Thursday, October 22, 2020

Crunchy Hot Beets


Living alone I have no need to be making huge batches of anything let alone these crunchy hot beets and given that I enjoy cooking and find it therapeutic, I’m not extremely anal when it comes to measuring portions. I also work with what I have at hand. For example in this recipe I had to know that I had the vessels to use. In short, when I cook I’m flying by the seat of my pants. So knowing that I had
five or six 250 ml preserve jars I decided on the amount of ingredients as I went along. 


Beets, about 1 litre 
Chili peppers dried – 4 broken 
Garlic – six cloves, I’ve come to love pink or Lautrec Garlic 
Vinegar – Plain white or Apple Cider 300 ml 
Water – 1 (one) litre 


 Five (5) 250 ml preserve jars with lids 

Putting it Together 
Crunchy Hot Beets

Into one large measuring cup, mine is two litres, place the prepared ingredient’s below.

Peel and cut your beets into coarse pieces with the largest possible size being a cube of about a centimetre. I do a mix of cubes and smaller strips, the smaller more easily become infused with the taste of the garlic and peppers.

Lautrec garlic mentioned above has a pink coloured outer skin and has a wonderful and rich flavour the first time I purchased this pink garlic was about this time last year and it had a providence of Spain. Over the summer I found locally produced pink garlic, and while it is a little more expensive it’s definitely worth every penny. Clean six cloves, and cut them into coarse pieces. One such pink clove should render you about a dozen wonderful small chunks. 

Mix the beets and the garlic well in order to make the distribution of the garlic pieces as equal as possible. 

Mix the water, vinegar and crushed chili peppers in a pot, and bring this mixture to a boil. 

Pour the boiling concoction over your beets and garlic. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let the mixture return to room temperature. 

Empty the mixture through strainer and ensure to preserve the liquid in another vessel. 

Spoon your beets, chili pepper and garlic pieces into your containers, in equal portions. In my case I filled five (5)  250 ml glass containers with the mixture.

Top off each of your containers with the fluid you saved. 

Close your containers and put them in the fridge for at least a day. I’m experiment but these portions should keep for up to two weeks without any problems if refrigerated, though they may keep longer.

Health Benefits

This little concoction contains a great deal of positive. The beets here remain primarily in a raw form and raw beets contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than cooked beets. Here I will just send you to our wonderful free encyclopedia.

Then there is the garlic... which for many cultures is used in the culinary process...Here is where you can learn more about the wonderful bulb.

Recycle, Re-purpose, Re-use

Not long ago I poached eggs for the first time in my life. In the household I grew up in we had three types of eggs: boiled, fried and scrambled. I went on to make omelettes with a variety of ingredients. My first poached eggs were just a short while ago. Given that one of the magic ingredients in poaching eggs is vinegar, I'm thinking of using the fluids I have left over after I finish eating my crunchy hot beets. I will report back about that culinary experiment. I think a poached egg would look wonderful in red...

Vasyl Pawlowsky 
Independent Consultant

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Enemies Within Ukraine

“With friends like that, who needs enemies?” A common adage that many have heard more than once when someone earlier considered a friend betrayed a person. The theme of treason has to be brought to the fore in contemporary Ukrainian society that has far too many enemies within. When the USSR began to crumble in the late 1980s and finally collapsed in 1991, there was a great deal of work Ukraine needed to do in order to ensure the transition from a command to market economy. That took much longer than it should have for many reasons, though there was even a more damning factor which retarded Ukraine’s development in my opinion. With Ukraine’s independence referendum on December 1, 1991 things took time to change, particularly the rewriting of the old laws of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. 

Some of Ukraine’s first enemies within appeared in 1993 when the sitting Verkhovna Rada voted for Law Number 3623-12. In particular it was Paragraph 2, of Article 2, which reads: “A Deputy can be chosen by a citizen of Ukraine, who has the right to vote, and cannot be less that 25 years of age on the day of elections”. The stipulation to become a deputy under Soviet law was the age of majority, which in Ukraine is 18 years of age. 

