Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MPs decry Ukrainian violence

OTTAWA—Canadians of Ukrainian origin are agonizing over loved ones caught up in the deadly violence that has re-erupted in Kyiv.
And they worry that sanctions being considered by Canada, the U.S., and the European Union to end the violence may come too late to save their former country from economic and political disaster.

Several dozen people sang and chanted yesterday during a protest on Parliament Hill to denounce the violence, which has taken the lives of at least 25 people in the Ukrainian capital.
The demonstration came as Ottawa announced that Canada’s embassy in Kyiv would remain closed for a second day.
MPs James Bezan and Ted Opitz said in a statement they are “disgusted” by the callous behaviour demonstrated by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his regime.
Foreign Affairs minister John Baird noted Canada is considering a range of diplomatic options to send a message to the Yanukovych government, including targeted sanctions.
Baird said the Harper government would speak with other nations as it looked at possible further steps.
“I will . . . be consulting our allies and like-minded nations to build a co-ordinated path forward in the coming days,” Baird remarked.
But Olya Korzachenko of Ottawa, who for two days has been unable to reach relatives in Ukraine, fears it already may be too late for economic sanctions to have any meaningful effect.
“Enough talk,” Korzachenko said as she stood near the centennial flame at the heart of the parliamentary precinct.
“The authorities are moving their own personal millions and billions into banks around the world and while we talk, all of this is going on—Ukraine is being raped and nobody in the West, nobody in Europe is doing anything,” she charged.
The escalating anger over the protests—and the government’s crackdown—has fuelled fears that Ukraine could be sliding toward civil war.
But protesters in Ottawa largely dismissed that notion, blaming Russia for the violence and saying they didn’t believe Ukrainians would fight Ukrainians.
Already there have been reports of security forces in Kyiv surrendering to protest groups.
Sanctions against Ukraine could include a travel ban on prominent officials and a freezing of assets belonging to the powerful oligarchs who back Yanukovych.
Canada also will provide medical supplies to Ukrainian activists through a contribution to a Ukrainian non-governmental organization.
As the violent protests continued yesterday in Kyiv, Yanukovych said he had replaced the chief of the country’s armed forces.
The presidential decree came as Ukraine’s acting defence minister said the army was considering a nationwide anti-terrorist operation to restore order.
Yanukovych’s government frequently has referred to the protesters demanding his resignation as “terrorists.”

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