Central and Eastern European Council in Canada

Media and Statements

Glorification of Soviet Symbols of Occupation and Terror on Canadian Streets Must Be Condemned

May 9, 2019

TORONTO-  The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, condemns the repeated, hateful, glorification of Soviet symbols of terror and occupation in Canadian cities in connection to the Russian government’s Victory Day marches and rallies.

While the CEEC is thankful to all allied nations in their efforts to defeat Nazism and liberate much of Europe in 1945, including Canada, we cannot forget that Eastern and Central Europe would continue to suffer horrific repression under illegal Soviet occupation for another 50 years.

Millions of refugees from Central and Eastern Europe fled Soviet terror in the immediate post-WWII era, and settled in Canada where they helped contribute to the building of this nation, with shared values of freedom, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law.

The annual glorification of Soviet symbols in Canadian cities, including the flags of the nations occupied and terrorized by the Soviet Union, is a hateful, taunting, reminder to the millions of Canadians whose families suffered and fled Soviet occupation and repression, must be condemned by all Canadians, including city officials. Such disturbing celebrations of violent imperialism and targeted repression, have no place in Canada.

In 2018, such celebrations were marred with physical violence, when according to reports filed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Ottawa Police Service, a group of neo-Soviet demonstrators violently attacked a Canadian citizen for holding a Ukrainian flag at a Soviet Victory Day rally.

This year in Lisbon members of the Ukrainian community were attacked for standing alongside participants with placards informing the people of Portugal about the crimes of Stalin and Russia’s military aggression in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Such acts of anti-Ukrainian violence are unacceptable.

Founded by the Kremlin, these annual neo-Soviet rallies are believed to be financed from the Russian state budget. They seek to present Soviet totalitarianism in a positive light, whitewash the horrific crimes of Soviet-Communism and affirm the cult of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union’s victory in WWII. Since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine in 2014, these neo-Soviet Victory Day rallies and marches have been used in efforts  to undermine the sovereignty of Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia and other nations once held captive by the Soviet Union.

The CEEC calls on all Canadians and Canadian politicians to condemn the hateful display of Soviet symbols and the un-Canadian glorification of Soviet occupation and tyranny over the free nations of Central and Eastern Europe.

Victory Day PDF

New Canadian Sanctions Strongly Supported by CEEC

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, strongly supports the decision by the Canadian government and Canada’s Department of Global Affairs to apply economic and travel sanctions against 114 individuals and 15 entities in response to Russia’s aggression in the Black Sea and the Kerch Strait, the illegal annexation of Crimea, and the war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine for over 5 years.

24 Ukrainian sailors were taken prisoner and have been in captivity for 100 days, since Russian naval forces seized three Ukrainian ships in November 2018. The Russian government continues to help wage an illegal war in Eastern Ukraine and it’s illegal occupation of Crimea remains.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, said that: “Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait and its illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Crimea will not go unchecked. Alongside our international partners, we call on Russia to immediately release the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and return the seized vessels. Russia must allow free and unhindered passage through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. Today’s sanctions demonstrate that Canada and the international community are ready to impose costs on Russia when it ignores international law and the rules-based international order.”

Sanctions were also imposed on advisors and members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including the former head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin; CEO of the Kremlin controlled energy firm, Rosneft, Igor Sechin; billionaire Igor Rotenberg; and Viktor Zolotov, the head of The National Guard of Russia, a personal security force created to protect Vladimir Putin.

“The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada deeply appreciates the government’s  coordinated announcement about the application of targeted sanctions against those Russian government entities who are directly contributing to the Kremlin’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine and this region”, said CEEC President Marcus Kolga. “By joining the US and placing Viktor Yakunin and Igor Sechin on our sanctions list, Canada sends a strong message that it will not allow corrupt Russian kleptocrats to successfully use Canadian businesses or business groups to lobby on behalf of Kremlin aligned interests including keeping them off of sanctions lists.”

The Central and Eastern European Council represents the interests of 4 millions Canadians of Central and European heritage in Canada.

