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Ukrainian American Bar Association

UABA News Blog - In English

This UABA Blog page provides information and commentary on issues that are relevant to the organization and its members. Although the blogs are public, comments can only be made by members. If yoiu wish to join the discussion, you are welcome to become a member.

The comments expressed on these blogs represent the opinions of the authors and not that of the UABA.

  • 20 Nov 2018 12:20 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Andy J. Semotiuk's speech about leadership and democracy delivered to members of the Ukrainian National Organization (UNO) in Ottawa as part of the the Senator Paul Yuzyk Memorial Program.

    Click Here to View

  • 13 Nov 2018 1:39 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    We’ve Been Conned Before–By Ourselves

    by Victor Rud

    How can Russia, a single country, so easily pin Western democracy against the ropes? We could do worse than to ponder the lessons from our diplomatic recognition of the USSR, on November 16, 1933. It was affected by an exchange of letters between President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissar Maxim Litvinov. Among other matters,   Moscow committed  “to refrain from . . . any act overt or covert liable in any way whatsoever to injure the tranquility, prosperity, order, or security of the whole or any part of the United States, in particular any agitation or propaganda. ” But the reset of the century was materially tied to a covert bargain between the Kremlin and The New York Times,  a massive genocide, and the ensuing manipulation of the American electorate. Today, the repercussions loom globally and domestically.

    Read More

  • 19 Sep 2018 10:34 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The Geopolitical Divorce of the Century: Why Putin Cannot Afford to Let Ukraine Go


    Next month, Europe’s leading budget airline will begin regular flights from Ukraine to a host of EU destinations. This is the latest milestone in a Ukrainian aviation boom that is seeing additional routes announced on a weekly basis and record passenger numbers at airports across the country. Each new flight serves to broaden Ukrainian horizons and anchor the country more firmly within the wider international community. Meanwhile, there has not been a single direct flight between Ukraine and Russia since October 2015.

    The changes in Ukraine’s air travel industry are just one of the many ways in which the country has turned away from Russia and gone global since the climax of the Euromaidan Revolution in early 2014 and the start of Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war. Since then, Russia’s share of Ukrainian exports has tumbled from 24 percent to around 9 percent, while Russian imports to Ukraine have halved. As economic ties between Kyiv and Moscow loosen, Ukrainian businesses have begun to discover life after Russia. In 2017 alone, Ukraine-EU trade grew by almost a quarter and India emerged as the largest international market for Ukrainian agricultural exports. On the domestic front, American companies are replacing longstanding Russian partners. The first General Electric locomotive engines recently arrived in Ukraine, while the country’s Soviet era aviation flagship Antonov is now working with Boeing.

    Read More

  • 23 Jul 2018 3:03 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    In Memory of

    Walentyn Polywko

    1930 - 2018

    Walyntyn Polywko served in the US Navy, was admitted to practice law in New York, he was elected President of the now Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union, he was elected as a Vice President of the World Congress of Ukrainian Lawyers and served in the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in NYC. He passed away on Sunday morning July 15, 2018 leaving behind his wife Irene, 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren.

    His accomplishments listed above do not do justice to one of the most interesting men I have ever met, or will ever meet. Indeed, he was a quiet legend.

    Val was just as comfortable dealing with presidents, princesses and fashion icons as he was with working class people. While serving in the US Navy as a medical corpsman, he perform a circumcision on a baby boy while Princess Grace of Monaco was present during a tour of the aircraft carrier Forrestal.

    When skiing in the south of France he shared a long chair lift ride with a stranger and had a nice conversation. That evening the stranger sent a bottle of Dom Pérignon to Val’s table. When the waiter was asked who the stranger was, the garçon answered: “That is Yves Saint Laurent!”

    In 1964 Val was admitted to the bar when there were very few Russian speaking attorneys in New York, even fewer who could speak Ukrainian. Val was fluent in both languages and he soon had a near monopoly the growing population of émigres from the Soviet Union. From Ukrainian credit unions to the diamond district in Manhattan and the restaurants of Brighton Beach, everybody knew and used Val as their lawyer.

