro Symonenko 3.8%

Viktor Yushchenko 3.2%

Serhiy Tyhypko 2.1%

Oleksandr Pabat 1.5%

Oleh Tiahnybok 1.4%

Source: Ukrainian Project System
Methodology: Interviews with 1,200 Ukrainian adults, conducted from Nov. 4 to Nov. 10, 2009. Margin of error is 2.5 per cent.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Medvedev reiterates Russian stance on interpretation of WWII

16 November 2009

SINGAPORE, November 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke out strongly and repeatedly on Monday against attempts to rewrite the results of World War II and the Soviet Union's contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany.

In late September, Medvedev voiced a similar warning to the United Nations, urging the international organization to act firmly against the rise of neo-Nazism.

"If falsifiers who are attempting to rewrite history are given real power, we will find ourselves facing demands for compensation. This is simply dangerous to the state," Medvedev told sailors aboard the Varyag missile cruiser, making a port call in Singapore, which hosted the APEC summit at the weekend.

He said historians could debate some issues, but said there was no controversy about the outcome of World War II, which was backed up by international and government decisions.

"We should keep an eye on such things - not fighting different points of view, but protecting our interests and thwarting falsifications of history that could hamper the interests of the state," the Russian president said.

The war continues to be a contentious issue in Russia's relations with both Estonia and Latvia, over the Baltic States' perceived glorification of Nazi collaborators. Parades in honor of Waffen-SS veterans, involving veterans from the Latvian Legion and the 20th Estonian SS Division and their supporters, are held annually in the two Baltic States.

Another former Soviet republic, Ukraine, holds numerous events to honor the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought against the Soviets during World War II.

Yushchenko,Tymoshenko and a State of Emergency in Ukraine

By Myroslav Potapov

A normal and not unprecedented outbreak of flu has added to political tension in Ukraine during the presidential election campaign. The flu outbreak should not be normally a cause for alarm as fewer people had died as of November 1 than by the same date last year. In February 2008 Ukraine was far closer to an epidemic than today.

Why then the exaggerated panic and conspiracy theories about the regional nature of the flu outbreak? Two factors account for this.

Firstly, in February 2008 relations between President Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko were not as strained as they are today. Today, Ukrainian experts and mass media openly talk about Yushchenko’s obsession with Tymoshenko who he attacks on a daily basis and the President intervenes in areas that are constitutionally within the governments area of responsibility.

Yushchenko signed into law social populist legislation that threatens the IMF stand-by agreement and thereby opens up the possibility of Ukraine’s default. At a November 11 meeting with G8 Ambassadors Tymoshenko openly warned about the dangers that lie ahead for Ukraine and in an unprecedented move said she would not implement the populist legislation.

Yushchenko’s obsessive dislike of Tymoshenko has led to a growing number of Ukrainian experts, including Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, alluding to Yushchenko as a “technical candidate” of Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych whom Yushchenko has never once criticised during the last six months. Lutsenko believes that Yushchenko’s strategy is to undermine Tymoshenko’s election chances, through for example daily criticism of her and the imposition of a state of emergency that would postpone elections.

After Yanukovych is elected President he has promised to disband parliament, hold pre-term elections and establish a new coalition and government. Lutsenko believes that the new government would be headed by Yushchenko.

Secondly, what makes this years flu outbreak different is that it is highly concentrated in Western Ukraine. As of November 2, the eight oblasts of Western Ukraine had over 200,000 cases of flu compared to only 30,000 in central, 6,000 in southern and 10,000 in eastern Ukraine.

Rumors have abounded that this is suspicious and a plot to undermine Tymoshenko’s election campaign as Western Ukraine is the heartland of her support. A small but growing number of western Ukrainian senior medical officers have questioned whether the fact that the outbreak is regionally concentrated means it is of an “organized nature”. Why is swine flu not spreading beyond Western Ukraine they muse?

Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officers who talked in anonymity to the Jamestown Foundation are also suspicious. An SBU counter-intelligence general was of the opinion that the outbreak had the look of a “spetsoperation”. Although based in Kyiv his colleagues in Western Ukraine were sending him daily reports that made him increasingly suspicious.

The SBU counter-intelligence officer offered to provide testimony from a Ukrainian who lived in the town of Stebnyk in Lviv oblast who allegedly witnessed suspicious individuals that he believed were linked to the flu virus. The Jamestown Foundation will seek to interview him.

A former senior level member of Leonid Kuchma’s presidential administration told Jamestown Foundation that during the Orange Revolution certain SBU officers had approached Kuchma and offered to disperse the Orange Revolution crowds by spreading an undisclosed “chemical agent” among them. Kuchma had turned down the offer because it would have led to a loss of life for which he would have been held responsible (Internal Troops sent on November 28, 2004 to disperse the protestors were given the order by Prime Minister Yanukovych after Kuchma also refused to support this step).

