Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yuri Star...

A friend of mine sent me this open letter written by his friend Uri Star who has lost the rights to see his child after his wife left him to return to Ukraine. The letter is written to the US embassy in Ukraine and is a request for political intervention on his part. The story is rather hard emotionally but at the same time there are some loose ends in the letter which are not fully explained; what was the relationship like before and what is Uri's connection to Ukraine. Also, I think I would like to know more about the relationship itself such as how long they were together, how they met etc, as well as some information on her such as how long she was I the states and what her job status was. My friend Stan, who told me about this says that he will try to update this story as the weekend progresses.

My take on it had to do both with relationships between western men and women from the former USSR and about how there might be a growing trend of the east backing away from the thought that the west, because of its larger pocketbook, is the answer. Many women went west in the hopes of a better life, but stories like this seem to say that it was no paradise and coupled with Russia's newfound wealth, stories like this might start becoming more and more common.

I sent out a mailer about this and hopefully we will get some interesting and varied responses. Some of the original comments I got back are already in the comments section. I hope that this forum will help Uri gain a little media exposure and, after having read some of the comments, I guess I also think that the issue disallowing fathers to see their children is also something that needs to be dealt with on a wider scale.

I invite all to comment on this and participate in the discussion over this weekend. Also, because of the holiday this post will be up until Monday evening Pinsk Time. Shana Tova. Here is the letter:


To: The US Ambassador to Ukraine Mr. William B. Taylor
U.S. Embassy in Ukraine:
10, Yuriy Kotsyubynsky St.
01901 Kyiv, Ukraine

From: Yuri Star, a US Citizen
Temporary address:
Sichnevogo Povstannia St. 17-a, Apt. 21
Kyiv 01015
Tel. +38 067 230 66 00