    Whether drinking toasts with Ukrainian Presidents or world known celebrities, Val was always smooth and elegant. That is why he was lovingly nick-named by KGB agents stationed in New York as “Don Valentino.” He was a long time member of UABA and a mentor to many of us, not necessarily on how to be a good lawyer, but how to savor life.

    Peter Piddoubny, Astoria, NY


  • 18 Jul 2018 10:20 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Oleksandr Savchenko: Trump sold my country for a photo-op and a football

    Kyiv Post July 18, 2018

    KIEV — Over the past five days, U.S. President Donald Trump has belittled NATO, insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, humiliated U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, disrespected the British queen and declared the European Union to be “a foe.”

    Now, in a sycophantic meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has sold out my country. Read More

  • 17 Jul 2018 10:33 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    HELSINKI – Then, Now, and Quo Vadimus?

    On August 1, 1975, 35 nations led by the United States Pres. Gerald Ford, signed a multi-lateral and multifaceted international agreement [the Helsinki Final Act or sometimes called the Helsinki Accords].  All our allies in Europe and Canada were among the signatories This international agreement was one of the linchpins of international rule of law that maintained peace on the European continent since World War II. Some of the essential elements of the Helsinki Accords were respect for the human rights of individuals and the territorial integrity of states and the right of nations to decide their own destiny.

    In recent years, Russia has unashamedly violated these fundamental principles enshrined in the Helsinki Accords in the full and unobstructed view of the entire international community. Examples of the egregious actions of the Kremlin are legion. A few examples follow: invasion and occupation of Georgian territories; invasion of Eastern Ukraine and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea; the shootdown of Malaysia airline flight 17; assassinations of Russian citizens in Europe; and undeniable meddling in the United States electoral process which is a direct and unabashed invasion of the American political system and our democracy.

    One would expect the President of the United States to have the strength of character to fulfill the duties of his high office and defend the sovereignty and integrity of the United States and to uphold the principles of the Helsinki Accords and international rule of law. Regrettably, Pres. Trump has miserably failed to fulfill these duties. In his most recent visit to NATO, he managed to inexplicably single-handedly malign and insult our closest longtime allies and trading partners calling them our “foes”. Thereafter on July 16, 2018, ironically in Helsinki, Pres. Trump had a secret one on one summit meeting with Russian Pres. Putin. During the press conference that followed, it became painfully, and palpably evident the President Trump’s performance was a disaster and was a repudiation of the principles of the Helsinki Accords.  He failed to confront Putin for his violations of the rule of law, and the Kremlin’s direct attack on the United States electoral system.  Instead, he questioned the veracity of American intelligence agency reports on Russian meddling in US elections –and reverently accepted Pres. Putin’s denials of Russian involvement and declined to take issue with Putin on any matters significant to long-standing United States foreign policy interests.

    So, Quo Vadimus? Where are we going? The obvious and regrettable immediate result is that the United States has lost its credibility and leadership in the international community. We no longer can claim the title as “leaders of the free world”.  Recent actions by the administration have turned the United States in the direction of an isolationist policy that will not benefit our country in the long term neither politically nor economically. The international community has now lost faith in America’s commitment to the international rule of law and to its other international obligations. Most troubling is the deference that has been a consistent manifestation of Pres. Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin.  History has proven that such appeasement in foreign affairs can have disastrous consequences. 

    Our democratic values are now being put to a critical stress  test. Will our elected officials – and ultimately the American citizenry – set aside partisanship and right our ship of state? Only time will tell -- but it will assuredly affect generations to come.

    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Former President, Chairman of the Board, and Founding Member of the UABA
    Former Public member – US Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
    (CSCE - Madrid 1980)

  • 17 Jul 2018 10:06 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The Provocation of “Sanctioning” Russia; 25 June 2018 – New York, US

    by Victor Rud

    Public focus on President Trump’s comments earlier this month about readmitting Russia to the G7 group of the most advanced democracies has somewhat dissipated in light of the ensuing North Korea summit. Now, even that has been overtaken by the controversy over immigration. But these were no off-the-cuff comments; they were made before, during and again after the G7 summit in Canada.  Make no mistake, however. “Sanctioning”– as in rewarding, not punishing– Russia would propel Putin ever more. It would be another entry in a catalog of Western fecklessness and would both materially and predictably degrade America’s global security posture. Read More

  • 08 Mar 2018 9:50 AM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    The E-2 Visa:

     The E-2 Investor Visa Pursuant to an Investment Treaty Between the USA and the Country of Origin of the Investor eg. NAFTA for Canada or Mexico.

