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Catholic Campus in Ukraine Mourns Lecturer Killed in Protests

Bohdan Solchanyk was killed Feb. 20 at Independence Square in Kiev.

BY SONYA BILOCERKOWYCZ/CNA/EWTN NEWS

| Posted 2/21/14 at 4:09 AM

Jakub Szymczuk/GOSC NIEDZIELNY/Courtesy Aid to the Church in Need
 

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Catholic University, located in the far-western city of Lviv, is lamenting the death of one of its lecturers, who was killed Feb. 20 during anti-government protests in Kiev.

Bohdan Solchanyk, who was 29, lectured on modern history at the university and was killed at Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital during protests that have been ongoing since November.

“I really appreciated Bohdan as a creative young lecturer and researcher,” Olekander Zaitev, the former chair of Ukrainian Catholic University’s modern history department, told CNA Feb. 20.

“He was a true generator of ideas, had a creative attitude toward his work with students. He initiated a cinema seminar at UCU, where teachers and students discussed Soviet movies from historical and sociological perspectives. I took part in this seminar with great interest.”

Solchanyk was an archivist and sociologist with a special interest in electoral practices in contemporary Ukraine.

A statement on his death, made “with great sadness in our hearts,” was issued by Ukrainian Catholic University, calling Solchanyk “talented at everything, whether it was an amateur theatrical role or everyday teaching at the university.”

He earned a master's degree in sociology at Ivan Franko National University in Lviv and was a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Program for Social Research in Warsaw; he taught such courses as “The Soviet Union as a System” at Ukrainian Catholic University and was well regarded among faculty and students.

Solchanyk had a deep concern for Ukraine’s public life and was reported to have been active in the country’s Orange Revolution in 2004, when hundreds of thousands of protesters occupied Kyiv’s Independence Square, also called “Maidan,” in response to a contested presidential election.

The Orange Revolution was bloodless, but the current demonstrations saw their bloodiest days this week, with reports of up to 100 dead, both protesters and police forces, since Feb. 18.

The Ukraine protests first began after the government’s Nov. 21 announcement that it would not sign a major economic-partnership agreement with the European Union, in favor of a $15-billion bailout agreement with Russia. Tens of thousands of protesters have filled the streets of Kyiv and at times occupied government buildings.

Government security forces have been accused of shooting protesters with automatic weapons and at least one sniper rifle. One doctor told CNN she had treated 13 people she believes were targeted by professional snipers, on the grounds that the shots directly targeted victims’ hearts, brains and necks.

“We unequivocally affirm that responsibility for the current escalation rests solely on the government — personally Viktor Yanukovych and his ‘hawkish’ command,” the rectorate of Ukrainian Catholic University declared in a Feb. 19 statement.

“Every case of escalation, each more striking in its complete absurdity, slashes our hopes for a peaceful and wise solution to the crisis and brings us closer to a humanitarian catastrophe.

“May the merciful Lord fill us all with hope and courage to sacrificially serve Ukraine during these difficult trials!”