"Ukraine: Path to Independence"
Valerij (Val) Goloborodko
President and CEO Goel Payment Systems
Scribe: Colleen Turner Introduced by: Rourke O'Brien
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IN THIS ISSUE
Ukraine’s Path to Independence – BBRC Slate of Officers – Student of the Month – Partners for Work – Bellevue 10K/5K and Corporate Sponsorships
Rourke O’Brien introduced Val Goloborodko, who spoke about Ukraine’s path to independence and gave us an insider’s view of what has been going on since Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last year.
Val began his presentation with a brief overview of Ukrainian history.
During the Middle Ages, the area of modern Ukraine was the key center of East Slavic Culture, as epitomized by the powerful state of Kievan Rus’. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungary, and Russia. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but Ukraine’s territories remained divided until they were consolidated into a Soviet Socialist Republic in December 1922.
Starting from the late 1920s, Ukraine was involved in Soviet industrialization. Meanwhile, the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation, suffered. Stalin instituted a program of collectivization of agriculture and enforced the policies by the regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and agricultural productivity greatly declined. As members of the collective farms were not allowed to receive any grain until unrealistic quotas were met, millions starved to death in a famine known as Holodomor or “Great Famine.” The famine claimed up to 10 million Ukrainian lives in 1933 as peasants’ food stocks were forcibly removed by the secret police.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state, formalized with a referendum in December 1991. On December 5, 1994, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear weapon state.
The Orange Revolution, a series of protests and political events, took place from late November 2004 to January 2005. The protests were sparked in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud. Kiev was the focal point of the movement’s campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily.
Viktor Yanukovich was elected president in February 2010. November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to his ouster as president. Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia. He claimed the EU agreement no longer made any sense. The Ukrainian people believed that Yanukovych personally profited from the closer ties with Russia, with $3 billion stored in Yanukovych toilets.
This led to popular protests and the occupation of Kiev’s Independence Square. In January 2014, this developed into deadly clashes in Independence Square and in other areas across Ukraine, as Ukrainian citizens confronted the Berkut and other special police units. With good reason, the Eurorevolution in Ukraine has been named the “Revolution of Dignity.” Standing right next to simple workers were wealthy individuals, and the middle class stands shoulder to shoulder with students and workers, protecting the right for the very existence of their nation.
Val spoke candidly and showed photographs of the Berkut and Russian policemen in Ukrainian uniforms attacking peaceful protestors. Since Ukrainian citizens don’t have the right to bear arms, protestors used handmade grenades and fireworks to protect themselves; they used fire and smoke to decrease the effectiveness of snipers.
Russia claims the revolution was started by the U.S. while Val believes that a foreign country can’t start a revolution; it can only support it.
Val asked us, “Isn’t it interesting that only 2% of Eastern Ukraine was controlled by rebels until Russia decided to send ‘humanitarian aid’ in the form of weapons? 10% of Eastern Ukraine is now controlled by rebels with the aid of Russia.
Why is Ukraine under attack by Russia? According to Val, Putin wants to build an empire. He ended his talk with a question, “Do you want to see a nuclear weapon in Crimea?”
Wendi called the meeting to order at 7:30am.
Bill Prater gave the invocation and John Smolke introduced visiting Rotarians and guests.
BBRC Slate of Officers
The Club voted on the following slate of officers for the 2015-16 Rotary year:
President: Paul Chapman; President Elect: Mike Ralph; President Elect Nominee: Kaj Pedersen; Past President: Wendi Fischer; Secretary: Tanya Franzen-Garrett; Treasurer: Jason Cherney; New Generations Director: Joellen Monson; Club Administration Director: Kaj Pedersen; International Service Director: Fred Janssen; Rotary Foundation Director: Megan Sweeters; Public Relations Director: Nic Wildeman; Membership Director: Girish Bhatia; Community Service Director: Morris Kremen.
Student of the Month
Bob Holert introduced the Student of the Month, Annie Barker, who is a senior at Sammamish High School with a 4.0 GPA. Over the past couple of years, Annie has spent over 200 hours tutoring students after school. She enjoys tutoring English because she likes “helping students find their voice.” She wants to be a teacher and knows this from her experiences in leadership positions at school and the time she has spent tutoring other students. Annie plans to earn her undergraduate degree in English and her masters in teaching. She has applied to five universities but hasn’t yet heard back from Stanford, her number one choice. Good luck, Annie!
Partners for Work
Jane Kuechle announced there is going to be another contest between BBRC and Bellevue Noon to see which Club can employ the most people with developmental disabilities through the Partners for Work Program. The BBRC won the last contest; our members employed five people while Bellevue Noon didn’t employ any. Alan Bohling, Laura Cosacchi and Wendi Fischer were three of our members who participated.
Paul Chapman gave us five minutes to generate ideas for corporate sponsorships for the Bellevue 10K/5K. Each table appointed a spokesperson to share the findings. Here is the list of ideas:
1. Law firms 2. Accountants, especially in families with autism 3. Take video and use short version that shows emphasis on sponsors 4. T-Mobile (Sheldon) 5. Look to members of other groups you belong to like Toastmasters 6. Focus on motivating ourselves as a group 7. Registration party sponsors like restaurants; 8. Local Eastside companies focused on businesses that serve runners; 9. Focus on the village – food trucks, TopPot, prime locations 10. Look at our own key vendors that we use, personally and professionally 11. Charitable foundations
1. January is Rotary Awareness month. After you are done reading The Rotarian, leave your copy in your doctor’s office, at your gym or somewhere others can read it!
2. Jim Gordon announced that the Marines would be participating in the Bellevue 10K/5K.
Thought for the Week
If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way. ~ Napoleon Hill
About the Speaker
Valeriy is a board member of the American European Bethel Mission located in Santa Barbara, CA since 2010. and participates in projects that help people get back on track in life after they have become addicted to alcohol or drugs. He is also a board member of Beit Maim Haim.
Valeriy founded Goel Payment Solutions and has functioned their President and CEO since 2009. Goel Payment Solutions is a company that provides a full spectrum of electronic payment transferring services.
He is also President of the Ukrainian Business Association, which was organized to facilitate starting relationships between American and Ukrainian businesses. They also help local business owners in accessing those who have a Ukrainian heritage, which counts almost 60,000 in Washington state alone.
Valeriy was appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine as an Honorary Consul of Ukraine and currently is in the process of being approved by the US Department of State.
Valeriy holds a Masters degree from Shevchenko University in Law and a Management Information Systems Bachelors degree from International Christian University. Valeriy lives in the West Lake Sammamish neighborhood of Bellevue with his wife and four children.