During the 2004 elections and Orange Revolution the SBU was divided into three groups. One worked with the opposition and unofficially taped Yanukovych’s election campaign headquarters. The tapes were transferred to Oleh Rybachuk after Yushchenko was elected (see ‘Yanukovych-Gate Unfolds After Ukrainian Elections’, Eurasian Daily Monitor, vol.1, no.139, December 3, 2004).

A second group stayed neutral and a third remained loyal to Kuchma. The latter group retained links to Russian intelligence and may have been behind Yushchenko’s poisoning that investigators believe was administered at SBU Deputy head Volodymyr Satsyuk’s dacha. Satsyuk fled to Russia after Yushchenko’s election with his SBU files which have been drawn upon by a parliamentary commission controlled by the Party of Regions that recently sought to claim that the poisoning had not taken place and was in fact a “CIA operation”.

Ukrainian media and experts have pointed to the analogy of Russia where the FSB was accused of planting bombs that blew up apartment buildings, terrorist attacks that were then blamed on “Chechen terrorists”. These conspiracy theories are rampant because of the inability to resolve the mysterious 2004 poisoning of then opposition candidate Yushchenko, years of political instability, and Yushchenko’s blatant use of the outbreak to undermine Tymoshenko.

Western Ukrainian medical officers believed that the answer to the question of why the outbreak was highly concentrated lies less in the medical than in the political sphere. This is an illusion to the calls by the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council and Presidential Secretariat for the introduction of a state of emergency that would postpone elections until local elections in May. According to Segodnya (November 10), Ihor Tarasiuk, the head of Yushchenko’s campaign, successfully argued against the step and the decision was postponed.

Such a scenario would severely undermine Tymoshenko’s election campaign, which it would seem is Yushchenko’s only goal.

P.S. Due to an oversight, Taras Kuzio was originally listed as the author of this blog. In fact it is Kyiv-based journalist Myroslav Potapov

Fragile Care Worsened Swine Flu in Ukraine

Published: November 13, 2009

LVIV, Ukraine — When patients began arriving in Vyacheslav Bonder’s intensive care unit two weeks ago, their lungs so saturated with blood that they could barely gasp, the only thing he could compare it to was a field hospital in wartime. As soon as he hooked one patient up to a ventilator, a second and third would appear in the doorway.

By that time, hospitals were clearing wards to make room for a wave of pneumonia cases, and people were crowding into drugstores to buy whatever they could get their hands on. Rumors were circulating that the government had ordered the city aerially sprayed with chemicals, to cure Lviv (pronounced luh-VEEVE) of disease or, in a grimmer version, to exterminate its carriers.

The panic lifted almost as quickly as it had arrived, and the World Health Organization announced Friday that the swine flu illnesses and deaths so far in Ukraine — 265 fatalities nationwide, with 87 in the Lviv region — were statistically no worse than those in other countries. But what happened here has drawn rapt attention from experts bracing for the epidemic to hit Europe, and especially the fragile health care systems of countries of the former Soviet Union.

Early findings are that serious cases mounted because the sick avoided hospitalization until their illness was dangerously advanced, stockpiles of Tamiflu were locked in centralized locations and the supply of ventilators fell short, said David Mercer, of the World Health Organization’s European regional office.

“It’s not like this caught us by surprise; we’ve known for months that this was coming,” said Dr. Mercer, who heads the office’s communicable disease unit. “We’ve been working very hard on plans, but sometimes the battle plan doesn’t survive the first contact with the enemy. We’ve had to change a lot of things on the fly.”

With the worst of the health care crisis here past, many in Ukraine’s western provinces are trying to puzzle out what led to it. Doctors blame the news media and politicians for spreading fear and misinformation. The mayors of Ternopyl and Lviv, which reported their first deaths from atypical pneumonia on Oct. 12 and 19, have complained that the federal epidemiological service refused to act without laboratory confirmation that the virus was present, delaying serious measures by nearly two weeks.

Others point to more remote causes, among them the desperate poverty of Ukraine’s health care system 20 years after the Soviet Union collapsed.

In Lviv, senior doctors earn a monthly salary of 1,500 hryvnas, approximately $184, pay so low that many physicians leave their practices to work as home health aides in Western Europe. Though health care is officially free, patients typically pay a stream of cash bribes for services as large as X-rays and as small as blood tests or linen changes.

Ukrainians rely heavily on home remedies, and that is what they did for the third and fourth weeks of October, resorting to garlic and lemons and waiting so long to check into hospitals that by the time they did, many were beyond treatment.

“Medicine is underdeveloped in Ukraine, and people don’t believe in it — it’s a vicious circle,” said Oleh Berezuk, a physician who heads the mayor’s administration in Lviv. “In a mature country, if you get sick you will not say, ‘Nobody can help me.’ ”

Now, the doctors at Lviv’s main pulmonological hospital have the shaky good humor of people who have come through a crisis, though portions of their hospital are clammy and unlighted (“to scare the viruses,” one doctor joked), and some of their breathing equipment dates from Soviet times.

