Ukraine says panel has jurisdiction to hear Russia case

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of "wholesale violations" of its mineral resources and fishing rights in the Black Sea and other waters bordered by the two countries as Kiev urged international arbitrators to hear a case about alleged Russian breaches of a United Nations maritime treaty.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Olena Zerkal told a five-judge arbitration panel that Russia's objections to the panel's jurisdiction "are without legal merit.Read more on

Ukraine president takes political stage in dramatic fashion

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's new president, a comedian before he turned to statecraft, made a dramatic entrance to the political stage Monday, disbanding parliament minutes after his inauguration.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won 73% of the vote last month, justified his contentious decision on the grounds that the legislature, controlled by allies of the man he defeated, is riddled with self-enrichment.

Elections to the Supreme Rada were scheduled for Oct.Read more on

Ukraine’s new leader moves quickly to dissolve parliament

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Emboldened by his stunning victory last month, Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy moved swiftly Monday to dissolve the country's parliament, moments after he was sworn in as the country's new president.

Zelenskiy, who won 73% of the vote last month, justified his contentious decision to dissolve the parliament, which is controlled by allies of the man he defeated, Petro Poroshenko, on the grounds it has become a hotbed of self-enrichment.

A presidential decree formally disbanding the parliament is expected later Monday.Read more on

Ukraine’s new leader gets sworn in, dissolves parliament

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as the country's new president on Monday, promised to stop the war in the country's east against Russian-backed separatists and immediately disbanded parliament, which he has branded as a group only interested in self-enrichment.

Even before he disbanded the Supreme Rada, which had been one of his campaign promises, the 41-year-old Zelenskiy had upended the traditions of Ukrainian politics.

He ditched the idea of a traditional motorcade to his inauguration, walking to the parliament through a park packed with people.Read more on

TV comedian Zelenskiy sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Television star Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been sworn in as Ukraine's next president after he beat the incumbent at the polls last month.

The ceremony was held at Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on Monday morning.

Zelenskiy ditched the idea of a traditional motorcade and walked to the parliament through a park packed with people.Read more on

The Power and Sensitivity of Pianist Dmitri Levkovich

NEW YORK—Between cups of coffee and a stroll in the park, Dmitri Levkovich practiced Chopin on his piano. Just playing a few phrases, he induced a quiver of delight that instantly filled his cozy apartment, nestled in Upper Manhattan. You could imagine how this emerging pianist could easily transport audiences in fully packed concert halls.
When he performed recently for Europe’s premier cultural TV channel, ARTE, he was introduced as “a thundering virtuoso” by the beloved tenor Rolando Villazón, no less. “Your whole soul sings when you play the piano. We are very grateful,” Villazón, the host of the program “Stars of Tomorrow,” told Levkovich.

To engender that kind of impact with such ease, however, requires unrelenting dedication. “There is no art without sacrifice,” Levkovich said, standing by his electronic baby grand piano.
“As a pianist, you have to put so many hours into preparing for a program. … I feel responsible for my audience, so when I perform I am in touch with my feelings as much as possible. I strive to be possessed by the music—in the sense that the music takes over my body and I am one with the whole experience. That’s how I invite my audience to share the experience,” Levkovich said.
Taking some respite after performing for ARTE TV in Germany, performing at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois, and winning the first prize in the NTD International Piano Competition in New York (his 19th competition win), Levkovich spoke candidly about his life, music, and the challenges he faces as a performing artist.

