Central and Eastern European Communities in Canada Condemn Russian Sanctions Waivers

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council of Canada (CEEC), representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage strongly condemns Canada’s decision to grant Airbus Canada and Bombardier sanctions waivers, allowing it to import titanium from Russia.

It is deeply disturbing that the Canadian government granted a sanctions waiver while Russian aircraft, drones and missiles target and destroy Ukrainian towns, cities and infrastructure and kill innocent civilians.

According to a CBC report, as much as $13 billion US has been added to Moscow’s war chest by the export of minerals, such as titanium, providing significant funding for Vladimir Putin’s war making abilities. This is more than the combined military and economic support Canada has given to Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began two years ago.

Reuters reported that Airbus secured waivers for sanctions imposed on the Russian company VSMPO-AVISMA. According to reports, VSMPO-AVISMA is 25% owned by Rostec, the state-owned armament company that manufactures missiles, precision weapons, and equipment for the Russian air force, and is 65% owned by the former investment director of Rostec. The links between this company and the Kremlin and its war making machine are clear.

We call upon the Canadian government to calls on the Canadian government to immediately revoke this sanctions waiver and enforce sanctions imposed on this totalitarian regime.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

Central and Eastern European Communities in Canada Condemn Attacks Against Israel

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council of Canada (CEEC), representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, is outraged by these cowardly and unprovoked acts of violence, which have targeted innocent civilians and stands with the Jewish community in Canada to unequivocally condemn them.

The targeting of civilians by Hamas and the rockets that have been indiscriminately fired into Israeli cities and towns, killing and injuring innocent men, women, and children is a clear violation of international law and human rights.

We condemn Hamas’s taking of civilians hostage, the cold-blooded slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women, children, and the elderly, and reports of sexual violence against Israeli women who attended a peaceful music festival attacked by Hamas.

We call on the government of Canada to take action against the Iranian government for its material support of Hamas and the Russian government, including weapons of terror that are indiscriminately used against innocent civilians in Israel and Ukraine. This includes placing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on Canada’s Terrorist entity list, and investigating and prosecuting Canadians who are profiting from the supply of weapons to Hamas, Russia, or any other organizations involved in terror operations against Canada’s allies.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

CEEC Welcomes Expansion of Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference To Include Russia

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council of Canada (CEEC), representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, supports the collective decision made by all federal political parties to broaden the scope of the forthcoming public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada’s federal electoral processes and its democratic institutions to include Russian interference in Canada’s democratic processes.

We thank the Government of Canada for its specific directive to the inquiry to scrutinize and evaluate our government’s capacity to support and safeguard members of our diaspora communities, who, due to their unique circumstances, are particularly vulnerable and have fallen victim to foreign interference.

Central and Eastern European communities, along with dedicated activists within our ranks, have found themselves recurrently targeted by Russian information and influence operations ever since their arrival in Canada as refugees during the post-World War II era. These calculated assaults encompass disinformation campaigns aimed at inciting hatred against our communities, our activists, and the nations from which our families originally hailed.

As a consequence, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our communities have faced imminent threats and an alarming surge in violent incidents, regrettably overlooked by the Canadian government.

We urge the government and Commissioner to invite the victims of foreign transnational intimidation and repression to testify at the hearing, including representatives and activists from the Central and Eastern European communities and those from the Hong Kong, Iranian, Uyghur and Tibetan communities.

CEEC President Marcus Kolga declared, “We must not permit authoritarian regimes such as those in Russia, China, and Iran to aggressively propagate hate towards Canadian diaspora communities or employ intimidation to silence them. Through this inquiry, we hope that the government will unequivocally pinpoint vulnerabilities and actively strive to ensure the safety of our communities, not only from foreign regimes but also from their enablers and collaborators in Canada.”

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

Central and Eastern European Council of Canada Condemns Anti-Ukrainian Graffiti and Hate

August 2, 2023

Toronto – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada expresses deep concern regarding the escalating hate directed towards Canadians of Ukrainian and Central and Eastern European heritage. We urgently implore the Canadian government to hold those supporting and encouraging such hateful behavior accountable, including personnel at the Russian Embassy in Canada.

Recently, the Sainte-Sophie Ukrainian summer camp in Chertsey, Quebec, experienced an act of vandalism, with Russian neo-fascist and anti-Ukrainian slogans defacing a sign. This incident represents just the latest in a series of efforts by radicalized pro-Kremlin activists to intimidate Ukrainian Canadians and promote hatred against them.

