WAMU 88.5 : News

Ukrainian-Born Federal Judge Speaks Out On Crisis In Crimea

Play associated audio
Judge Bohdan Futey

President Barack Obama is leveling sanctions on 11 Russian officials said to be at the center of that country's military incursion in Crimea, and one local advocate for Ukraine is speaking out.

Bohdan Futey, a federal judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, emigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. in the 1950s when he was just 5 years old. His parents opposed the country's communist rulers and feared for their lives when they fled the country.

“My parents escaped communism during the war in 1944. They came without my grandfather. He didn't really know what was happening and was shot and killed right in my front yard," Futey says. "So my family then escaped to Germany where we lived in a displaced persons camp and then we went to Argentina where I lived for ten years."

Futey, who was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, says today's announcement by Obama is reinforced by his decision to send Vice President Joe Biden overseas to reassure allies in the region.

"Sending the vice president to the Baltic countries for consultation is reassuring and a demonstration of U.S. commitment to the area, and that's extremely, extremely important," he says.

Futey claims Russia's actions, especially this weekend's attempt to annex the autonomous region of Crimea, are driven by President Vladimir Putin, who he says favors a return to communism.

"He said that the end of the Soviet Union was the biggest mistake of the 20th century and he wants to revive the new Soviet Union as an empire," says Futey, who observed parliamentary elections in his homeland in 1994 and 1998.

The U.S. Government is calling this past weekend’s referendum vote allowing Russia to absorb Crimea illegal. Futey agrees and explains why.

“The referendum was illegal and unconstitutional, but also according to the constitution of the autonomous region of Crimea it is unconstitutional because the constitution of Crimea says that any referendum will be conducted in accordance with the constitution of Ukraine.

The White House warns more sanctions could follow if Putin formally annexes Crimea later this week.


Risk Of Opioid Overdose Climbs At Middle Age

Most of the millions taking prescription painkillers are older than 45, research shows, and there's been a recent increase in drug overdose deaths among people over 55. Drug mixing is partly to blame.

The Environmental Cost Of Growing Food

Economists are working on ways to put a price on the environmental damage of growing food. Take sugar: Half of what we eat comes from beets, half from cane. Each has an impact, in very different ways.

Bernie Sanders Has A Message For The Political Moment

Bernie Sanders entered the race for president talking about a political revolution at moment when Democratic voters and young people were primed to hear it.

'Captain America' Is Trending In Nigeria But You Might Be Surprised Why

Nigerian netizens are using the hashtag #CaptainAmericaInNigeria as a vehicle for cheeky social and political commentary.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.