August 22, 2007

Subject: Request to protect the rights of American citizens in Ukraine

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

I, Yuri Star am a law-abiding citizen of the United States of America.
In 2002, my ex-wife, Irina Fridenthal together with my underage son Michael Starodubskiy (who is also an American citizen) left the US to visit relatives in the Ukraine. After two months of being in Ukraine, she has made the decision to stay and live in Ukraine.
During the last five years, every two months I come to Ukraine hoping to see my son. For reasons unknown to me, my ex-wife refuses to let me see my child, does not inform me of his health and does not allow me to take part in his upbringing.
My ex-wife remarried the Kyiv City councilman Olexander Rybak, whose father Volodymyr Rybak is the Vice Prime Minster of Ukraine. Moreover, the father and son are both holding high posts in the governing Party of the Regions. My ex-wife has warned me on numerous occasions that should I persist in seeking communication with my son or take the matter to court, she will use all of Rybak family’s connections to prevent this, even my physical termination if it needs be.
I understood that she meant every word she said, since Olexander Rybak has phoned and met me on several occasions. He suggested that I give up the right to see my son Michael aiding his suggestions with profanity in my address and various threats, such as to forbid me, as a US citizen, entry to Ukraine, bring legal action against me on the basis of some fictitious charges, destroy the business of my friends and, finally, destroy me physically. At that, he referred to his power as a deputy of Kyiv City Council, the power of his father the Vice-Prime Minister, and their connections to the well known “authoritative” businessmen.
However, taking all of the above into account, I made the decision to fight for my right to see my child.
On July 10, 2007, through my representative I filed a claim with the Kyiv’s Pechersk district court (case #2-1908, judge I.M. Reynart) to remove the obstacles in socializing with my son.
On the same day of July 10th, 2007 I left Ukraine for USA.
On July 14, 2007 I received a few phone calls on my American cell phone from a Ukrainian mobile operator. Because I was busy, I could not take the call. However, in a short while I received a text message from the same number with threats and obscenities.
I have no reasons to doubt the above message was sent by a person, well acquainted with the details of my personal life and the life of Rybak family, and certain details point to the authentic author of this text - Olexander Rybak. Moreover, the unprintable utterances addressed in my name are very specific and alike to the obscene language used by Olexander Rybak in his threats in our past conversations.
It is evident from the message that I am being threatened with the administrative resources from the side of Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine, as well as the connections within the criminal circles.
With the goal of averting any possible provocation, I appealed to the expert department of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine – a Kyiv scientific research institute, to verify the presence and the substance of the text message in my mobile phone (the copy of the results are enclosed).
After aforementioned text message, I have serious grounds to fear for my health and life, since the vice-prime minister and his son, the influential deputy of Kyiv City Council are fully capable of using their administrative resources in bringing up fictitious criminal charges against me, barring me from entering Ukraine and causing harm to my health, even my physical destruction.
I had no choice but to appeal with a personal letter to Vice-Prime Minister Volodymyr Rybak, who is referenced in the threatening text message with the purpose of informing him of the events and requesting his help.
Even though I have report of letter’s receipt by the addressee, I have not received an answer, which proves that the threats have taken place and the Vice-Prime Minister Volodymyr Rybak and his son, a Deputy of Kyiv Council Olexander Rybak are trying to keep quiet about them.
In the absence of a single response, on July 31, 2007 I appealed with a letter to the leaders of the Party of Regions, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych and the Head of the electoral department of Party of Regions Borys Kolesnikov with the complaint as to the extraordinary behaviour of the authoritative and respected members of their Party. No response followed my request.
Meanwhile, the events around me intensified. Beginning on July 27, 2007 (I was on my regular business visit to Ukraine) I notice myself under surveilance, and unknown to me men of criminal appearance stop me on the street and send greetings from my ex-wife and Olexander Rybak. I would take this as a joke if these people didn’t meet me near the building where I temporarily reside and I was unaware of the fate of the deceased Olexandrov, Gongadze, and others.
On Sunday of July 29, 2007, while having breakfast with family in one of Kyiv’s restaurants, the waiter came and presented me with the bottle of finest and most expensive champagne they had in the restaurant’s stock. He said it was from Iryna and Olexander with the word for word wishes: “Long years of life, strong health and success in the matter you have begun”.
The above testifies to the fact that upon my return to Ukraine I have been put under surveillance because I did not inform anyone, especially Irina Fridenthal and Olexander Rybak about the place of my stay, my daily routine or the restaurants where I plan to eat with my family.
On August 3, 2007, in the absence of a reply from the leaders of the Party of Regions I was forced to appeal with an official letter to the Chairman of the President’s Secretariat V.I. Baloga and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine A.P. Yatsenyuk requesting to provide proper conduct of separate citizens of Ukraine.
I have not received an answer from these agencies either. However, I found out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made an attempt to forward my open letter to Volodymyr Rybak.
On August 8, 2007 I had a telephone conversation with Volodymyr Rybak in which he hesitantly informed me that he was unaware of the situation with my son, and that he bears no moral responsibility for the actions of his son, a deputy of Kyiv City Council Olexander Rybak, even if in his illegal actions his son refers to the authority of his father. Our telephone conversation took place in the form of a monologue. Being a person of good upbringing I was unable to interrupt Mr. Rybak as he expressed his point of view, however, he did not wish to hear my opinion and terminated the conversation, thus forcing me to put my thoughts in writing in the letter dated August 9, 2007 to the address of Cabinet of Minsters of Ukraine.
In the repeated letter to Mr. Volodymyr Rybak, I informed him of the continuous illegal behaviour of his son, who, in a phone conversation had openly told me that he resolved all the issues in court, that all my letters are at his father’s and no reaction to them is to follow and no-one else has seen them. At the end of the conversation he cynically remarked: “Who do you think you are to fight with me and my father?” Also in the same letter I informed that after our conversation with Mr. Volodymyr Rybak I received the following text message on my cell phone with obscene language and further threats to my life.
Concerning the fact of this text message, I appealed to an expert department of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine – a Kyiv scientific research institute, for the experts to verify the presence and the substance of the text message in my mobile phone (these results will be forwarded at a later date).
I have serious reasons to fear for my life since the disclosure of this information to the mass media can damage the image of key members of Party of Regions Olexander and Volodymyr Rybak.
By all possible means, the families of my ex-wife and Mr. Rybak are trying to create disrespect and hatred towards me in my son’s mind, all the while traumatizing the impressionable psyche of a child. For example, in the beginning of July of 2007 I found out that my son is vacationing in Yalta, Crimea. Having understood that this might be the only chance to see my son, not knowing his exact location, I went to Crimea on July 2, 2007 until July 5, 2007. After some searching I found my son on the beach together with his grandmother. Disregarding my son’s wishes to speak with me, unashamed of all the people, the grandmother began to curse at me with obscenities in front of my son. Not allowing me to be with my son even 5 minutes she forcefully took the boy away to the place of their residence.
The Rybak family uses all means to make my son reject me as his father and as it became known to me using physical punishment and cruel psychological pressure.
None of my attempts to appeal to public officials have had due reaction and in the public institutions such as the Pecherskiy district Court of Kyiv and the Agency of Guardianship of Pecherskiy district of Kyiv I am frankly told that Mr. Rybak pressures them and I will never see my son.
Mr. Ambassador, you are the person called upon to protect the rights of US citizens on the territory of Ukraine – you are my last hope. Both my son and I are citizens of the USA. I am asking you to protect us from the violent behavior of persons who dominate in the Ukrainian government and who think that with power and money they can take away from me and my son our right to see each other.
Mr. Ambassador, I implore you to do everything in your power for protection of American citizens: me and my son.