Over the past 15 months, vehicles displaying the Ukrainian flag have been targeted, with their tires slashed and windows smashed. Additionally, a Ukrainian-owned bakery in Toronto has suffered multiple acts of vandalism. Reports from CBC earlier this year indicated that Ukrainian students in Ottawa were facing harassment and intimidation. It is essential to acknowledge that these hate crimes are not confined to the Ukrainian community alone. Last year, the Estonian community in Canada received a threatening letter, implying the use of anthrax if their support continued.

The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing 4.5 million Canadians of CEE heritage, unequivocally condemns all forms of intimidation and hate based on ethnic identity. We stand together with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in advocating for eight crucial points to combat the rise of anti-Ukrainian and anti-Central and Eastern European hatred in Canada:

  1. Issue a public statement unequivocally condemning the rising pattern of hate-motivated attacks against the Ukrainian Canadian community and supporters of Ukraine;
  2. Develop and deliver programs to educate the public and counter disinformation that incites hatred against Ukrainians;
  3. Develop and deliver programs of media literacy as part of a national core curriculum starting in pre-school, similar to the program developed in Finland;
  4. Educate the Canadian public to identify state sponsored propaganda and online information that is intended to mislead;
  5. Renew and reinstate the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) that provided federal funding for enhancing the security of community buildings and places of worship;
  6. Expel diplomats of the Russian Federation and others, including agents of foreign interference who foment, orchestrate and finance campaigns of hatred against Ukrainians;
  7. Prevent entry into Canada of supporters of Vladimir Putin and his genocidal regime who embolden those who would foment hatred against Ukrainians;
  8. Introduce legislation that establishes a Foreign Agent Registry.

We call upon the government, civil society, and all Canadians to join us in combating hatred, fostering a more inclusive society, and safeguarding the dignity and rights of all our citizens, regardless of their ethnic background. Together, we can build a stronger, more harmonious Canada for everyone.

CEEC-Anti-Ukrainian-Hate (1)

Black Ribbon Day Canada 2023

TORONTO – On August 23rd, millions of Canadians, whose families were victims of Nazi and Soviet terror, will solemnly mark the 84th anniversary of the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. This treaty, signed on August 23, 1939, enabled the coordinated invasion and colonization of Europe between Nazi Germany and The Soviet Union. The families of these Canadians sought refuge in Canada after fleeing the horrors of Nazi and Soviet terror.

Unfortunately, over the past 17 months, the families of those Canadians who suffered under Soviet and Nazi terror during WWII have faced increasing threats due to Russian government narratives. These narratives seek to marginalize, dehumanize, and deny their suffering and experiences.

The Soviet, and subsequently, the Russian government and its sympathizers in Canada have long propagated disinformation, denying the well-documented crimes of Soviet Russia throughout Central and Eastern Europe during WWII and the Cold War. These false narratives even accuse the refugees who fled Soviet terror, as well as their families, of being “enemies” of Canada. The rise in harassment, incidents of vandalism and violence targeting Ukrainian Canadians and Canadians of Baltic heritage that we have seen since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 require more public investment in education about disinformation and a far stronger federal government response to foreign interference in Canada.

“The increasing hate towards communities that suffered Nazi German and Soviet Russian terror should concern all Canadians,” said CEE Council President Marcus Kolga. “The Russian government’s efforts to deny and distort this history aim to divide us and dehumanize millions of Canadians by rejecting our experiences and collective traumas.”

Over the past 17 months, Black Ribbon Day has taken on renewed significance, given Russia’s genocidal crimes and attempt to to re-colonize Ukraine in a savage manner. The unspeakable atrocities committed by Russia have reawakened the traumas experienced by millions of Canadians who fled Nazi German and Soviet Russian occupation and terror after WWII.

We encourage all Canadians to download the attached image and take a photograph with it, posting it on their social media accounts to raise awareness of Black Ribbon Day. Additionally, we urge all Canadians to tie a black ribbon outside their homes and wear a black ribbon to participate in Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations. These actions will demonstrate our solidarity with Ukraine and our Ukrainian Canadian friends.

For more information about Black Ribbon Day, visit blackribbonday.org

The following events will be happening across Canada:


Toronto (Ukrainian Independence Day)

Saturday, August 19, 1pm

Centennial Park

256 Centennial Park Road, Toronto



Saturday August 21 at 2 PM

Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza
750 Hornby St, Vancouver

CEEC Calls For Resignation of Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard

CEEC Calls For Resignation of Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard

August 12, 2022

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council of Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage calls on Amnesty International and Amnesty Canada to retract their recent report which justifies Russian war crimes against Ukraine and echoes Russian propaganda and disinformation narrative and for the resignation of Secretary General, Agnes Callamard.