Two weeks ago, though, doctors here thought they were looking at a medical mystery: the deaths of healthy young people — not the drunks or addicts they usually see — with lungs so inflamed that they resembled liver. Dr. Bonder recalls the numb realization that his ordinary protocol for treating pneumonia was having no impact at all.

“You would come in to work and the next time you looked at your watch it was midnight,” said Dr. Bonder, who heads the intensive care unit. “You didn’t even think what could happen next.”

Nurses and doctors were falling ill at an alarming rate, in part because of shortages of gloves and disinfectant. Irina Mykychak, the assistant director of Lviv’s regional medical department, said around 3,500 medical professionals fell ill, of whom 300 were hospitalized and 4 died.

When they did suspect H1N1, physicians were stuck in a Catch-22. Though the government had stockpiled Tamiflu in preparation for an outbreak they expected later in the year, the drug was available only at the region’s single infectious disease station — and only with proof that a patient had H1N1. Obtaining proof was a three-to-four-day process that required that samples be sent to Kiev, said Lyubomir Rak, the hospital’s director.

Nadia Rudnitskaya, chief of pulmonology, was carefully putting the pieces together. On Oct. 27, she examined the body of a 32-year-old man — the latest in a series of four deaths from four parts of western Ukraine that, as she put it, “shouldn’t have happened.” Dr. Rudnitskaya gathered her samples together and appealed urgently to Kiev.

Right then the logjam broke: The next day the governor ordered a quarantine and released the emergency stockpile of Tamiflu to clinics and hospitals. A day after that, Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko announced on television that the virus had “reached epidemic threshold,” and all of Ukraine was talking about H1N1.

“It was a riddle,” Dr. Rudnitskaya said. “There was an answer.”

For some, it came too late. Marta and Nazar Martin insisted that their mother, Galina, 43, check into a hospital on Oct. 23, after her cough worsened into shallow, labored panting. A dentist, she had been treating herself with intravenous antibiotics and flu medications, as she had always done before.

“No one knew there was an epidemic,” said Marta, 18. “Nothing was said, not at work, not on television.”

The hospital offered no answers either. Doctors first prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, then punctured Ms. Martin’s spinal column to test for meningitis and encephalitis, then gave her an M.R.I. to rule out a brain tumor. With every new prescription, her children scraped up the money and set off to find a pharmacy where it was available, Marta said.

“A poor person would just die,” she said. “They will not start a medication until you pay for it.”

On Oct. 29, when information about H1N1 flooded the region, doctors and nurses showed up wearing masks for the first time, Nazar said. He watched incredulously; his mother had already declined so much that she was “half a corpse,” he said. After she died, the next day, samples from her body were sent to be tested for swine flu.

Her children estimate they paid 35,000 hryvna, or about $4,300, in cash payments to nurses and doctors during the week she spent in the hospital. The more they hear about swine flu, the angrier they get.

“Why didn’t they take measures before then?” said Nazar Martin, 19. “I’m interested in knowing what they were thinking. They took this seriously only when people began to die, when the death statistics began to rise. Where were they before then?”

“It’s on their conscience,” he said, of the medical authorities. “They should have done something to prevent it.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Warned a second wave is likely

A million infected in Ukraine flu epidemic: minister

Tue Nov 10, 10:54 am ET

KIEV (AFP) – Ukraine's epidemic of flu and acute respiratory disorders has now affected more than a million people, the country's deputy health minister said on Tuesday.

Vasyl Lazoryshynets said the death toll from the epidemic had risen to 174, as President Viktor Yushchenko warned the country must brace itself for a second wave of infections.

Nearly 53,000 Ukrainians have now been hospitalised, Lazoryshynets said, but the number in intensive care has fallen by nearly a quarter to around 330.

A total of 67 cases of swine flu have been reported in Ukraine, he said, 14 of which had been fatal.

"Ukraine must prepare properly for a second wave of respiratory infections and flu," including A(H1N1), Yushchenko said Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) team in Ukraine said on Monday the epidemic had slowed, but warned a second wave was likely.

On Monday the health ministry's previous bulletin on the epidemic, which began in mid-October, reported 969,000 infections, with 155 deaths and 65 cases of A(H1N1).

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine

Window on Eurasia: Tensions between Russia and Ukraine Reflect Different Attitudes to History, State and Individual, Kyiv’s Ambassador to Moscow Says

Paul Goble

Bloomsburg, November 10 – Tensions between the Russian and Ukrainian governments are “not an argument between colonizers and the enslaved” but rather a dispute between those who see the state and its continuity as more important than the individual and liberals who put their faith in individuals and society, according to Ukraine’s ambassador in Moscow.