Thank you,

Yuri Star

16 Comments:

Anonymous Mike said...

I don't get it, who was the original American, and who was the
ukrainian?
It doens't make sense, there is something not right about this story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous Robert L said...

I thank you alot for your time and info and intrest in what i think
there is 6 days before the 26 th where i will have the first feeling from the court if i stand to loose my job then my 5 yr old son. so i will try to find the time to re communicate with you but the time remainning i will try to enjoy the presents of my son before i loose him forever.
But my heart is still for all humans so i will try to squeeze time to reach you.
since i do not have internet any more and i use the one at work it will be difficult.
I wish Uri the best and bye till next time!

Thursday, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous Steve said...

The same thing happened to me, and I decided to stay in the US for my son. Since then I never saw my son again and I even believe they removed my rights and they had put my in deportation.

Thursday, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous John Q Law said...

Americans always think that they have the power to get anything they want from other countries. Obviously he is being bated by his wife and her new friend. It is also obvious that the ex-wife is very much enjoying torturing him. This is a very sick situation. I feel for Uri but I am thinking that eventually, he is going to have to just move on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous fh said...

While there's a lot of political layers making this look complicated, at the core this is a case of parental kidnapping, pure and simple. Yuri never mentions whether he's initiated a criminal case in the United States against his ex, which he's entitled to do just as much as a father whose wife took their child to another state. Will it be a long, aggravating, frustrating process? Of course. Is there a guarantee of success? Of course not. But without a criminal case in progress, Yuri's working ass-backwards to be writing for help from the Ambassador. The Ambassador only has legal power if the proper procedure has been initiated. The fact that the kid is a U.S. citizen does a lot to eliminate her legal foundations.
Can you find out if he ever initiated a criminal case against her?

Friday, September 21, 2007  
Anonymous Mike said...

as far as the parental kidnapping case is concerned, the father is obviously heartbroken, but sadly even here in America fathers have the judicial decks loaded against them.

It is almost a crime to be male in America. Morover, there is something missing from this case. It doesn't make sense.

Friday, September 21, 2007  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

Thanks Fh, I just sent a letter over about that. Robert and Steve, thank for your candid response. I didn't know and I am sorry. And Mike, yes, I agree with you that there is a lot we don't know. however, perhaps even if the story is not clear, the man's desire to see his children and personal misuse of the political process in Ukraine can be focused on. Or of course, that we are seeing a rather blatent negative in the situation of an american marrying into the former USSR.

Friday, September 21, 2007  
Anonymous Stan said...

I have to talk to my parents to try to get in touch with him - last time I saw him was like when I was 6 years old in Russia. I think he is actually in Kiev now trying to get to see his son again. I am not sure but I think his child might have a dual citizenship - again, not sure if that makes a difference legally...

Friday, September 21, 2007  
Anonymous fh said...

I'm careful to withhold judgment with only part of the story. If Yuri was a loser, boozer, user, or abuser, she may have had some justification, but due process wasn't followed. Without any attempt on her part to pursue action against Yuri, she has committed international parental kidnapping. I used to work in child support enforcement and did some interaction with children's protective services. Domestic cases of this type would come up every now and then. We never saw an international case, but I did read over a few guidelines in passing once. Ukraine is a signatory to the Hague Convention, which does have stipulations on cases of this nature.