The report published by Amnesty International, titled “Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians” claims that Ukrainian forces “have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas.” The report fails to recognize that, Ukrainian forces are required to be stationed inside urban areas under threat of Russian attack in order to defend them. The residents of villages, towns and cities in Central, Eastern and Southern Urkaine have endured shelling, arbitrary arrest, torture, systematic sexual violence and mass murder by invading Russian forces for the past six months – regardless of whether Ukrainian armed forces have been present or not. Using the twisted logic applied to this Amnesty report, the mere existence of Ukraine as a sovereign nation would be blamed for inviting invasion by Russian forces, and the presence of Ukrainian women in villages and towns occupied by Russian forces would be blamed for inviting sexual violence by Russian soldiers. 

Canadians expect Amnesty International to hold authoritarian regimes that engage in mass human rights and war crimes to account, not to justify them. The failure of Amnesty International to address the concerns of local staff about flaws within the report has led to the resignation of the head of Amnesty’s Ukraine chapter, Oksana Pokalchuk. 

The Amnesty report has been exploited by Russian government propagandists to justify its attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure citing it “as proof that Ukraine was using civilians as human shields.”

This is not the first time Amnesty International has assisted Russia’s authoritarian government. In 2021, it removed Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who had been poisoned and imprisoned by Russian authorities, from its list of political prisoners. Amnesty’s inexplicable downgrading of Navalny’s status represented a major victory for Vladimir Putin. Despite apologizing for turning a blind eye to Russian human rights abuse, Amnesty International has done more to an enable Russian violations of human rights and war crimes than to deter them.

The CEEC calls on Amnesty Canada to publicly reject Amnesty’s report and to impose mandatory training for its staff about the nature of Russian information and influence operations, and those undertaken by other unlawful authoritarian regimes. 

All war crimes require our attention, regardless of who has committed them. The growing list of atrocities committed by Russia’s invading forces must be investigated  and their perpetrators must be brought to justice. Any justification of Russian human rights abuse and war crimes – whether inadvertent, indirect or unintended – amounts to denialism.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

European Unity Day: United With Ukraine Photo Exhibition

TORONTO-  A new major exhibition featuring recent images from the war in Ukraine will be launched in Toronto’s City Hall on May 7th, 2022 and will be available for viewing by the public until May 13th. 

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its third month the unspeakable horrors imposed on the Ukrainian people by the invading Russian army continue to mount. Entire towns and cities have been destroyed by Russian bombardment and the refugees fleeing it are forced to evade Russian attacks. The democratic world has been shocked by Russian mass murder, systematic sexual violence and the targeting of civilian infrastructure over the past months. 

The photographs featured in the “European Unity Day in Toronto: United for Ukraine” exhibit hosted by the City of Toronto, feature the everyday experiences of Ukrainians who are scrambling to survive the barbaric invasion of their nation and the many who have not escaped its savagery.

The 30 “United for Ukraine” images have been captured through the lenses of leading Ukrainian photo journalists since the February 24th Russian invasion. The Exhibition also features photos from the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 which were taken by acclaimed Los Angeles Times journalist, Sergei Loiko, and demonstrate that Russia’s war against Ukraine now spans 8 years.

The exhibition has been organized by the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada and the Estonian Central Council in Canada in partnership with the International Festival of Contemporary Photography Odesa Photo Days, the Estonian Museum Canada/VEMU (Toronto), Cotton Factory (Hamilton), OKAPI Gallery (Estonia) and the Canadian Association of Russian Journalists. 

“This exhibition represents a broad partnership with the Central and Eastern European communities in Canada and civil society groups that have generously provided the prints of these images,” said Kairi Taul-Hemingway, President of the Estonian Central Council. 

“We cannot look away from the atrocities being committed by the Russian invaders against innocent Ukrainians as Putin seeks to wipe out Ukraine’s freedom, democracy, culture and language,” Marcus Kolga, President of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada said, “our own democracy and the freedom of our allies are at stake and are being defended by all Ukrainians today.”

The CEEC represents the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage.  The millions of Canadians whose families fled Russian Soviet era and Nazi terror after WWII, are grateful for the freedom, democracy and opportunities that Canada has provided and are proud of their contributions to helping build the Canada we know today.

Public Launch:

Toronto City Hall Rotunda, Saturday, May 7, 2pm.

