Amsterdam’s Ukrainian-American community will gather this weekend to celebrate the independence of Ukraine, a freedom the eastern European country had, lost, then much later regained.
But it will be a celebration overshadowed by current events, as the Ukraine awaits a decision on the future of its economy. Former Ukrainian school teacher Myron Swidersky, now head of the Ukrainian-American Club in Amsterdam, said Ukraine is petitioning the European Union for inclusion in its economy, and a decision is expected by November.
But others in the fertile country that served as a bread basket for the region are unsure and leaning towards uniting with the Russian economy, like Belarus and Kazakhstan have.
“Right now, people in the Ukraine, they don’t know what to do,” Swidersky said.
For Ukrainians and their descendants around the world — including Ukrainian-Americans in Amsterdam and Watervliet — Saturday will be a day of celebration. It marks the 22nd anniversary of the day the country declared its independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was the second such declaration for the country and has been more successful than the first.
Ukraine declared itself an independent republic in 1918, then was run over by Soviet Communists and lost its independence to their occupation. It was during that time, from 1932 to 1933, that millions of Ukrainians died of starvation orchestrated by the Soviets.
The breakup of the Soviet Union enabled Ukraine to declare its independence again, on Aug. 24, 1991.
On Saturday, Ukrainian-Americans will meet at City Hall, 61 Church St., for a flag-raising ceremony followed by Ukrainian pastries. On Sunday, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 24 Pulaski St., will hold Mass in English and Ukrainian and conduct a blessing for Ukraine and parishioners.
The parish will hold a commemorative program following church services and enjoy coffee and pastries.