     This article will provide the reader with a summary of the requirements of the E-2 work visa for the United States. To make the article more useful, some of the items are presented in point form for ease of reading. 

     1.         Background Information:

           Requirements: E-2 Treaty Investor

    ·              The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.

    ·              The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.

    ·              The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

    ·              The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.

    ·              The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.

    ·              The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

    Applying for the Visa

    Applicants for visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time can take months depending on the Consulate involved.

    During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.

    Required Documentation

    Each applicant for a treaty trader (E-1) visa must submit these forms and documentation, as explained below.

    ·              Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. This is something we will work on togther.

    ·              A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must complete a Form DS-160 application.

    ·              One (1) 2x2 photograph.

    What are the Required Visa Fees?

    ·              Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – The current fee for E-2 visas is $ 390 U.S. per person applying for a visa in the family with the payment being made to the “U.S. Consulate General”.

    . You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.

    ·              Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. 

    Additional Documentation

    An applicant for a Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa must first establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law, and complies with the many requirements for the E visa classification. The consular officer may provide the applicant with special forms for this purpose. The applicant can expect the consular officer to request additional documentation, to make a determination about eligibility for a treaty trader or treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant.

    Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

    Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the U.S. 

    Visa Ineligibilities and Waivers

    Certain activities can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. In some instances, an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable for a certain type of visa, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. 

    Visa Denials

    If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. In the absence of new evidence, however, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.

    U.S. Port of Entry

    A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the U.S. port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it’s very important to keep in your passport. Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. In addition, some travelers will also need to register their entry into and their departure from the U.S. with the Special Registration program.

    Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S.and Being Out of Status

    ·              It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status, violating immigration laws.

    ·              Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security and being out-of-status in the U.S. is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S.

    ·              Staying unlawfully in the U.S. beyond the date CBP officials have authorized--even by one day--results in your visa being automatically voided, in accordance with INA 222(g). Under this provision of immigration law, if you overstay on your nonimmigrant authorized stay in the U.S., your visa will be automatically voided. In this situation, you are required to reapply for a new nonimmigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.

    Additional Information

    General Visa

    ·              No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.

    ·              Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the U.S.

    Family Members

    Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E visas in order to accompany the principal visa holder. The spouse of an E visa holder may apply to DHS for employment authorization. Dependent children of an E visa holder are not authorized to work in the U.S.

    Application Document Requirements

    The application must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that:

    ·        The investor is a national of a country with whom the U.S. has the requisite treaty or agreement;

    ·        The alien (or in the case of an employee of a treaty investor who seeks classification as an E-2, the owner of the treaty enterprise) will direct or develop the enterprise. The alien must demonstrate that he controls the enterprise by showing ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise, by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device or by other means;

    ·        The investor has invested in or is actively in the process of investing in the enterprise;

    ·        The investment is substantial, i.e. sufficient to ensure the investor’’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise and big enough to support the likelihood that the investor will successfully direct and develop the enterprise;

    ·        The investment enterprise is not a marginal enterprise;

    ·        If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess skills that are highly specialized and essential to the operations of the commercial enterprise. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

    ·        That the applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of E-2 status.


                      It normally takes a U.S. Consulate abroad about three or four months to process the application and issue the work visa. With new security measures implemented and the requirement that all non-immigrant visa applicants be interviewed this could stretch out longer. There is one shortcoming for E-2 visas for Ukrainians. It is that due to reciprocity the maximum term is three months. In addition, they can only renew two times at three months each time. This does not compare favourably with most other countries who usually have five year durations. It is worth changing through Ukrainian law makers changing their rules regarding U.S. investors.