I consider those deputies and Leonid Kravchuk, president of the day, as enemies of Ukraine. In passing that law, they shut out the youth of Ukraine who had sacrificed their health and well being during the Revolution on Granite, which marked it’s 30th anniversary this year from October 2nd through 17th. What was Zelensky thinking on July 30th of this year when he appointed octogenarian Leonid Kravchuk, modern Ukraine’s first elected president, to be the head of the delegation of the Minsk Trilateral Contact  Group on the peaceful settlement on the situation in Donbas. 

I believe Zelensky seems to be out of touch with the realities of Ukraine and seems to have little respect for Ukrainians and Ukraine’s history. That lack of respect stems back to 2010, when his comedy program mockingly used the Holodomor in one of their sketches. The lack of empathy for this historic fact has often been ignored and dismissed by Zelensky and his team of his groomers have taught him how to skirt his past and act presidential. Unfortunately, there is nothing presidential about his behaviour and actions, nor is much respect shown for the Ukrainian language by his string of candidates running in local elections on October 25, 2020 from his Servant of the People’s party. Since the day of his inauguration, I’ve wondered, “Which people he and his party members are serving?” 

Ignorance, Indifference and Disrespect

Billboard and election literature of many different the party’s candidates are fraught with Google Translate errors, and Russian-isms. Many of these errors are ones that Ukraine’s elementary school pupils could easily pick out and laugh at.  In preparing their election campaign materials, candidates are required to follow the party’s brand book. This book acts as a guide for many things, from the colors they can or can not use to standard templates for all their published materials. However I wonder where’s the gray matter between the ears of the candidates when it comes to using language. A number of these cock-ups started appearing on social media quite regularly within hours after billboards appeared, and within days of the official start of the campaign on September 5, 2020. 

The one that first caught my eye within the first two weeks of the election campaign was the campaign poster of a Servant of the People’s candidate running in the Obolon district of Kyiv, who took hyperbole to the level of absurdity. Yevheniy Vandin’s poster reads: “We will make Obolon the Capital of Kyiv.” So I wonder if Mr. Vandin even has a clue of the meaning of the word “capital”. The definition of the
word I know is as follows: “n. 1. The capital city of a country or town of a country, state, etc.; seat of government”. As journalist and popular Ukrainian blogger, Maria Madzigon said in a video on the same topic on October 15: “You should have attended your geography classes, Vandin Yevheniy!”

While the foolish mistakes by native Russian speakers is quite understandable, the error of their linguistic ways will clearly reveal to astute voters where their sympathies truly lie. However, when it comes to the former comedian Zelensky the language and form of address he used to the citizens of Ukraine is totally unacceptable. To readers who have studied languages other than English, I’m certain you are aware of the two different forms of the pronoun you. Ukrainian is one those languages that used the two different forms. The common form ty, which would be tu in French as an analogy, and the more formal form vy, or vous in French. Though this really wasn’t Zelensky’s fault – his fault in fact was that he was addressing more than one individual – the citizens of Ukraine and in doing so he should have used vy or in French this would be vous.

The address in question has to do with Zelensky’s way of obfuscating the real problems that Ukrainians should be asking their president right now and this is verbatim what he said, “Hello! Yes, yes, I am directly addressing you [in the singular form], on October 25th at the polls, I will be giving you five important questions. By the way what will be the questions, about this later.” By now citizens of Ukraine have heard these five questions that will be not part of the balloting process as Ukraine’s electoral law does not have a provision for carrying this out during elections. However, as explained by the Presidential Administration, the five questions will be posed to voters outside the polling stations by pollsters from a private polling firm. If so, to quote a post of a good friend mine, Oleksandr Chernenko’s [VRU member 2014-2019, political expert, journalist] Facebook page on October 13, 2020:  “Why is the president involved in this at all?  If the "poll" is a private initiative, then why does Zelensky announce it? If it is an initiative of the president, then which law or which article of the Constitution provides for such powers? After all, he, as an official, must act exclusively within his powers. Everything else is an abuse of power.” 