Images from the exhibition:

CEEC Calls For A Ban of all Russian State Media from Canada’s Public Airwaves

April 7, 2022

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC) calls on the Government of Canada to ban all Russian state media from weaponizing Canada’s public airwaves as part of its information warfare on Ukraine, NATO and Canada. Russian state media threatens to radicalize parts of the Russian speaking community in Canada with anti-Ukrainian rhetoric. 

The CEEC thanks Rogers Communication for voicing the company’s concerns about Russian state media in Canada in a recent submission to the CRTC: “In our view, it would be appropriate for the commission to also consider removing … any programming service that is either owned or controlled by a state that is subject to Canadian sanctions.”

In 2019, CBC News published a report about anti-Ukrainian narratives that were being promoted by Russian state media news channels on the RTR Planeta and Russia 1 channels which are both available on Canadian public cable and satellite airwaves. Another Russian state media report published on April 3, 2022, called for the de-Ukrainiainzation of Ukraine. 

Such anti-Ukrainian narratives have intensified over the past months and correspond with rising anti-Ukrainian crimes reported in Canada.

The CEEC, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage,  calls on the Canadian government to immediately end the Russian government’s ability to weaponize Canada’s public airwaves to broadcast disinformation and anti-Ukrainian hate on its government controlled and owned channels, by banning them from Canada and placing sanctions on all Russian owned media entities.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

CEEC Calls on Canadian Government To Place Sanctions on Corrupt Russian Oligarchs With Assets in Canada, and Russian State Media Broadcasting in Canada

February 22, 2022

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC) calls on the Canadian government to immediately impose consequences for Vladimir Putin’s illegal action against Ukraine, and his efforts to destabilize the alliance of Western democracies.

Canada must freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs and their companies operating in Canada in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukrainian territory. Oligarchs who have been identified by journalists as enabling and holding Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth, are known to have assets in Canada. This information is openly and publicly available. The CEEC calls on Canada to work with allies to prohibit dealings in Russian sovereign debt, ban Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, and ensure that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is canceled.

Additionally, we demand that the Canadian government terminate the broadcasting licenses of Russian state owned and controlled media in Canada, including RT English and French, RTR Planeta and RTVi to prevent them from broadcasting hate and disinformation targeting Canadian ethnic communities and Canadian democracy on Canadian airwaves as part of the Kremlin’s cognitive warfare against Canadians. Sanctions should be immediately imposed on RT, it’s editor Margarita Simonovna Simonyan and Rossiya Segodnya to prevent those entities from profiting from the broadcast of disinformation and processing payments to Canadian proxies who contribute to their information and influence operations.

The CEEC represents the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

Estonian Defence Forces training with a Javelin anti-tank system.
Estonian Defence Forces training with a Javelin anti-tank system.

CEEC Calls on Canadian Government to Immediately Deliver Defensive Weapons to Ukraine

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC) is deeply concerned about the growing threat of Russian military invasion of Ukraine and strongly urges the Canadian government to help deter Russian violence by immediately delivering defensive weapons to support the defence of Ukrainian sovereignty. 

Russian military offensives around the world over the past decade have demonstrated a complete absence of concern for civilians and often feature mass human rights abuses. Should Russia invade Ukraine, the CEEC believes that the casualties inflicted on the Ukrainian people by Russia’s leaders will be catastrophic. Although Canada must be prepared to support a massive wave of refugees fleeing a Russian invasion, the government of Canada must act now to do all that it can to prevent such a situation.

While the supply of non-lethal weapons is welcome, the defence of Ukraine requires weapons that can stop Russian bombers and attack helicopters from terrorizing Ukrainian civilians and stopping armored weaponry that are capable of laying waste to urban centers. Canada should immediately follow the lead of the United Kingdom and United States, by delivering surface-to-air and anti-armor weapons systems to Ukraine.

Canada should also take leadership in the application of deterrent sanctions. This includes sanctioning associates of Vladimir Putin and his kleptocratic government who are already sanctioned by our allies but are absent from Canada’s Magnitsky sanctions list. Canada must immediately target the Russian oligarchs who directly enable Vladimir Putin and keep their significant wealth in Canada. Targeting Putin’s own wealth and those who support him will provoke an immediate change in the Kremlin’s calculus for war.

Finally, the Canadian government must immediately create a task force to defend the Canadian information environment and our democracy against Russian and other foreign influence and disinformation. Over the past weeks and years, Russian state media and its proxies in Canada have waged a targeted campaign against the Central and Eastern European communities in Canada with hateful narratives that are intended to deny their histories and discredit them in order to silence their voices. We urge the Canadian government to take immediate action to address the growing threat of Kremlin information warfare against Canada. 
The CEEC represents the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European Heritage.

For more information:  ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

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