From the sounds of the company she keeps, it strikes me that she's just a cunt. But if this letter to the Ambassador is the first channel through the United States government that Yuri has pursued AFTER FIVE YEARS, he's either mind-bogglingly stupid or has something to hide.

If you want to look at this from the perspective of Western/post-Soviet relationships, I think I see something of a continuous thread of mindset. I've seen in many post-Soviet women, not just those close to me, a paralyzing cowardice when forced to deal with their own moral failings. There are some who will just fight tooth and nail, resorting to the most insane lengths to paint themselves 100% white and the adversary 100% black in their conflicts. It seems like they think that just because someone else did something wrong to them, they're completely blameless for anything they might have done either before or in response. "Kto vinovat?", right? Assuming that Yuri and Irina's break-up was a result of mistakes on both sides, Irina may simply be too cowardly to maintain a respectful relationship with Yuri because of the psychological necessity of admitting her own sins. I come from a western Protestant background. So, I was taught throughout my life that the things I do wrong don't just require repayment through ceremony or compensation. It's a matter of being able to look at myself truthfully and recognize that I've got dark inside of me that needs to be confronted on a personal level. My initial impression is that Orthodox ministry doesn't really internalize the faith in this way.

Sorry if this is too much Christian theology for you on Yom Kippur.

Friday, September 21, 2007  
Anonymous fh said...

Just out of curiousity, I did some Googling. You don't think...?

http://www.gatewaypeople.com/churchinfo/index.php?action=staffbiodetails&sid=26

Saturday, September 22, 2007  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

I don't think this is the same guy. Our guy has been effectively single and traveling to Ukraine every two months for five years now. This pastor of yours has three kids and is married to a woman named Marissa. I suppose mathematically it would be possible but it would be the wildest stretch for a double/secret life anyone, anywhere, would ever have seen.

Remember the old saying that there is nothing purer than an ex-whore? Also, Hemingway once said that "…two or three of the hardest working women in town used to be sporting women." I completely understand what you are saying about the whitewashing. I would also say that this also applies to women who did not run off but simply stayed behind or in fact to the culture as a whole as well. The current mindset in Belarus is that it is no longer an issue of Belarus not being good enough (for the west); it is now a matter of the west not being good enough for Belarus. I find it fits perfectly into the mindset of being "the best people", the personification of the Soviet Man which is who Belarus was during the time of the USSR. It is also a convienient excuse on the part of the state not to have been responsible for beating its own people down- It was not the vlasti who destryoed you, it was the west and their greedy way..."

This is not in any way intended as a condemnation though. Everyone needs to find a state of grace, if this statement is not being too Christian on Yom Kippur. But not being born yesterday simply means you have scars and remember where they came from. In this case, it is easy to say that the woman would have already had learned as much about the ugliness of life as anyone in the world ever does during her upbringing. If this Irina finds the stronger man to be the corrupt Ukrainian who uses all his power to protect her (and her son) from an evil ex-husband, or even if this is a lie and the ex is a fine man and she is only looking for her own best deal, well, this might not be right in terms of American law or international law or even Natural law or basic morality, but for sure it is Darwinian law- if this is not being to Atheistic on Yom Kippur.

Saturday, September 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have lost my job and my son by the time you will read this. to get the story in french go to www.arts2win.com and clic on "mon you tube" governments simply dont get it! you can not build a society by killing fathers by removing their kids from them.
Robert Laporte

Saturday, September 22, 2007  
Blogger Stan said...

FH - its not the same guy. Yuri was/is a successful business man in Ukraine. He was not a loser/boozer or anything of the type. I believe that is how he met his ex-wife - from conducting business in Russia/Ukraine.

Sunday, September 23, 2007  
Blogger Alex said...

well, it happens... there's nothing to surprise... it's all about the woman and her attitude...

Sunday, September 23, 2007  
Anonymous Bob Dowlut said...

Title 18, United States Code, Section 1204, makes it an offense to remove a child who has been in the United States from the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights. Such an offense is punishable by a fine under Title 18, imprisonment for not more than three years, or both. States have similar laws.