Health issues at this time are a problem throughout Ukraine, and the questions that Zelensky had no damn business in stepping beyond his prescribed duties as the questions he has posed are nothing but a smoke screen for his administration’s incompetence and corruption. Of the the 65 billion hryvnia earmarked to fight the pandemic, 35 million of this was transferred to the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, for pet projects such as road construction, while the people of Ukraine suffer. According to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine’s Corona epidemic monitoring system Ukraine has had 303,648 confirmed cases of the illness; 5,673 deaths; 126,489 recoveries; 171,476 existing and a suspicion of 373,276 illnesses [].

Questions to Zelensky

A day after Chernenko’s statements of October 14, Madzigon addressed Zelensky’s use of language as I did above and she also pointed out to Zelensky, that in a democracy it is not the president who should be asking questions of the country’s citizens, but it is they who should be asking him the questions. With that as a prelude she began with addressing some extremely poignant questions, while also addressing Zelensky’s election campaign promises, most of which he has not even come close to accomplishing. Before I continue with some of the questions she posed, let me add this about democracy and democracy building, something I’ve been involved in for more than three decades. Democracy isn’t just about going to polling stations to exercise one’s franchise. Democracy is about holding those the electorate has voted for accountable for their actions or inaction. This is just what Madzigon does and I will for you touch on just a few of her questions and statements below:

    • Why did it cost your administration 12 billion to construct 30 km of highway, while under Poroshenko that same money build 80 km. Thirty and eighty do you recognize the difference?;
    • Why did you spend the money from the anti-Corona virus fund, from the anti-Corona virus fund not for a battle against the pandemic but for roads? It’s brilliant! [she says while clapping];
    • Why under Zelensky, under you, has the clear cutting of forests increased seven-fold?
    • Why was the law on land passed without going through a referendum?;
    • Why did you? You promised us that you would do everything without nepotism, and more than thirty of your friends in some way received positions. How do you explain this?;
    • Why out of all of Ukraine’s previous presidents do you have the largest motorcade of 52 cars. Think about it? Fifty-two. I'm already silent about twenty guards around;
    • Why is Medvedchuk free? Why is Medvedchuk still free?;
    • Why didn’t you declare five million in income? In general, this is a violation of the law, you yourself said that you would resign once you violated the law. 

While we will never know what Zelensky’s response would be to these questions one thing is clear Madzigon’s video in English translation is called: “WHAT WAS THAT??? #fivequestions” and clearly she touched a nerve with at least 14K Facebook users sharing the video and 954 users making comments. 

I’m sure readers can well imagine that how users would have responded in their comments. One comment was as follows: “It makes no sense to ask Zelensky questions, because we saw his inappropriate behavior, false primitive answers and hysterical laughter when he was asked questions by British journalist Stephen Sackur.” This is in reference to Zelensky’s interview on HARDtalk, during his state visit to the UK. Watch and see if you agree with the comment made by one of Madzigon’s followers.

There was one question she asked which touches a nerve in me more than any other. “Why is Medvedchuk still free?” Ukraine watchers who understand the notoriety of Viktor Medvedchuk in the case of dissident Vasyl Stus, who was sent to the Gulag never to return, may have the same sentiments that I have to the “great traitor”! Medvedchuk, in my opinion, was always a crony of the Soviet system, and clearly raised in the spirit of the Komsomol and the Communist Party. I can not remember where I may have either read or heard that as the Soviet Union was collapsing, there were orders from the Kremlin, that Komsomol members must find a way to create a niche in the new reality that was upon them. In short, this meant that they must pillage what they can in order to become wealthy and Medvedchuk did so in Ukraine, just like many of those mentioned in Chrystia Freeland’s book The Sale of the Century did in Russia in the early 1990s. 

