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Ukrainian American Bar Association

HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF UABA ACTIVITIES

 

       1977, Participation with Ramsey Clark, Esq. and Melvin Wulf, Esq. in the defense of Mykola Rudenko and Oleksiy Tykhyi, Soviet political prisoners and Kyiv Helsinki Group Members by preparing documentation presented to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

       1977, Co-counsel with Burton Hall, Esq., of New York City, in defense of Olexander Serhiyenko, Soviet political prisoner.  UABA members penned briefs and sent Mr. Hall into Ukraine to personally deliver then to the Presidium of the Ukraine Soviet Rada. Mr. Hall was intercepted at the home of one of the dissident’s and unceremoniously expelled.

       1978, Participation in the Ad Hoc International Helsinki Legal Defense Committee; the purpose of this group was to promote world peace by monitoring the observance of the Helsinki Accords by the signatory nations; membership included Ramsey Clark, Esq., and Edward Bennett Williams, Esq., and Melvin Wulf, Esq.

       1978, Participating Counsel in the preparation of the cases of Mykola Rudenko and Olesksiy Tykhyi, Soviet political prisoners and members of the Kyiv Helsinki Group, for presentation to the International Sakharov Hearings (Rome, Italy).

       1979, Participating Counsel with Robert Weinberg, Esq., of Williams and Connolly, Washington, D.C., in the preparation of the case the Lev Lukyanenko, Soviet lawyer and political dissident and member of the Kyiv Helsinki Group for the presentation to the Third Session of the International Sakharov Hearings (Washington, D.C.).

       1979-80, Coordination of defense efforts over an 18 month period on behalf of Lev Lukyanenko, presented Lukyanenko case to the American Bar Association (ABA) at the annual General Assembly meeting of the ABA resulting in the passage of a first of its kind Rule of Law Resolution on behalf of Lukyanenko.

       1980 and 1984, Members of the UABA were appointed first by the Carter White House and then by the Regan Administration as public members of the official USA delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

       1977 to 1989, various members of the UABA submitted numerous position papers to the White House, Department of State on foreign policy issues relating to the USSR and were in continual contact with governmental agencies or foreign policy related subjects.

       1981, a UABA member was speaker & panelist at the International Conference on Territorial Integrity and World Peace (Sapporo, Japan).  The conference centered on the territorial dispute between Japan and the USSR over the Kurile Islands.  The Ukrainian nationality issue was discussed privately with the Speaker of the Japanese Parliament and with a high ranking diplomat from the Foreign Ministry of the Peoples Republic of China.

       1981 - 1982, a UABA member testified before the Joint Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe in reference to Soviet violations of the Helsinki Accords and the implications thereof for United States foreign policy.

       1984, the Association participated in lobbying efforts to obtain passage of the Ukrainian Famine by the US Congress.

       1983 – 1985, a UABA member was instrumental in the airing and public discussion of the documentary film, Harvest of Despair on the William F. Buckley television show and its viewing by congress in 1985.

       1985, a UABA member represented a Ukrainian juvenile, Walter Polowchak, who refused to return with his parents to Soviet Ukraine.

       1985 to 1991, Participation with the World Congress of Free Ukrainians in creating the International Tribunal Commission composed of internationally renowned jurists which adjudged the Holodomor as a crime against humanity.  

       1985 – 1987, the UABA spearheaded the defense of Myroslaw Medvid, a Ukrainian sailor who sought asylum in the Port of New Orleans.  The UABA offered pro bono legal assistance which was rejected by the INS. The UABA sued the INS and the US Department of State in PA, DC and LA, and was successful in the DC court case, UABA v. Shultz. As a result of the UABA’s involvement, the INS requested that the Organization comment on proposed new regulations which were adopted and a telephone hot line was established directly to the UABA for potential Ukrainian asylum seekers to call.  This hotline existed well into the 90’s.

