Issue No. 23
July 17, 2019
Russia's Aggression Poses a Significant Threat to Global Peace
Case - in - Point: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 - We Remember
When Putin's Missile Targeted Civilians - Russia's Downing of MH 17
Wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 19, 2014. Photo courtesy of RFE/RL.
In Memoriam - The Fifth Anniversary of Russia's Downing of MH 17

By USUF Staff

On July 17, 2019 we marked the fifth anniversary of the downing by a Russian missile of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 over Ukrainian territory. All 298 people on board perished. They were nationals of the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada, and New Zealand.

The passenger plane which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down during one of the most intense periods of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s ongoing hybrid war in Ukraine has claimed over 13,000 lives, including more than 3,000 civilian deaths.

An international Joint Investigation Team, coordinated by the Netherlands and including law enforcement authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, has been investigating the tragedy since 2014.

Last month, at a press conference in the Netherlands, international investigators announced that the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands would prosecute four people for the bringing down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17.

International warrants have been issued for the arrest of the suspects, three of whom are Russian citizens.

For a detailed overview of the MH 17 tragedy, click here to read an article by the BBC.
Remarks by George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State, delivered at the July 16th event at the American Foreign Policy Council to mark the 5th anniversary of the MH 17 shoot-down tragedy

"This week is a time of looking to the skies, and remembering. On a positive note, fifty years ago today, Apollo 11 took off for the moon, leading to Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind. On a decidedly more negative note, tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 over eastern Ukraine, a giant step backward for the rules-based international order, and the tragic death of 298 from nine countries.

As we speak today, the United Nations Security Council is meeting to discuss Ukraine. You can be assured the United States and other friends of Ukraine and the rule of law will call on Russia to account for its role in the downing of MH 17, reminding Russia of the Security Council’s demand that: “those responsible…be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with the efforts to establish accountability. We will also underscore unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression."

Click here to read the full remarks.
FOUN Update - Freedom & Human Rights in Ukraine
BioUkraine Update - Can a Heart Attack Be Reversed?
Meet the Ukrainian Scientists Working to ‘Roll Back’ a Heart Attack
By USUF Staff

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally. An estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2016. Of those deaths, 85% were due to heart attacks and strokes.

While modern medicine can’t repair the heart after a heart attack, research is being done in several areas. For example, Japanese scientists are creating  patches from a patient’s stem cells  that can be surgically placed on the damaged part of the heart.

Dr. Oksana Piven, a senior scientist in the Human Genetics Department Department at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics in Ukraine, and her colleagues have decided to a try a different approach. What if you turn the fibroblasts of the “scar” back into cardiac muscle cells?

If you know which genes to “turn on,” you can turn any “adult” or specialized cell into a stem cell that can become a different kind of “adult” cell. Or you can “turn on” certain genes and change the “specialization” of the cell. For example, you can turn fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes. This is what Dr. Piven's group is doing.

Click here to read more.
Above: Dr. Oksana Piven and her colleagues at the 
Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics (IMBG) of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine  are working on developing a unique technique that, if successful, would restore the heart after a heart attack.

Below: Dr. Piven explains her research to
BioUkraine Advisory Board Member John DesRosier
during a visit to her lab in May 2019.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and
Finance Minister Oksana Markarova announced the
launch of the Ukrainian Startup Fund at a presentation
on July 11 in  UNIT.City Innovation Park .
Ukrainian Government Launches National Startup Fund
By USUF Staff

On July 11, 2019, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Finance Minister Oksana Karkarova announced the launch of the Ukrainian Startup Fund. The new government fund has a budget of UAH 390 mln (approx. $15 mln) and will give out grants of $25,000-$75,000 for a period of implementation of up to 24 months.

"This is a tool that follows the example of developed countries. We need public mechanisms that will allow us to support startups transparently and effectively. This tool will allow Ukraine to become strong," Groysman said.

Click here to read more.
This Week in History
July 16, 1990 - The Beginning of Ukraine's Modern Independence - The Ukrainian S.S.R. Declares Its Sovereignty

By Joseph Bistransky, Intern

One of the many insidious ways the Soviet state consolidated control over all aspects of life was by exercising its power through its vassal ‘republics’. By plastering a veneer of national federalism over a totalitarian system, the state localized dissent, co-opted national feelings into their ‘brotherhood of nations’, and gained disproportional voting power in the United Nations. But this system ultimately backfired and led to the downfall of Soviet power as democratic forces took control of these republics’ infrastructure to assert true autonomy and ultimately independence. This week marks the 29 th anniversary of the July 16, 1990 Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Ukrainian S.S.R., the first hint of true Ukrainian independence since the imposition of Soviet authority in the 1920s. 
Leonid Kravchuk, chairman of the Ukrainian SSR’s Rada, 1990.
Democratic Bloc deputy
Serhiy Holovatyi argues for the sovereignty proposal on the floor
of the Rada, June 1990.
Thousands celebrating in the
streets of Kyiv following the
passage of the Declaration.
In late 1989, as part of his perestroika campaign to reform the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev passed a law legalizing non-Communist candidates in the Union’s elections. Despite the Communist media monopoly, significant suppression of opposition by local authorities, and outright rigging across the country, the well-organized Ukrainian opposition, under a broad ‘Democratic Bloc’ alliance, won a quarter of the seats in the Rada in the March 1990 parliamentary election, and in the following months dozens of elected Communists left the party, leaving it with a tiny 3-seat majority.
This was not enough to block the growing movement for Ukrainian autonomy. A significant faction even of those who remained Communists, including the chamber’s chairman, future President Leonid Kravchuk, were moderates who supported a move towards true national federalism. Four months after the election, the chamber approved by a huge margin – 355 to 4 – a Declaration of State Sovereignty along the lines of those recently adopted in other Union republics, which transformed the Ukrainian S.S.R. from a puppet organ of Moscow’s rule into an all-but-independent state. This declaration elevated laws passed by the Rada over those dictated by the Union center, created a Ukrainian citizenship distinct from Soviet citizenship, created an independent central bank with the explicit right to implement an independent national currency, enshrined a ‘national-cultural revival of the Ukrainian people’, formed a separate Armed Forces, and even declared the country a neutral, non-nuclear state, capable of independent direct relations with other nations.
This declaration revolutionized the relationship between Ukraine and the rest of the USSR, and accelerated the forces pulling them apart. In March 1991, Gorbachev launched a union-wide referendum on his plan to reform the Soviet Union as a ‘Union of Sovereign States’. Planned from Moscow as a single question to rubber-stamp the decision, the Rada used its new authority to add a second question asking voters whether they supported using the Declaration as the basis of future Ukraine-Soviet relations. The first question was approved by a comfortable margin, but the second outran it by three million votes and ten percentage points, confirming an overwhelming popular mandate. Although Ukraine did not formally declare its independence for another thirteen months via a national referendum supported by 92% of the electorate, the Declaration of Sovereignty asserted for Ukraine most of the authority usually associated with independent states, marking a fundamental break with Soviet control and making true independence practically inevitable. 

Click the links below for further reading...