OTTAWA – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) on May 17 called on the government of Canada to take a strong stand in support of Ukrainian political prisoners illegally jailed by Russia. The UCC urged Canada to immediately implement sanctions against Russian officials responsible for these deplorable violations of inalienable human rights.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UCC National President Paul Grod outlined that “the Russian regime has illegally imprisoned over 50 Ukrainian citizens, including Oleh Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Stanislav Klikh and many others.”
Mr. Grod called on Prime Minister Trudeau to “demand that Russia immediately release these Ukrainian political prisoners and that Canada utilize the Magnitsky Act to implement sanctions against Russian officials responsible for gross violations of human rights.”
The UCC also called on Canada, which holds the G-7 Presidency in 2018, to ensure that one of the priorities of the upcoming G-7 leaders’ summit focuses on ending Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On May 14, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a farcical show trial, declared a hunger strike. In a letter to his lawyer, Mr. Sentsov stated, “The only condition for ending it is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners held by Russia. Together to the end. Glory to Ukraine!”
Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh, illegally imprisoned by the Russian occupation authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea, has been on a hunger strike for over 50 days in protest of his illegal detention.
The UCC expressed its deep solidarity and profound admiration for the courage of Messrs. Sentsov and Balukh, and all other Ukrainian political prisoners, victims of a repressive, brutal Russian regime that routinely and systematically flouts international law and universal human rights, and wages wars of aggression against its neighbors.
In October 2017, the Justice for Victims of Foreign Corrupt Officials Act (Magnitsky Act) became the law of the land in Canada. The Magnitsky Act provides “for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” To date, the government of Canada has taken no action against Russian officials responsible for the illegal imprisonment and violation of human rights of Ukrainian political prisoners, the UCC pointed out.