The statute enumerates four stated purposes to combat the historical lack of prosecution: (1) by making this action a federal offense the United States Government has a direct basis for requesting extradition with those countries with which we have treaties; (2) the threat of federal criminal sanctions will deter at least some potential offenders; (3) this new crime allows the issuance of federal warrants that will assist United States diplomatic negotiations with foreign governments for the return of kidnapped children; and, (4) enactment of such stern measures will clarify to other countries the seriousness with which the United States regards these cases.

Criminal prosecution merely addresses the status of the offender and does not address the welfare or the return of the child. Civil efforts regarding the return of the child, including making an application under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abductions through the Office of Children's Issues at the Department of State, should be considered by the left behind parent in conjunction with or in lieu of criminal prosecution. Congress specifically stated that international child kidnapping statute should not detract from the operation of the Convention and that the Convention is the primary vehicle for the return of children. By contrast, Congress specifically anticipated the use of the international child kidnapping statute particularly in abductions to countries not party to the Hague Convention.

The federal or state prosecution of international abductors depends upon extradition, and extradition in turn depends upon the particular treaty in question. Extradition is not always available for the offense of parental kidnapping, whether charged under federal or state law, because: (1) the United States does not have extradition treaties with every country; (2) many countries with which we do have extradition treaties will not extradite their own nationals; and, (3) the facts of a particular offense may not constitute an extraditable offense in the requested country. On the whole, however, in the minority of cases that warrant criminal prosecution, extradition has been a useful means to return an offender to the United States to face penalties for unlawful behavior.

As noted, most state and local jurisdictions are able to prosecute abduction cases under state law and seek international extradition. The use of the federal statute rests upon a particular federal interest in the case, including: a particularly egregious factual scenario; the use of false identification, including United States passports or travel documents; the use of wire or mail communications; interstate travel and international travel; as well as other typically federal interests, possibly reflected in additional charges.

The decision to pursue a criminal prosecution must be made on a case by case basis, mindful of the effect of the prosecution on the victims of the crime, the abducted child and the left-behind parent. As noted, criminal prosecution may be counterproductive as to the return of the child by civil process, and civil process is indicated when it is an available and effective means for the return of the child. However, criminal prosecution may be particularly effective to intercept abductions in process. Specifically, the federal warrant may be used to: apprehend an abductor before they leave the United States; request provisional arrest upon the abductor's entry to a foreign country or as they enter or leave a transit country; and, ground an Interpol red notice to prevent entry to a foreign country or expulsion after entry.

Factors that bear on bringing criminal charges in a completed abduction include: the availability of civil means, including operation of the Hague Convention, to return the child; willful refusal of the abductor to honor valid return orders under the Hague Convention; the use of false identification and travel papers to secrete the abductor and child; a continuing pattern of secretion and flight; and, particular violence or other facts militating for criminal prosecution. In appropriate cases, criminal prosecution and extradition of offenders could proceed with efforts under the Hague Convention to recover the child. Abductions which are wrongful retentions past a period of appropriate custody should be closely scrutinized for handling under the Hague Convention.

Investigative jurisdiction for this statute is vested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Complaints and referrals for investigation may also come from state and local prosecutors, private lawyers, or from individuals. It is recommended that U.S. Attorneys in multi-district states work together to develop a uniform state-wide approach to avoid marked differences in referral procedures and guidelines within the same state.

The investigation of a parental kidnapping involves recourse to the civil and family court files, child and family welfare and social service agency files, and the files of the Office of Children's Issues for a sound determination of "parental rights," as well as the typical investigation of the actual abduction and flight. Other useful resources include the manuals published by the American Prosecutors Research Institute on parental kidnapping, as well as Department of State publications.

Since its enactment, the federal law has been used to prosecute a small number of offenders. It was challenged in United States v. Amer, 110 F.3d 873 (2d Cir 1997). The court upheld Ahmed Amer's conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1204. The defendant had been convicted, after a jury trial, of violating the statute, and was sentenced to a term of 24 months imprisonment, and a one year supervised release term, with a special condition that he return the abducted children to the United States from Egypt. He failed to return the children and served an additional year. The children remain in Egypt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

Nice find Bob. Thanks as usual.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007  

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