Given the abundance of talented pianists today compared to the number of classical music concertgoers, the competition is extraordinarily high. Levkovich can play equally well on the brighter New York Steinway or the warmer, more sensitive Hamburg Steinway. That has given him a slight advantage in winning piano competitions. Although he finds any competition to be very stressful, he almost feels obligated to participate because it gives him opportunities to perform and to become more known.
He has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and the Mariinsky Concert Hall, among other great halls. Yet no matter where he has performed so far, how sharp he looks in a tuxedo at the piano, or how much his biography impresses—for the time being, he can only afford an electronic piano for practicing between concerts.
Dmitri Levkovich performs with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, in Cleveland, Ohio, in August 2009. (Roger Mastroianni)
“Most young pianists can’t afford their own pianos,” he said. “It’s a difficult profession and it’s quite incredible—it’s quite an achievement to even be able to survive solely on performing, which I still manage to do.”
Born for Music
Listening to Levkovich play in person, even for just a few phrases of Chopin, or listening to his “Rachmaninoff 24 Preludes” CD, you get a sense that he was born to play the piano. In fact, he was exposed to Brahms in the womb; his mother is a pianist, as is his father, who is also a renowned composer. His grandmother was a coloratura soprano.
Immersed in a musical family, he started playing the piano when he was 3 years old, and went through a pivotal shift by the time he was 8.
“I threw enough tantrums until my mother just gave up and told me I don’t have to practice anymore. Suddenly, for three or four hours I existed in a different dimension where I was a free human being. Those hours of my life were just wonderful! Then I realized I missed the piano, and from my own desire I started playing the instrument. After that, I never felt I needed to be told to practice. It was my own choice,” he said.
His family migrated from Ukraine to Israel around the time the Soviet Union collapsed, then later settled in Canada. Levkovich later moved to the United States to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music with the critically acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan for 11 years. Babayan instilled a strong sense of forbearance and reinforced Levkovich’s deep love for music.
Levkovich’s piano playing matches his demeanor—an amiable mix of humility and ambition. He plays every musical phrase, clearly with just the right degree of embellishment, rendered with a wonderfully calibrated mix of intense passion and lightness.
He pushes himself like an Olympic athlete, wanting to play pieces flawlessly even if he were woken up in the middle of the night and asked to perform a piece of music while half-asleep. “What you have to expect from yourself should be almost unrealistic, to get fine results,” he said.
When he prepares for a concert, he will practice the difficult parts of the repertoire twice as fast. That way, while performing, he does not feel like he’s playing at the limit of his dexterity and has more freedom to vary the tempo as he gives his interpretation.
Dmitri Levkovich at his home in Hudson Heights, New York, on Oct. 10, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
“There are so many ways to shape a phrase. You can practice it 10 different ways and come up with a multitude of options. Then on stage, it’s a matter of picking the right option in the context of what is happening before and what is happening after each moment—also depending on the sophistication of your taste,” Levkovich said.
The conditions for each piece and each concert are always unique. “You are creating this piece from the first note to the last, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. … Chopin used to call it ‘searching fingers,'” Levkovich said.
Dmitri Levkovich. (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)
He has received consistent compliments for sounding unique and honing his interpretations quite differently for each composer in his repertoire: Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, Liszt, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky, among others.
What you have to expect from yourself should be almost unrealistic, to get fine results.— Dmitri Levkovich

Levkovich periodically asks himself how he wants to develop his repertoire and how much time he wants to dedicate to each composer. “I always listen to my intuition,” he said. “When I love a certain piece of music, I have to at least learn the notes and try it at first. Then I know it will take years of me playing many more pieces of that same composer for me to get to where I want to be.”
While some pianists may hide their lack of talent, ironically, by playing obscure or complicated pieces, Levkovich finds Mozart most challenging. On the surface, it may be easier to show off, so to speak, with a complicated dissonant piece for example, than it would be to play a clear classical piece.
“One of the most difficult things to accomplish on the piano is to play a simple melody organically—so that it is fulfilling enough,” he said. “That’s why Mozart is so difficult to play, because he’ll often have two lines and that is all. You’ll have enough time to [make] every note [meaningful].
“It took me a while to start feeling comfortable playing Mozart’s sonatas. His concertos were easier. You feel like you’re on a cloud of orchestral sound and very often you have just one line happening with the right hand.”
The Russian pianist, composer, and conductor Anton Rubinstein once said, “The soul of the piano is in the pedal,” but with Mozart, there isn’t much opportunity to use the pedal—to open up all the richness of harmonics and overtones in the piano. “You have to find a way to play soulfully without the pedal,” Levkovich said. “It’s like mastering a different language, in which you have to find a different way to really speak from your heart.”
Pianist Dmitri Levkovich at Fort Tryon Park in New York on Oct. 10, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
As a performer, Levkovich’s ultimate goal is to be fully present, without any worries or notions while playing something like a Mozart sonata, so that it doesn’t become predictable even if it has been played a million times before.
“I think there have been times when I knew I really got it. I cannot fool myself; I know when it’s happening and when it’s not,” he said.
“What inspires me is my love for music, which has been with me since I was a child. … There are obstacles, but what’s important in this profession is having the will and the perseverance—to dedicate as much time as needed—so that eventually the love for the music that you discovered as a kid eventually is heard in every note you play. No matter how long it takes,” Levkovich said.
“This Is New York” is a feature series that delves into the lives of inspiring individuals in New York City. See all our TINYs at, or follow@milenefernandezon Twitter.
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Your Evening News Brief in Pictures: August 24, 2015