That division, Konstantin Grishchenko argues in the current issue of “Zerkalo Nedeli,” falls “not along the line of state borders,” of course, “but within both Ukrainian and Russian society. [The two countries are] not so dissimilar in that, [but] they are different “in the proportion of supporters of the first and second sets of values” (

“Rational” people, the Ukrainian diplomat says, “cannot but be surprised that such questions of a humanitarian nature and not problems of economics and security define the tonality and content of Ukrainian-Russian dialogue.” But the reason is that since 1991, the two countries “have become very different.”

For Ukrainians, he continues, the entire Podrabinek case appears “extremely strange,” but a careful examination of it shows that over the last 18 years, Ukrainians and Russians, “while preserving a multitude of common interests have begun to set themselves apart both by models of societal development and by their worldviews.”

For the Russian “establishment, Grishchenko suggests, “the state is considered an important super-values, which forms around itself a system of firm values and priorities.” And equally, the Russian elite has accepted the “idea of the uninterrupted quality of the process of state construction.”

What that means, the ambassador says, is that “any power which has been able to achieve a strong position in Russia and to obtain legitimacy in the eyes of its own citizens will become an inalienable part of the historical fate of Russia and ‘the Russian path.’” Thus, 1991 does not represent a moment of discontinuity for Russians the way it does for Ukrainians.

Many Russians as a result do not know what the Day of Russia on June 12th means because “the Russian political leadership avoids any reference to the events of August 1991 as ‘a democratic revolution.’” For both, “contemporary Russia didn’t break out of ‘the prison house of peoples’ but only appeared in place of a system which did not withstand the test of history.”

This attitude does not mean that the current Russian powers that be want to restore what was, but rather it suggests that “for the Russian elite, the underlying idea remains the unbroken quality of the state forming process and an orientation on the greatness of Russia as the key goal” of the current leaders.

“In Ukraine,” he says, “the historical process is not conceived of as integral. On the contrary, the period in which Ukrainian lands were within the Russian Empire and the USSR are viewed primarily as stages of national historical development which had for the most part negative consequences.”

Such a “lack of correspondence” in the assessment of the past “naturally leads to conflicts and contradictions between Ukraine and Russia concerning the interpretation” of any particular event. But in saying that, Grishchenko goes on, “it is important to correctly understand the internal essence of these discussions.”

They are “not so much an argument between colonizers and the enslaved as a dispute between those who focus on the state as the most important thing and liberals.” Thus, for the former, Stalin’s industrialization and the great terror “exist as it were in parallel worlds,” but for the latter, the two can never be divorced one from the other.

These differences in worldview, in turn, affect politics. On the one hand, Ukraine and Russia have a very different political system. In the former, voters are unwilling to give any part an overwhelming majority and thus have contributed to political instability, while in the latter, the electorate has been prepared to do just that and helped erect the power vertical.

And on the other, the two countries dealt with the greatest crises since 1991 in very different ways: In 1993, Moscow used force to resolve the conflict between the president and the parliament; in 2003-2004, Ukrainians dealt with their political problems in a very different and far more peaceful way.

Such differences, Grishchenko argues, reflect “deeply held predispositions in the consciousness of the government elites of the two related peoples,” not only concerning the goals that are the most important but equally significant between the methods that each views as appropriate to achieve its aims.

The elites in each country must recognize these differences if they are to be able to live and work together as they should. “Ukrainians,” their ambassador says, “are seeking to live with Russians as good neighbors in a well-ordered little village where people listen to advice from one another but do not seek to instruct or give orders.”

If one thinks about this, Grishchenko continues, “we are like adult brothers who after the age of 18 left their common home, sincerely love one another, but conduct their affairs independently, talk with one another, but resolve all questions on their own” rather than acting as they did when they were children.
Unfortunately, “it is sometimes suggested that we should again live in a single communal apartment where one of the residents controls the gas and the knobs in the common kitchen,” but the ambassador says, “I am convinced that ‘the times of communal apartments’ have passed away together with the Soviet Union.”

Moreover, he concludes, “Ukraine and Russian in their relations will inevitably move further and form new bases for cooperation and friendship if they acknowledge that we are not the same but that in our interrelationships, we can be strong and successful in the contemporary world.”

The ministry of misinformation: Flu fears and rumours paralyze Ukraine

The Globe and Mail
2009 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

KIEV -- With classes cancelled after the government declared a flu epidemic, Eric Barsadanyan and his friends spend their days hunched over cigarettes and soft drinks in the gloom of an empty coffee shop on the third floor of an equally empty shopping mall.

They had not heard of the H1N1 virus even a week ago. But they are pretty sure they understand it now.

“You catch it from imported food and clothing that isn't clean,” said Mr. Barsadanyan, an 18-year-old first-year medical student who wears his close-cropped hair shaved into stripes along the sides.

