Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
During the early morning of Friday May 13, yet another Ukrainian community building in Edmonton was vandalized with swastikas. This time it was the home of the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian National Federation. Two swastikas were spraypainted on the wall and two more on a large poster hanging on the fence around the parking lot which read “Stop Putin. Stop War.”
Without question this was a hate crime very much aligned with the vicious propaganda Moscow uses to justify its invasion of Ukraine, its claims to be de-Nazifying the country, its war crimes, and its ongoing acts of genocide against the people of Ukraine.
This attempt to tar Ukrainians with the Nazi brush is not only patently absurd, but profoundly evil.
Let’s examine the facts:
• Ukraine elected a Jewish president with a 73% landslide;
• Ukrainians now give that same president an approval rating of 97%;
• Far-right parties eked out a smaller percentage of the vote in Ukraine than in any other country in Europe;
•In fighting Russian aggression, Ukraine has followed internationally-recognized conventions intended to protect civilians and treat prisoners humanely.
On the other hand:
• Russia invaded Ukraine without any provocation or justification;
• From the very first day of the invasion, Russia has resorted to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians. This is a war crime. Russia has targeted schools, hospitals, maternity wards, and all forms of civilian infrastructure. Russian soldiers have looted people’s homes, and stolen food and grain supplies;
• Russian soldiers have raped women, and even children;
• The Russian army has tortured its prisoners of war and even killed them;
The Russian army has used illegal weapons, like cluster bombs, which are specifically designed to kill civilians, especially children;
• The Russian minister of foreign affairs says Hitler was a Jew;
• The Russian minister of foreign affairs says Jews are the biggest anti-Semites.
So, who really are the Nazis in this conflict?
What is even more frightening about this latest attack on our community is that it is part of a continuing pattern of events.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 there have been a number of incidents – violent ones and extremely dangerous ones.
• On March 9, after an Edmonton Oilers – Washington Capitals hockey game at Rogers Centre, Russian-speaking thugs set upon a group of Ukrainian community members holding up signs protesting the war and physically assaulted them, while a policeman stood by;
• In Toronto, people have stopped cars carrying Ukrainian flags and smashed-in their windshields when children were sitting in the back seat;
• And, in the most dangerous incident, the home of Father Yuriy Vyshnevskyy, pastor for St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Victoria was torched while the family was still inside. They barely managed to escape.
“This isn’t fun and games anymore. This isn’t just a little bit of vandalism. This is physical attacks on people as we had at the Rogers Centre here in Edmonton. This is arson. This is attempted murder. So, it’s time that the government took this seriously. Find out who these perpetrators are. The are hate-motivated crimes. And that we trace the origin of this incident — perhaps to a certain embassy in Ottawa and then we’ll call for the removal of those so-called diplomats,” said Ukrainian Canadian Congress National President Alexandra Chyczij during a breakfast meeting with leaders of Edmonton’s Ukrainian community at the Chateau Louis, May 14.
She added that the UCC will be calling upon the Minister of Public Safety to investigate these incidents and find out who is behind these acts of hatred.
The UCC also wants the government to provide extra security both for buildings occupied by Ukrainian organizations in Canada and for individuals active in our community.
We fully back these requests. On the local level police should be investigating these criminal acts as hate crime because that brings stiffer penalties, while on a national level we need to determine whether there is in fact an organized campaign.
The fact that we are witnessing an increasing number of hate crimes across the country and the fact that they are directed against those seeking to assist innocent victims of the war as opposed to those defending Putin’s genocidal aims in Ukraine make them highly suspicious. Considering the massive groundswell of public support for Ukraine among Canadians and considering the complete disregard Russians supporting Putin have for any civilized behaviour makes this even more suspicious.
It may very well be that the Russian Embassy is behind these incidents. Certainly, their diplomatic corps in Ottawa is riddled with FSB and GRU agents. But we cannot know for certain who is coordinating these incidents until a proper investigation is conducted.
So far there have been no deaths resulting from these incidents. But who knows how long that will last?