“Russia gave Crimea to the Ukraine 60 years ago,” I caught on WNYC from a commentator with just a trace of a Russian accent. I showed off my new knowledge to my 22-year-old Russian Jewish barber Feruz Zayniev who, along with his family, received political asylum on fleeing Uzbekistan when that very new nation threw out the two million Russian residents.

“Sure, it was Khrushchev for the 300th anniversary of the Ukraine becoming part of Russia,” he offered, carefully cutting (he just received his license). “But nobody knows why he really did it,” he added and indeed in 1992, Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoy accused those who signed the transfer as suffering from “sunstroke or a hangover.”Yet none of this history emerged in print or in the telecasts – Russia was just making a power play to take over an historic part of the Ukraine; even this morning Obama ill-advised, threatened more sanctions if Russia took over more of the Ukraine – they will not.

“George I want to take you to Kiev and the Ukraine,” offered Dr. S. I. Samoylenko of the Soviet Academy of Science on one of my trips to Moscow. It was his birthplace and on that trip I was to learn that Ukrainians are not Russians and so much did they hate the Soviets that when Hitler invaded, thousands donned German uniforms to fight the Russians along with the Wehrmacht.

As we drove near Kiev, we past battle-blasted fields with shell holes still raw and opened, decades after the German Romanian drive to Crimea.

Stanislaw hated the party boss in charge of his group at the Academy who would make the scientists stand as he entered to sit at the head of the conference table; Stas would not stand.In the Kiev hotel, Stanislaw revealed to me his algorithm that could speed computer data flow by eliminating the error correction cycle. “Why are you telling me this Stas? Isn’t this something you should keep secret? Won’t you get into trouble if I help you connect to an American company to implement it?” He smiled and said the party members that controlled the scientists were too stupid to know how valuable it was.

Since my father was Greek, I had somehow picked up the knowledge that Christianity had entered Russia via the Ukraine when two Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius, brought Christianity to the Slavic southern border. Cyril contrived the first written language using the Greek Alphabet and new symbols to recreate the Slavic sound, hence the “Cyrillic” alphabet.

Stas wanted to show off his American so he encouraged a Ukrainian style cookout for a few friends and relatives (all male). It was late in the season and much too cold and I froze as I answered questions about life in America. One member of the party, vodka-encouraged, became more and more animated and finally pronounced “Americans are just like us.”

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