The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is calling on police to investigate the vandalism of the Ukrainian National Federation Hall (UNF) in Edmonton as a possible hate crime.
On Friday, people involved with the UNF found swastikas spray-painted on the building itself as well as on a “Stop Putin, Stop War” banner hanging just next to the building.
Marco Levytsky, spokesman for the UNF in Edmonton, said someone got a photo of the suspect vandalizing the building, but the vandal was wearing a balaclava. He said the image suggests it happened around 3 a.m.
“It’s disgusting,” he said. “It’s a symbol of hate.
“We’ll just have to clean it up.”
Levytsky said the UNF “leads, manages and organizes the welcoming committee for Ukrainian refugees coming to Edmonton,” and hundreds of people have already arrived in the city since the military invasion began.
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“We’re not going to be arrested,” he said, indicating he believed the vandal was aiming to intimidate the organization. “(Ukrainians arriving in Edmonton) have heard this Nazi lie all the time, so they won’t be surprised.”
“This is clearly an act to intimidate the Ukrainian-Canadian community who stand with Ukrainians in defense against Russia’s genocidal policies.
war,” the UCC said in a statement released Friday.
A spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Department told Global News they received a report of vandalism observed at the central building in Edmonton and are looking into the matter.
They said that because he was still “very early in the investigation” they could not comment further.
In its statement released on Friday, the UCC said that since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine nearly three months ago, “there has been a sharp increase in harassment, violence and intimidation against Ukrainian Canadians across the country”.
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“This latest vandalism follows an April 20 arson attack on a Ukrainian Catholic priest and his family in Victoria,” read the statement, which was signed by the president of the Alberta provincial council of UCC. , the president of the Edmonton branch of UCC. and the President of the Ukrainian National Federation. “These incidents have occurred across the country, targeting Ukrainian community facilities and churches as well as private properties.
“Given this increase in violence, we call on law enforcement to work closely with the Ukrainian community to ensure the continued safety of life and property and the prosecution of perpetrators to the fullest extent permitted by law. .”
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Levytsky said that while he doesn’t know who might be behind the vandalism, he is convinced it is the work of “someone who is obviously influenced by Russian propaganda”.
“(I believe) Russian propaganda is behind all of this,” he said, noting that Ukraine’s president is Jewish and won a landslide election victory for Ukrainians.
Levytsky added that with ongoing Russian actions in Ukraine resulting in a high civilian death toll, it bothers him to see people helping Ukrainians fleeing the war being targeted by vandals.
George Yopyk is Treasurer of the Edmonton Chapter of the UNF and Past President of the Chapter.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It is very serious.
“I don’t understand why people do stuff like that.”
He noted that he doesn’t believe vandalism reflects badly on the city, as Edmontonians as a whole have come together to help Ukrainians flee the violence.
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