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Speach given at Vancouver’s Black Ribbon Day commemoration

Mirko Petriw (Vancouver)

Today’s date, Aug 23 is the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. That day, two great evils united and but a week later began carving up Eastern Europe between them.

To those millions of Eastern Europeans that were ground up in this operation, it mattered not whether the bullet that killed them was German or Russian. To the victims the equivalence of the two was all too self-evident.

In proclaiming Black Ribbon Day, Canada commemorates and condemns the deaths and sufferings brought on by both regimes. It is no longer cool to wear a hammer and sickle on one’s T-shirt. There is nothing funny or benevolent about uncle Joe Stalin, just as there never was in Oncle Adolph.

The Nazi threat to Eastern Europe ended in 1945. But although the Soviet Union died in 1991, much like a zombie, this monster keeps reaching up out of its grave to suck in new victims.

The bony hand of the undead USSR recently reached out of its grave and sucked in a hundred of Poland’s best and brightest adding to the 40 thousand of Poland’s elite lying in the soil of Katyn.

Less that two years before that, on August 12, 2008 the late President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, Ukraine’s President Victor Yushchenko, Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Lithuania’s President Valdas Adamkus, and Latvia’s Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis had stood shoulder to shoulder with Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi Georgia staring down that undead empire – on a day that the leaders of the West were enjoying the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Sadly today such an act of defiance would be unthinkable.

Today, even in a nominally independent Ukrainian state, the very existence of the Ukrainian nation is at risk. Russia has placed its stooges in the corridors of power in Kyiv and is actively working to russify the remaining Ukrainians. Sadly it just may be, that in the last stage of a successful genocide the remnants of the victim nation simply self-destruct. As was observed in a report by the Italian consul in Kharkiv, Sergio Gradenigo in 1933 at the time of the Holodomor-genocide:

“The aftermath of the present tragedy in Ukraine will be Russian colonization of this country, which will affect its ethnic makeup. In the future, or even in the near future, no one will even speak about Ukraine or the Ukrainian people – and, hence, about the Ukrainian problem – because Ukraine will de facto become a territory with a predominantly Russian population.”

Vladimir Putin said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. He has every intention of bringing that horror back to life.

Yes, the threat is still very real. If we choose to ignore or forget our history, we will face the prospect of having to repeat that lesson.

Героям Слава!

Picture from Black Ribbon Day commemoration in Vancouver, 2012:

Row left to right: Dr.Robert Batt, Organist; Pastor Andres Rebane; Myron Petriw, Canadian Ukrainian Congress; Pastor Vida Jaugelis, Lithuanian community; Milvi Puusepp St.Peters Estonian Church chairman; Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament, Langley, BC;  Vello Püss, VES, Vancouver Estonian Society;  Kris Lubowski, “Gazeta Polska Club”; Arvo Marits, EKN; Estonian Central Council.

Back row left to right: Pastor Heldur Kajaste Estonian Baptist Church; Father Edward Evanko, Ukrainian Catholic Church; Father Roman Tsaplan, Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver; Harry Jaako, Honourary Consul to Estonia in Vancouver; Martin Kuuskmann, Bassoonist.

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