Then and Now: Medvedchuk vs Kipiani

While I’ve never met Viktor Medvedchuk, though his behavior in working close to Leonid Kuchma, never invoked any confidence that he was working for the good of Ukraine and its people. Both he and Kuchma ingratiated themselves through their official positions during Kuchma’s two consecutive terms in office. On the other hand, I met Vakhtang Kipiani in the summer of 2003 a number of months after he had become the host and editor-in-chief of a program called  Podviyniy dokaz [Double proof] on the 1+1 television channel. We met at the Writers House at 2 Bankova in Kyiv, with a group of other Ukrainian journalists. At the time I was working in local print media, and as a foreign radio broadcaster for Ukrainian Time, the oldest Ukrainian-Canadian broadcast based out of Montreal. Though what really tied us together the most was our different types of involvement in the Revolution on Granite, in short we are both part of the same brotherhood. Since then I’ve been a friend of Kipiani’s and have followed him in his historical research particularly on the Istorychna Pravda [Historical Truth] website and most recently the YouTube channel of the same name. 

In 2019, after a great deal of research Kipiani published a book on the entire legal procedures against Ukrainian dissident Vasyl Stus [1935-1985], in which Medvedchuk was supposed to be acting in Stus’ defense, though Stus refused his him as a lawyer, which was within his legal rights, though Medvedchuk continued to act as his public defender, against his client’s will. 

Kipiani based his publication on archival material and presented facts.  The complete title translated is as follows: Characteristics of the case of Vasyl Stus. Collection of documents from the archives of the former KGB of the USSR. Then the good old defender of Ukrainians Medvedchuk, got a little pissed and decide to take both Kipiani and his publisher, Vivat, to court in order to ban the books’ publication and distribution. In particular Medvedchuk took offense with one chapter of the book that he considered to degrade his honour and dignity. 

On October 19, 2020 the Darnytsia District Court in Kyiv handed down their decision against Kipiani and his publisher Vivat, and the must cease publication and distribution of this book. The entire legal process has possibly backfired on the “great traitor”.  The court decision had a definite impact on the sale of the book and it may just backfire on “enemy number one of Ukraine”. Kipiani wrote the following two significant comments on his Facebook page. During the afternoon he posted the following: “ I received 157 phone calls today. I didn't have time to react to the majority of them, I'm sorry. Four radio broadcasts plus three television interviews, plus a dozen comments for media. (It's hard to be a superstar, yeah) P.S. In the evening, Facebook also forbade me writing comments and replying in Messenger, because it thinks that I produce spam 😉. Thank you to everyone for their support. Hugs to you all.  I love Ukraine.” About three hours later he posted the following: “More than a thousand people wrote to me in  Messenger about the book. I managed to answer somewhere in the hundreds. After that, the system began to issue an explanation that in order to protect against spam, my ability to respond is suspended. Though they did not say for how long. It may be some type of beacon. But please be patient - I will answer everyone.” 

While much of Medvedchuk’s position in “defending” Stus is in the past and when he was but 26 years old working in Soviet system, dealing with dissidents, few know that his father was considered a Nazi collaborator and maybe his motivation to collaborate with the KGB in order to pay back a debt to the Soviet. That aside. Let’s look at his current behavior and who he is. 

At the current moment Medvedchuk leads a political party that calls itself the Opposition Platform – For Life. The history of this “platform” has been nothing but a manner of disrupting Ukraine’s democratic and economic development. I have no other word than “douche bag” for the members of this party that is in the pocket of the Kremlin. Let’s not forget that Putin is the “godfather” of Medvedchuk’s daughter, and this is the greatest form of nepotism. 