Lebanese activists chant slogans during an anti-government protest in front the main Lebanese government building, downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Organizers of the “You stink” protests that have captivated the Lebanese capital postponed anti-government demonstrations set for Monday evening after a night of violent clashes with police during which dozens of protesters and police officers were wounded. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko hands over a flag of a military unit as a soldier kisses the flag before a military parade on the occasion of Ukraine’s Independence Day in the capital Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Speaking at the parade, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine would continue to increase its troop numbers in order to fend off the attacks of separatist rebels. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool)Thousands of Palestinian United Nations workers demonstrate against measures the organization has taken to overcome an acute financial crisis in Gaza City, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. The protest today outside the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Gaza headquarter was the largest in a series of demonstrations in recent weeks, called up by the agency’s Local Staff Union. The protesters say they want the UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl to cancel amendments that allow him to impose a one-year unpaid leave on staff when needed and increase the number of students in classrooms. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)Disaster response personnel walk next to the wreckage of an Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison aircraft that crashed in Soibugh on the outskirts of Srinagar on Aug. 24, 2015. The pilot bailed out and was rescued by an army helicopter near the crash site, after the aircraft went down on a routine training flight, officials said. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images) NASA astronauts shot this unusual photograph of a red sprite above the white light of an active thunderstorm. The sprite was 2,200 kilometers (1,400 miles) away, high over Missouri or Illinois; the lights of Dallas, Texas appear in the foreground. (NASA)A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Aug. 24, 2015, in New York. As the global economy continues to react from events in China, markets dropped significantly around the world on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average briefly dropped over 1000 points in morning trading. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (L-R) French President Francois Hollande shakes hands with Off-duty serviceman Spencer Stone next to off-duty serviceman Alek Skarlatos on Aug. 24, 2015, during a reception at the Elysee Palace in Paris, to be awarded with France’s top Legion d’Honneur medal in recognition of their bravery after they overpowered the train attacker. (Michel Euler/AFP/Getty Images) Conservation activists hold banners as they demonstrate in Nairobi, on Aug. 24, 2015, against the release on bail of suspected ringleader of an ivory smuggling gang Feisal Mohammed Ali on Aug. 21 by a court in Mombasa, where he has been in jail since December last year after he was arrested by Interpol agents in Dar es Salaam. “Ivory kingpin” Ali is charged with possession of and dealing in elephant tusks weighing more than two tonnes — equivalent to at least 114 slaughtered elephants and worth an estimated $4.5 million (4.2 million euros). (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) A woman squats in a window of a badly flooded hall after strong rains hit Shanghai on Aug. 24, 2015. Heavy rains brought by a cold front and enhanced by passing Typhoon Goni, currently near Japan’s Okinawa islands, brought flooding to many districts across Shanghai. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) A boy from Syria standing at the entrance of a tent cries and calls for his mother in the port of Mytilene, on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on Aug. 24, 2015. With 1200 to 2000 people reaching the shores of the island in inflatable boats from Turkey on a daily basis, both of the island’s transit camps are full, and many migrants choose to sleep in the port and parks. An aid groupd warned on August 18 that an unprecedented spike in refugee arrivals on Greek shores is pushing the resort island of Lesbos to “breaking point”. In the week prior to that alone, 20,843 migrants—virtually all of them fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq—have arrived in Greece, which has seen around 160,000 migrants land on its shores since January. (Achilleas Zavallis/AFP/Getty Images) A baby and a woman, framed by a life buoy, who were rescued together other migrants, wait to disembark from the Irish Navy vessel LE Niamh at the Messina harbor in Sicily, Italy, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Italy’s coast guard says it coordinated the rescue of some 4,400 migrants in a single day, Sunday, a record-setting number, as smugglers took advantage of idea sea conditions off Libya to launch a fleet of overcrowded, unseaworthy boats. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi) Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane departs after her preliminary hearing Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Kane is accused of leaking secret grand jury information to the press, lying under oath and ordering aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on an investigation into the leak. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) James Stumbo (2nd L) and Kevin Norton (R) both of Iowa, stand in court during their arraignment at Boston Municipal Court in Boston, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, with their lawyers Steven Goldwyn (L) and John O’Neill, Jr., (2nd R). Stumbo and Norton were arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and other firearms charges after allegedly threatening the Pokémon World Championships at Hynes Convention Center in Boston. (Chitose Suzuki/Boston Herald via AP, Pool) Palestinian boys ride a donkey to go to school on the first day of the new school year on Aug. 24, 2015, in the West Bank village of Susya, south-east of Hebron. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)