    Andy J. Semotiuk
    U.S. and Canadian Immigration Lawyer

    In Canada with:                                   

    Pace Law Firm:         

    5th Floor  300 The East Mall  |  Toronto, Ontario, M9B 6B7  | Canada 

    Tel: 416-342-5537 Fax: 416-236-1809 | Email: Andy@myworkvisa.com
    www.pacelawfirm.com and www.myworkvisa.com

    In New York with:

    Manning, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez and Trester
    4th Floor  | One Battery Park Plaza   New York, |N.Y. 10004| U.S.A.
    Telephone: (646) 473-5610
    Websites: www.manningllp.com and www.myworkvisa.com

  • 23 Feb 2018 2:12 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    “Let’s Move on to the ‘Why’ of Russia’s Election Interference”

    The 37 page Indictment prepared by the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and handed down by the federal Grand Jury in the District of Columbia is, if nothing else, an impressive narrative of people, organizations, reporting responsibilities and activities conducted by the Kremlin in connection with the 2016 election. The excoriating level of detail, which reads like a company’s Annual Report, sends a clear message to the Russians- we know what they did, we know who did it; and, we know when and how they did it. The remaining question that has yet to be asked and answered is “why did they do it?”

    Had this occurred in the 1960’s through the 1980’s, a totally improbable event in those days, the answer to “why” would have been knee jerk- because they’re Communists and Communists hate America. But, today as we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st Century, the answer is somewhat similar but different. The evident answer is- because Vladimir Putin and the autocratic Russian State he oversees despises democracy- not capitalism but democracy. Of course, as the world’s leading democracy, the United States may be a close second but make no mistake, it is democracy that Putin hates and not just the United States.  This explains in part why Russia’s interference in elections and referenda extends to other nations, like France and Britain. This extreme focus on destroying democracy arguably makes Putin and Russia today far more dangerous than the earlier expounders of Communist economic theory of the bygone Soviet era.

     Notwithstanding numerous published quotes that make him sound like Thomas Jefferson, Putin views democracy as a stupid political system. His reasoning is that democracy is, by its very nature chaotic and encourages disorder in society by enabling those who are not qualified, or to be trusted, to make decisions that affect all of a society. While he requires strict adherence to rules and laws, his rules and laws are those made to protect the state and not the individual. Although Putin is careful not to say too much, chess champion and astute geo-political observer, Garry Kasparov, has written (See, “Winter is Coming”) that he believes Putin solidified his views on democracy while in his 30’s as a KGB officer in East Germany; where he witnessed the chaos of crowds tearing down the Berlin Wall and mobs threatening the Soviet Consulate where he worked.

    The greatest mistake we can make as Americans is to view Russia’s actions as the equivalent of a prankster’s graffiti on a wall. A mischievous lark perpetrated by an unruly bully. This is hardly the case. Rather, as many on Capitol Hill have correctly identified, from both sides of the aisle, Robert Mueller’s Indictment of Russia is a call to action for all Americans, be they Democrats, Republicans, Socialists or whomever to join together in defense of our system of democracy.

    Perfect or imperfect, our democracy has survived for 242 years or, stated differently, since the time when Tsarina Catherine the Second ruled Russia with her iron hand. 

    As Vladimir Putin himself has said more recently, “Russia never lost the Cold War... because it never ended.” (See, http://www.azquotes.com/author/11940-Vladimir_Putin).

    Bohdan D. Shandor

    Bonita Springs, FL

  • 20 Feb 2018 11:44 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Attorney admits lying to Mueller's agents about interactions with former Trump campaign aide

    Chicago Tribune February 20, 2018 

    An attorney linked to a former Trump campaign official admitted Tuesday he lied to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller. 

    Alex van der Zwaan, who worked at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom until he was fired last year, appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington where he formally pleaded guilty to a single charge of making false statements. .......

    Van der Zwaan is accused of lying to investigators about his interactions with Gates during an interview with the FBI late last year, according to court papers......

    According to the court filing, prosecutors say van der Zwaan lied about his role in the production of a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is a political foe of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political party was a client of Gates and Manafort.

    Click here to read the full text of the Article

    Click here to read the full text of the Indictment

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