       1979 forward, the UABA questioned the methodology and validity of purported evidence that was used by The Office of Special Investigations [OSI] in the prosecution of alleged war criminals who had immigrated to the US after WWII.  In 1979, a panel discussion was organized with the chief investigator of OSI.  Thereafter, members of the UABA became active in the defense of individuals prosecuted by the OSI. The UABA filed and amicus brief before the US Supreme Court in the case of US v. Kungys in 1987 and sent one of its attorneys to be an observer at the trial of J. Demjaniuk in Israel and some members are still active in his defense. 

      1986 – 1988, in cooperation with the Task Force on ABA - Soviet Relations, the UABA presented testimony at the General Assembly of the ABA in opposition to an ABA Agreement of Cooperation with the Association of Soviet Lawyers.

       1987 to present, the UABA instituted a scholarship program for Ukrainian students which continues to this day. For many years, the scholarship program was administered in conjunction with Southern Methodist University Law School.  The UABA (in cooperation with Lviv State University Faculty of Law) selected a distinguished candidate from Ukraine to participate in a one year graduate foreign exchange program leading to a Master's Degree in Comparative Law. In 1998, Ivan Shandor, a founding member of the fund lost his life in a tragic accident. In memory of Ivan, donations in the amount of $60,000.00 were sent to the fund increasing the total fund to $80,000.00. In 2003, at the behest of Ivan Shandor's family, the monies donated to the fund in his memory were donated to Georgetown University School of Law as the Ukrainian American Bar Association Ivan Shandor Scholarship.  In 2003, at the behest of Ivan Shandor's family, the monies donated to the fund in his memory were donated to Georgetown University School of Law as the Ukrainian American Bar Association Ivan Shandor Scholarship.

       1987, UABA members instituted a law suit against CBS and Chrysler for anti-Ukrainian remarks made in the TV film Escape from Sobibor.

       In October, 1990, the annual convention of the UABA was held in Washington D.C. and focused on establishing contacts with the newly created Union of Advocates in Ukraine.

       December, 1990, Cleveland, Ohio, a special membership meeting of the UABA was held solely dedicated to examining the methods that the association could use to assist Ukraine in its legal development.  Topics discussed included professional exchange programs, an internship program for Ukrainian lawyers, and the organizing of an international lawyers’ conference in Ukraine.

       In January, 1991, UABA officers had personal meetings in Kyiv and Lviv with the heads of the Union of Advocates, the Ukrainian Association of Lawyers of Ukraine, and the Lviv Lawyers Club, for the purpose of exploring various forms of mutual assistance and cooperation.

       February, 1991, to September, 1991, four special meetings of the UABA organizing committee were held regarding a lawyers’ conference in Kyiv and specific programs for cooperation with the legal profession in Ukraine.

       In April, 1991, a mid-year conference of the UABA was held in Philadelphia, Pa., and focused on legal and business developments in Ukraine. The principal speaker was Oleksander Necheporenko, member of the Ukraine Parliament and vice-president of the Union of Advocates of Ukraine.

      In October, 1991, an international Conference of Ukrainian Lawyers was held in Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine.  This was the first such conference between lawyers of Ukrainian descent from around the world including, United States, Canada, England, France, and Argentina.  During this historic event, attended by nearly 50 lawyers from the United States alone, the participants attended the following meetings and events; professional meetings sponsored by the Union of Advocates and Association of Lawyers, and the Lviv Club; special briefing by the Counsel Generals of the United States and Canada; the participants attended sessions of the Ukrainian Parliament and had a special meeting with Leonid Kravchuk, later the 1st president of Ukraine.  In addition, the participants had the opportunity of meeting numerous business prospects from various parts of Ukraine.

       1991 to 2005, UABA members participated as election observers, from the first 1991 Referendum on Independence to the Orange Revolution elections. Additionally, the UABA took a strong stand in denouncing the fraudulent election of 2004.