He is not worried because he heard that the Ministry of Health has taken a somewhat unusual step. “They sprayed the city,” he explained, “with the necessary products.”

Ukraine has been awash with such misinformation about H1N1 for the last week, since Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko set off a public panic by shutting schools, banning public gatherings and warning that whole cities might have to be quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease. They were the most draconian measures taken by any country since the flu first appeared in Mexico last spring.

But it is still far from clear whether Ukraine is in the grips of a runaway H1N1 epidemic, as some officials have suggested, or whether the precautions were a confused overreaction to a predictable winter outbreak of seasonal flu.

The numbers coming from different government agencies and state media have been wildly contradictory.

Depending on the source, the number of reported cases of flu and respiratory illness last month ranged from under 7,000 all the way up to half a million, with no indication of how many people normally fall ill or die from the flu in the winter in this country of 40 million people.

The Ministry of Health has also issued conflicting information on the number of flu cases, flu-related deaths and suspected deaths due to the H1N1 virus. At one point, according to a state news agency report, a ministry official said flu deaths were down 10 per cent over last year.

An initial assessment from the World Health Organization – which sent a team of medical experts to Ukraine after a desperate plea for emergency aid from the country's President – was that the H1N1 virus could be confirmed as the cause of one of some 80 reported deaths from flu in the past two weeks.

The inconsistencies only increased public uncertainty about what was actually happening, and many Ukrainians appeared to have decided to prepare for the worst.

Across the country, people have emptied pharmacies of masks, gauze, vitamins and every variety of flu and cold medication. Rumours abound that helicopters have tried to disinfect Kiev by spraying it with chlorine gas. Government officials have gone on national television to deny other rumours that rural western Ukraine is in the grip of a deadly unnamed plague.

The flu epidemic was announced against the backdrop of a tightly fought presidential campaign pitting President Victor Yushchenko, the leader of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, against Ms. Tymoshenko. He was forced to cancel a planned campaign rally last week after the ban on public gatherings was announced.

A third candidate, the opposition leader Victor Yanukovych, has accused his rivals of trying to exploit public health fears to advance their flagging campaigns.

For many ordinary people, the political squabbling has added another element of doubt to the H1N1 scare.

“There is always some kind of fever – economic, health-wise or political – before an election. It's a nice way for politicians to show they are doing something,” said Larysa Kostrikina, a graphic artist. “I think this one will be over when the election is over” in January.

Not even gauze was available in the city by midweek. But that did not stop people from stopping in at every pharmacy in hopes of finding a talisman against a virus that many referred to as the “lung plague.”

Anything, it seemed, would do for the crowd gathered around the window of a tiny drug store outside the entrance to the Pozdnyaki subway station in Kiev one evening last week.

“I'm not sick. I just want to strengthen my immune system,” said one middle-aged woman wrapped in a heavy overcoat and a fraying homemade mask. She was looking for a Russian-made cream that was particularly sought-after in Kiev because it is supposed to kill viruses when spread inside the nostrils.

In Canada and many Western countries, the H1N1 virus has been in the news for months and a public debate has been raging for weeks over how to handle the vaccine. That debate has passed many other countries by, however.

In Ukraine, until the government abruptly declared an epidemic last week, the new virus was the subject of only sketchy references in the media.

“People naturally are panicked because they don't know about this and haven't been prepared for it,” said Michail Radutsky, president of the private Boris Clinic, one of the biggest private clinics in the country.

Its doctors have seen four times the usual number of patients in the past week, he said. Some have flu-like symptoms. Most, however, are just frightened.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine flu panic - and politics - hit Ukraine

The H1N1 outbreak has led Ukrainian officials to accuse each other of inappropriate responses.

By David L. Stern - GlobalPost

Published: November 10, 2009 06:46 ET

KIEV, Ukraine — It was perhaps inevitable, given Ukraine’s hyper-politicized climate — heightened by a partisan, mudslinging presidential race — that the H1N1 pandemic would become the biggest political football of all.

Ukraine is gripped by a swine flu panic, as an outbreak of acute respiratory illness has swept the country. So far, more than 750,000 people have been infected, and on Friday, 109 were said to have died. Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) say that they believe the majority of cases to be H1N1.

“There is no question that this is a rapidly involving illness,” said Jukka Pukkila, team leader for the WHO international expert team that arrived this week in Ukraine at the government’s request.

“We have all reason to believe that this is a spreading of the H1N1 illness,” he continued, adding that laboratories in the United Kingdom and Ukraine confirmed the presence of the disease.

The Ukrainian government has undertaken some of the most extreme steps in Europe to contain the contagion. Last week, officials closed schools and universities for three weeks, and banned large political demonstrations. (Elsewhere last week, others from high-risk groups lined up around city blocks in Canada to receive swine flu vaccinations, only to be boxed out by members from two professional hockey teams who received preferential treatment.)

