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U.S. and Ukrainian Officials Praise VOA's Ukrainian Service on 60th Anniversary


'Mission remains as critical as ever'

Washington, D.C., December 11, 2009 – U.S. and Ukrainian officials praised the Voice of America's (VOA) Ukrainian Service on its 60th anniversary, with a key member of Congress saying, "Today, its mission remains as critical as ever."

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Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, the longest-serving woman in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, told an audience at VOA that, "In the darkest hours of the Cold War, Ukrainians behind the Iron Curtain have received VOA broadcasts of accurate, balanced and comprehensive news and information."

Today, VOA continues to reach millions of Ukrainians with daily television shows and a vibrant website (www.VOANews.com/ukrainian/). "Ukrainians still look to VOA not only to hear about the Washington perspective on what is happening in Ukraine, but also to comprehend the American story … Today, its (VOA's) mission remains as critical as ever.”

Ukrainian Ambassador Oleh Shamshur, recalling his childhood behind the Iron Curtain, said no one understood better than him "how important" VOA's broadcasts were to Ukrainians before the Soviet Union dissolved and the country became independent in 1991.

Today, the service plays a crucial role in fostering bi-lateral relations and inter-cultural dialogue, and promoting democratic values, he said. Shamshur also read a note of congratulations from Ukrainian President President Viktor Yushchenko, who is seeking re-election in January 2010.

William Green Miller, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, said that VOA has a clear "present purpose," reaching Ukrainians with truthful information that has helped nurture a U.S.-Ukrainian dialogue.

Blanquita Cullum, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency that oversees the VOA, said the news organization will continue to play a leading role as a model of free and unbiased press during the upcoming presidential campaign.

And VOA Director Dan Austin said the Ukrainian Service has embraced "new technologies, new ways of getting out news and information" to Ukrainians. To mark the anniversary, VOA organized panel discussions with leading experts on, "The Economic and Political Situation in Ukraine," and, "Ukraine's Foreign Relations."

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States. VOA is the leading U.S. international broadcaster.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail us at askvoa@voanews.com.

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