       The February 1992 (Washington D.C.) annual meeting of the Ukrainian American Bar Association was oriented specifically towards the economic and legal development of Ukraine.  The principal speaker at the conference was The Honorable Gennady Udovenko, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations.  Speakers included lawyers from Ukraine; members of the United States Department of Commerce and the Federal Judiciary; representatives from the U. S. Ukraine Foundation; and Mr. Serhej Koulik, Charge d'Affaires Ad Interim of Ukraine to the United States of America.  As a result of this meeting, three committees were established to make legislative recommendations to the Ukrainian Parliament in the following areas: security regulation; patent and intellectual property law; and commercial and business law.

       In March & April 1992, the UABA organized various meetings with representatives from Ukraine including, The Honorable Victor Bati'ouk, newly appointed Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Mr. Serhej Holowaty, member of the Ukrainian Parliament and President of the Ukrainian Association of Lawyers; Mr. Danylo M. Kurdelchuk, President of the Ukriniurkolegia, Ukraine;  Dr. Fydor Burchak, Head of the Law Department of the Parliament of Ukraine; Dr. Yuri Shemshuchenko, President of the Ukrainian Union of Jurists and Director of the Institute of State and Law of Ukraine; and Professor Michaijlo Kostitsky, Dean of the Lviv University Faculty of Law.

       October 18 - 23, 1992, The UABA helped plan and participated in the First World Congress of Ukrainian Lawyers [WCUL] held in Kyiv.  Over 400 members of the legal profession practicing in Ukraine joined with more than 150 of their brethren from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Poland and the United States, to form an international organization of lawyers of Ukrainian birth and ancestry.  Various events surrounding this Congress were nationally televised in Ukraine especially the ceremonies at the Kyiv Opera that were attended by the President of Ukraine and the Verchovna Rada.  The UABA, as a constituent part of the WCUL, appointed delegates to the World Congress slate of officers from 1992 to 2002.  Members also attended various WCUL biannual convocations during that period of time.

       1992 – 1996, the UABA appointed delegates to the board of directors of the Ukrainian Legal Foundation, a Soros sponsored non-governmental entity in Ukraine whose goal was to advance the rule of law in Ukraine.

    1992 – present, Association members have been rendering assistance in the drafting of Ukraine’s constitution and continue commentary to this day.

       1992 – present, members of the UABA spearheaded the opening of offices in Ukraine for many US and EU based law firms and continue to do so to this day.

       1992 – 1996, members of the Association participated in the Commercial Law Project whose goal was to propose commercial law legislation for Ukraine.

       1994 – 1999, UABA members filed FCC and court complaints against CBS challenging their FCC license in reaction to the CBS airing in October of 1994 of the 60 Minutes television show “The Ugly Face of Freedom”.  The complaints alleged that the program was defamatory of Ukrainians and portrayed them as “genetically anti-Semitic”.  The litigations were resolved in 1999 by a comprehensive settlement agreement approved by all parties. 

       1999 – 2001, a number of actions were filed by two UABA members on behalf of Ukrainian victims [among a series of class actions instituted by other groups of victims] against German and Austrian industry to recover compensation for survivors of the Nazi forcible deportations during WWII.  Marathon international negotiations between  the US, Germany, Austria, Israel, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and class action attorneys resulted in a $5 Billion settlement of which approximately $1 Billion was distributed to victims in Ukraine.  These attorneys also became advisors to either the International Organization for Migration and the Ukrainian Fund for Remembrance and Reconciliation which entities were charged by German and Austrian legislation to distribute the compensation awards to victims.

       2006 – 2008, UABA members participated with lawyers from other counties in the Holodomor Legal Committee of the World Congress of Ukrainians in analyzing the feasibility of legal actions regarding the Holodomor.

       2000 – present, throughout the first decade of the new millennium, the UABA's focus shifted to a balanced practical approach toward the sharing of information and networking among and between lawyers in Ukraine and in the U.S. through seminars, career and job placement workshops and other panel presentations and discussions, as well as social events, at lengthier annual conferences, supplemented by gatherings and functions at the local level throughout the U.S. and Ukraine. This has spawned greater understanding, cooperation and teamwork among lawyers effectively working together in representing and counseling mutual clients in legal matters and cases spanning both jurisdictions, an exponentially increasing and common practice in today's globally tighter world.

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