In the capital Kiev, where only two have died so far, many wear face masks and restaurants and cafes have seen a dip in business. But movie theaters and swimming pools remain open, and while many individuals are concerned, panic has not erupted.

The situation is much worse in the country’s west, especially in Lviv near the Polish border, where the outbreak is centered. There, some 45 people have died so far and officials have urged cinemas, restaurants and other public institutions to close for the near future.

No sooner had the government announced its containment measures, however, than the pandemic became a way for the country’s politicians to beat each other up or score points.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is running second at this point in the Jan. 17 presidential elections, made a public show of meeting — in a surgical mask — deliveries of the anti-flu medication Tamiflu at the Kiev and Lviv airports.

Others called this show-boating. “Ukrainian authorities are using the hysteria over the flu outbreak to distract citizens’ attention from the country’s economic and social problems,” said presidential candidate Sergey Tigipko, a former member of Tymoshenko’s team who is now running against her. “Flu is a serious threat, but in Ukraine they have contrived to turn it into a political tool used to distract public attention from real problems.”

President Viktor Yushchenko announced that he was asking the country’s prosecutor to launch an investigation into “criminal negligence” by Tymoshenko, front runner Viktor Yanukovich and former parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn for holding mass rallies to launch their campaigns, just as the pandemic was breaking out.

“The parliament speaker and the leader of the opposition and, most importantly, the prime minister, ignored the facts of the epidemics,” Yushchenko said on national television.

“This is completely similar to the May Day rallies in Kiev after the Chernobyl disaster,” he said, referring to the mass demonstrations held by communist authorities in 1986, just after the world’s worst nuclear accident had taken place.

On Friday, one of Yushchenko’s close advisors suggested that the presidential elections could be delayed until May because of what he said was the Tymoshenko government’s mismanagement of the crisis.

Ihor Popov, deputy head of Yushchenko’s secretariat, wrote on the Ukrainskaya Pravda website that if conditions worsen, a state of emergency could be introduced. That would push back the election date since it would keep candidates from campaigning fully.

WHO officials actually praise the Kiev government’s reaction, however. Pukkila said that although his delegation’s main goal was not to deliver a verdict on the appropriateness of the Ukrainian response — WHO intends simply to assess the nature of the outbreak — he found the official measures “in line with the situation.”

There is a risk nonetheless that the outbreak will become much worse. Though the number of deaths in Ukraine is lower than in other parts of the world, health officials are concerned at the speed at which the illness is spreading, and the possibility that Ukraine may be experiencing a new strain.

More worrisome is the pressure that H1N1 will place on the country’s medical system, beset with corruption, inefficiency and Soviet-era practices. So far authorities in Lviv seem to be able to cope with the added demand, WHO officials say — hospitals have the necessary supplies and there is no shortage of beds.

But Ukraine has the first major H1N1 outbreak in an eastern European country. As it spreads eastward through the former Soviet Union, medical systems in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia — not known for their efficiency or high-standards — will come under similar stress.

“How does the virus behave in a country like Ukraine with a health system with low resources, and how does this system cope? This is what we’re watching,” said Pukkila.


Source URL (retrieved on November 10, 2009 09:15 ):

Flu Pandemic has reached Critical Proportions in Ukraine

Courtesy of Ukrainian Canadian Congress

Toronto, November 8, 2009 -The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) are appealing to the Prime Minister of Canada to direct Canadian foreign aid funding immediately toward humanitarian aid to help the Government of Ukraine to fight the increasing global H1N1 flu pandemic.

"I have requested that the Prime Minister of Canada designate a portion of foreign assistance funding toward immediate humanitarian medical aid to help Ukraine fight the H1N1 flu pandemic", stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress President, Paul Grod. "As the pandemic spreads across Ukraine, pushing into the European Union, I urge the Prime Minister, on behalf of all Canadians, to generously donate funds and medical supplies to combat this deadly virus. What impacts Ukraine, and Europe, affects Canada."

The World Health Organization reports the pandemic now covers 14 Oblasts (Provinces), including Kyiv, Donetsk, Zhytomyr, and Kirovograd, all of whom now exceed World Health Organization (WHO) standards for epidemic status. In the last 48 hours, the number of persons sick with serious respiratory illnesses has exploded from 250,000 to almost 900,000, and 37,031 children under 18 years old have been reported ill, with nearly 40,000 people hospitalized.

First respondents to the Ukrainian Canadian appeal include Air Canada, the Cole Group, Purolator, Jim Temerty and Health Partners International (HPI), who answered the call for crucial medical supplies, funds and logistics support.

"These companies and individuals have been incredible. Not only are we grateful for their quick response and overwhelming generosity, these companies understand that, as nations, we are inextricably linked between Europe and North America" stated Bob Onyschuk Q.C. Chairman of the Canada Ukraine Foundation. "Donate, because it can save the lives of children in need," stated Onyschuk.

