Canada to restrict entry of some Ukrainian government officials
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 2:37PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 28, 2014 4:44PM EST
Canada will restrict entry of “key” Ukrainian government officials into the country, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced Tuesday in the wake of a violent crackdown on protesters in that country.
As the Conservative caucus stood behind him, Alexander said that the move is “effective immediately,” but did not specify which Ukrainian officials would be subject to the new measure.
“Recent actions by members of Ukraine's ruling elite in the face of popular and growing protests have been utterly deplorable, and compel us to take targeted and meaningful action,” Alexander said, adding that the federal government will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine and consider taking further action if necessary.
“We believe it will take more than words to establish trust with the people, and Canada will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, who courageously continue to speak out in support of democracy,” Alexander said.
When asked by reporters what kind of sanctions Canada would consider, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird would only say that “this is not the final step for Canada,” and that the federal government is prepared to “increase action if and when it is required.”
The move comes a day after Parliament held an emergency debate about the growing crisis in Ukraine. During the debate, Parliamentarians condemned the Ukrainian government’s violent crackdown on protesters and considered targeted sanctions against President Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle.
On Tuesday, both Alexander and Baird said they “strongly condemn” the killing of protesters who have gathered in Kyiv’s main square since November to protest the government’s move away from efforts to establish closer economic co-operation with the European Union.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government took steps to defuse the crisis. The prime minister resigned, and parliament repealed anti-protest laws that sparked the violent confrontations between protesters and police after several weeks of nearly peaceful demonstrations.
However, opposition parliamentarians want Yanukovych to step down and call an election.
Alexander said that while Canada welcomes the recent developments in Ukraine, “more needs to be done. The Ukrainian government must address the fundamental demands of the people, including accountability and a full embrace of democratic principles.”
Baird said that since the protests started, “Canada has been engaged at the highest levels,” and he has instructed Canadian diplomats to remain in contact with their American and European diplomats.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted on Monday, Baird said, “this backward slide to Soviet-style repression and intimidation is not acceptable. Ukraine has come too far from those days. Canada will not stand idly by as the shadow of old tyranny looms over the innocent people of this great country.”