A Possible Key Response

The following is what was reported by RFE/RL regarding the Presidential Administration’s response to the court decision: 

"Most of the content of the book is an exact reprint of the criminal case. That is, the purely documentary basis of the book does not cause the slightest doubt. Thus, it is by this logic of the book that VV Medvedchuk is a participant in a real process that took place in history, and not just a "character of the work." The participant's behavior is analyzed solely on the basis of documented facts, which are not a product of the authors' literary work and literary fiction.”

At the moment it seems like an appropriate response from Zelensky’s administration, that still has many questions to answer. Maybe they are listening on such a politically charged historical issues to the point that they understand that these things matter to many culturally aware Ukrainians, be they in Ukraine or beyond its borders.

I hope readers take the time to read the hyperlinks. As a professional librarian I love to provide value added information to the things I write. Particularly to what is close to my heart and soul. The questions posed by Maria Madzigon are all valid! My one wish now is that all Ukrainians who read English and have learnt something new will share all this information with their colleagues, family and friends. 

Vasyl Pawlowsky 
Independent Consultant

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dealing with COVID-19 and Self-Isolation

Many people have been dealing with COVID-19 and self-isolation in many different ways. During the first six weeks I found the best to deal my self-isolation was looking to my love of creating. I began writing a lot more than I had been in the previous months. I was writing poems, and working on my stories for something I wish to publish in the future called "Ukrainian Episodes" and one can learn more about these on my Patreon page. Then I wrote poem which was called Take A Look Around. After a few days that writing led me in a totally different direction, in creating a melody for it. 

Five months has gone by, and here in Quebec we've gone into another 28-day lockdown. In many ways the words I wrote then are still extremely valid. While I am a lover of music, my musical education is limited to a little bit of violin as an exploratory course in my first year of high school under the guidance of someone who really helped me appreciate music - Iwan Edwards, that was followed by two years of music playing trombone. Though throughout highschool I listened to everything from progressive rock to hard rock. So taking something I wrote as text to a melody was a great challenge. Though before I get into that aspect of things let me share the lyrics with you.

Take A Look Around – A COVID-19 Inspiration

Verses 1 & 2

I don’t know how you’re reacting.

I don’t know if you’re all alone.

Reach out to the people around you,

Reach out to all those you know.

Times are hard they’re not going to change fast,

Times are strange giving us some pain.

Look around, do your little part,

For some positive and healthy change.


Take a look around.

Aware of your social distance.

Take a look around.

Much better for immune-resistance.

Verses 3 & 4

Stay apart, smile - nod in support,

To your neighbours, the grocery store,

To the human you’ve never met before -

Careful, safe - healthy mind and soul.

Do not fear, you’re really not alone,

Millions like you, alone at home.

Together, there will be a victory, -

Emerging stronger than we were before.

Refrain - as above.

Verses 5 & 6

Take some time to reflect on things,

Take some time for your family.

All this too will really come to pass,

Bide your time and you will see.

So I hope as I send this it out you,

Friends are safe, finding cool things to do.

So be clear that when this is all over,

Simpler things will be part of the glue.

April 15-27, 2020

Even before trying to make music I made my own mask: 

The first thing I did in my creative process was to pull out my two Honer Blues Harps (harmonicas) and I started playing around. When I went for walks I would hum things to myself. Eventually 

I enlisted a good friend and former roommate from my university years in this scheme and need to create to stay sane. I knew he played guitar, and in fact I used to use his guitar to try to teach myself guitar when we lived together back in 1987-88. In some email correspondence he told me he was playing a lot more ukelele and I recalled visiting him in November of 2019 when he showed me his three guitars and his Martin ukelele. So we both did our little thing and with my limited knows of music recording and mixing I came out with something that sounds like this:

Unforutnately, when resctrictions were lightened everyone thought we were off the hook, though we are now back on it. Unfortunately, we are back to square one where we were five months ago. My feeling is that the words I wrote back in April still stand. If there are any of my friends who are musicians, please feel free to make this song a message. 
Vasyl Pawlowsky 
Independent Consultant
Member of SOCAN