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