"Canada has always been a strong humanitarian and economic partner with Ukraine", stated Ambassador Ihor Ostash, Ukraine's Ambassador to Ukraine. "We are prepared to work side by side with Canadians to defeat this pandemic and we are grateful for their support."

Valued at $200,000, the first shipment is scheduled to depart Toronto, Canada on November 9 via Air Canada for Kyiv, the nation's capital. The Government of Ukraine, through the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada, has guaranteed rapid distribution of the supplies upon arrival at Borispol airport.

Donations of supplies, vitamins and antibiotics valued at over $160,000 and donations of over $60,000 in cash for medical supplies have been received by the Canada Ukraine Foundation. These funds will be used to purchase additional medical supplies and their distribution to the areas in Ukraine ravaged by the pandemic.


Contact:, or by mailing donations to
CUF, 203-952 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB Canada R2W 3P4.

For more information, contact: Details on what is needed and how you can donate or help are available at or or you may contact Lesia Demkowicz at or tel: (204) 942-4627.

CUF Media Contact:
Canada Ukraine Foundation
Bob Onyschuk, Q.C.
Tel. (416) 369-4574

UCC Media Contact:
Darla Penner
Telephone: 204-942-4627

Urgent Appeal to Canadians for critical medical Support to Ukraine

Courtesy of Ukrainian Canadian Congress

Toronto, November 4, 2009 -The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) today launched an appeal to the Government of Canada, all provinces and territories and Canadians to help the people of Ukraine deal with a serious outbreak of pandemic flu ravaging the country.

In response to an urgent plea from the Government of Ukraine, this Canadian appeal calls for donations of specialized medical supplies to support sick and critically ill Ukrainians across their country. Supplies needed include: antibiotics, sanitizers, masks, syringes, ventilators and basic medical products to assist sick and critically ill Ukrainians. Over 250,000 flu cases have been reported, with over 1,100 children admitted to hospital in the last several days.

"The rapid escalation of the disease has the making of what could be a public health catastrophe," stated Bob Onyschuk Q.C. Chairman of the Canada Ukraine Foundation. "The government of Ukraine has closed all schools and implemented a quarantine in nine oblasts and has issued a call for urgently needed medical supplies."

The appeal is being coordinated with the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada who will ensure rapid distribution of the supplies and support within Ukraine.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones. We cannot stand by and watch this pandemic ravage Ukraine. As Canadians we have an obligation to reach out and help," stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Paul Grod. "We ask that the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories designate a portion of foreign assistance funding toward immediate humanitarian medical aide to help Ukraine fight this pandemic. As well, we urge Canadians to generously donate money that can be used to buy medical supplies as soon as possible."

See below for more information about the situation in Ukraine.

Relief Effort Overview

UCC and CUF in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada are coordinating efforts to receive medical supplies and donations of funds for the purchase of medical supplies.
What supplies are needed?

Antibiotics (Amoxicilin, Cephalexin, Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, Levoquin)
Hand sanitizers
Liquid soap
Masks (surgical or N95)
Surgical gloves
Safety Disposal Boxes
Surgical Wardrobe
Disposable gowns

If you have the ability to raise funds, aggregate medical supplies or to contribute larger quantities of any of these listed supplies please contact Lesia Demkowicz at or

tel: (204) 942-4627.

Financial Donations
Go to or
Financial donations will be used to purchase the needed medical supplies and cover transportation costs.


Timelines are very short and containers will be shipped from Toronto on the following dates:

Monday November 9 - First shipment - non-pharmaceutical medical supplies
Wednesday November 11 - Second shipment - pharmaceutical supplies
Friday November 13 - Third shipment - all medical supplies

Supplies must be received by the freight forwarder in Toronto no later than noon on the date of the specified shipment. Please contact the UCC for shipping details or

tel: (204) 942-4627.


Please ensure that all packages are properly labeled with all the enclosed items documented in detail and attached to the package with a copy emailed to

Further information

Details on what is needed and how you can donate or help are available at

or or you may contact Lesia Demkowicz at or

tel: (204) 942-4627. or

About UCC - The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) brings together under one umbrella all the national, provincial and local Ukrainian Canadian organizations throughout Canada. Together with its member organizations the UCC has been leading, coordinating and representing the interests of one of Canada's largest ethnic communities (1.2M) for almost 70 years.

About CUF - The Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) is a Canadian NGO with a mandate to lead and coordinate Canadian assistance to Ukraine, including humanitarian aid, and the development of democracy and civil society in Ukraine.

Request from Government of Ukraine

Council of National Security and Defense of Ukraine took a decision to apply to international community with a request for the humanitarian aid. Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine has made an international appeal for the following:

1. Vaccines for prevention of pandemic flu for the risk groups (15.3 million doses).
2. Machines for artificial lung ventilation including those meant for children and of the higher class for long-term ventilation, transport respirators of the NEWPORT type. Fiberoptic bronchoscopes; anticontagious filters; aspirators; cardiac monitors; pulseoxymetry devices; equipment for the devices; infusion pumps; Oseltamivir; antibiotics; immune correctors; disinfection facilities; protection facilities (glasses, masks, gloves, respirators etc.); test-systems, facilities for virologic laboratories.
3. Medicines:

Tamiflu (90000 packages);
Tienam (500000 vials);
Amoxiclav (350000 packages);
Sulperason (350000 packages);
Levofloxacin (150000 packages);
Meropenem (100000 packages);
Calcemin (10000 packages);
Oxybate sodium (300000 packages);
Seduxen (Diazepam) (430000 packages);
Propofol (3600000 vials);
Dexamethasone (50000 ampoules);
Hydrocortisone (IV) (50000 vials);
Fentalin (1000 ampoules).

UCC Media Contact:

Darla Penner

Telephone: 204-942-4627



Monday, November 2, 2009

Ukraine Mystery Outbreak Sparks WHO Concern as Disease Spreads

By Kateryna Choursina and Halia Pavliva

Newlyweds in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday. The government has ordered an anti-flu crackdown. (Picture courtesy

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization sent a team of experts to Ukraine today to investigate an outbreak of respiratory disease that’s sickened a quarter of a million people and left pharmacies without masks or flu remedies.

A group of epidemiologists, physicians, laboratory technicians and communications advisers is scheduled to arrive tonight in Kiev, Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, said in a telephone interview today.

Ukraine faces an outbreak of flu-like illness that’s killed at least 67 people and infected 255,000, according to the country’s first deputy health minister Vasyl Lazoryshynets. About 22 patients tested positive for swine flu, Lazoryshynets said. It’s “difficult to tell” whether the pandemic H1N1 virus is responsible for all the cases, according to Hartl.

“There are a lot of unknowns,” he said. The crew of experts will collect samples from patients and send them to the WHO’s influenza collaborating center in London for diagnosis. The WHO may have more information on Nov. 4, Hartl said.

Ukraine’s government has closed schools and banned public events. In four of Kiev’s 10 districts, a majority of drugstores posted handwritten signs in their windows that read “no masks.” A central information line for the city’s drugstores said yesterday most stores had run out of protective masks or flu and cold remedies such as paracetamol, called acetaminophen in the U.S., and new supplies were expected later in the week.

Onions, Garlic and Lemons

The streets of Lviv, the city near the Polish border that’s reported the most cases, were empty yesterday, with museums, restaurants and stores closed, said Halyna Shymanska, a 47-year- old doctor. Shymanska, who runs a private ultrasound diagnostics office in nearby Truskavets, said pharmacies have run out of masks as well as antivirals and basic flu medicines.

“People are relying on folk remedies like onion and garlic,” she said in a telephone interview.

Garlic and lemons, also used as a flu remedy, are now scarce in the town of Cherasky, in central Ukraine. The price of a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of lemons there has quadrupled to 50 hryvnia ($6.10) in the past week.

About 15,000 people are being treated at hospitals across Ukraine, Lazoryshynets said at a press conference in Kiev today.

Ukraine has asked the U.S., the European Union, NATO and neighbors for anti-flu drugs. Poland and Slovakia sent protective masks and Roche Holding AG’s drug Tamiflu to Ukraine after President Viktor Yushchenko said the country couldn’t fight an outbreak of pandemic influenza alone, according to a statement from the government.

‘A Bit of a Flap’

H1N1, a new flu strain that’s evolved in pigs, humans and birds, has sickened at least 440,000 people and killed over 5,700 since it was discovered in Mexico and the U.S. in April, the World Health Organization said last week. The WHO estimates seasonal flu causes up to 500,000 deaths a year.

“It’s a bit like Mexico in the beginning,” said John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, adding that Ukrainian authorities may not have the scientific resources they need to observe the outbreak closely. “One’s first reaction is that not due to any fault of their own, they’re getting into a bit of a flap.”

It’s unlikely that the virus has mutated and become more deadly, according to Oxford. “It doesn’t fit with the experience of other countries at the moment, so why should the Ukraine be different,” he said.

An analysis of early data on the outbreak suggests severe cases and deaths in Ukraine occurred among adults aged between the ages of 20 and 50, according to the Geneva-based WHO.

The U.K. Health Protection Agency estimated on Oct. 29 that about 521,000 of the country’s 61 million residents have gotten the virus since the pandemic began, and 137 of them have died. That’s a death rate of 0.03 percent, similar to the one Ukraine’s numbers indicate.

Across the Black Sea, Bulgaria also said it was hit by a flu epidemic, closed schools and banned gatherings, the Sofia News Agency reported, citing Angel Kunchev, head of the health ministry’s department of control of communicable diseases.

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