PDF VERSION HERE

Boris Nemtsov, House of Commons, February 2012. Photo: Marcus Kolga
Boris Nemtsov, House of Commons, February 2012. Photo: Marcus Kolga

Honouring Russian Human Rights and Opposition Leader, Boris Nemtsov, by Renaming Streets in Toronto and Ottawa

Toronto– The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of nearly 4 million  Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, calls on the Mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, and municipal councillors to rename streets after the late Russian pro-democracy opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov.

Boris Nemtsov visited Toronto and Ottawa in February 2012, to remind Canadians that an alternative free and democratic Russia was possible and that the Canadian government could help that cause by providing moral support for Russian pro-democracy activists.

His dedication and commitment to the principles of democracy and human rights, despite relentless efforts by the Putin regime to intimidate and repress him and his colleagues, inspired hope that one day, a peaceful Russia, free and democratic, would emerge as a reliable and trusted partner for Canada and other western nations.

Those hopes were dimmed to the faintest of flickers when Boris Nemtsov was violently assassinated just outside the walls of the Kremlin on February 27,  2015.

Boris Nemtsov followed in the tradition of other great Russian human rights advocates like Andrei Sakharov advocated fearlessly for change that would improve the lives of all Russians. Vladimir Kara-Murza, a close colleague and friend of Boris Nemtsov who has himself been poisoned twice, says that the action of renaming a street is a “symbolic but powerful way to show Putin his crimes will not be forgotten.”

Two international cities have already renamed streets in honour of Boris Nemtsov: Washington D.C. and Vilnius.

We call on the cities of Toronto and Ottawa to honour the cause of human rights and democracy by recognizing this great, fallen Russian hero who paid the ultimate price for his relentless advocacy for his people and cause.

Andris Ķesteris

President

Central and Eastern European Council

Latvian National Federation in Canada

Marcus Kolga

President

Estonian Central Council

Paul Grod

President

Ukrainian Canadian Congress

 

Joana Kuras

President Emeritus

Lithuanian-Canadian Community

Wladyslaw Lizon

President

Polish Canadian Congress

Sandor Balla

President

Hungarian Congress

 

 

Radmila Locher

President

Czech and Slovak Association in Toronto

Dr. Ruki Kondaj

Honorary President

Albanian Community in Canada

Milos Suchma

President

Czech and Slovak Association of Canada

 

 

PDF version of this statement

WALMART, AMAZON, E-BAY MUST END SALES OF ALL ITEMS THAT GLORIFY SOVIET REPRESSION AND TERROR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

Toronto– The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of nearly 4 million  Canadians of Central and Eastern Euopean heritage, demands that Walmart, Amazon and eBay, immediately cease all sales of items on their online stores that glorify The Soviet Union, Soviet repression, Josef Stalin and the institutions used to carry out Soviet genocide in nations occupied by the Soviet regime, including but not limited to the KGB.

Tens of millions of people were killed by the Soviet and Soviet backed communist regimes, while many more millions were deported, arrested, and permanently displaced as refugees.

Large numbers  came to Canada to seek safety in the 1940’s and 50’s, where nearly 4 million live today.

Companies such as Walmart, Amazon and eBay, should be ashamed to promote, and profit from, shirts and other merchandise that glorifies the Soviet regime and the genocide and terror in which it engaged.

Soviet T-Shirts being sold on Walmart as of September 10, 2018

The Central and Eastern European Council calls on all Canadians to boycott these retailers until they cease sales of all items that feature Soviet symbols of repression and hate.

We urge all provincial and municipal governments to ban these symbols from being displayed in public parks and venues.

Members of the Central and Eastern European Council can brief the executive and management of these retailers about the dark importance of this history to help ensure their understanding and empathy towards the millions of victims of communist crimes.

Screenshot of Amazon.com page after searching “soviet KGB”

PDF STATEMENT HERE

Contact ceecouncilcanada@gmail.com

Andris Kesteris
President
Central and Eastern European Council
Latvian Federation in CanadaMarcus Kolga
President
Estonian Central CouncilPaul Grod
President
Ukrainian Congress in Canada
Joana Kuras
President
Lithuanian-Canadian CommunityWladyslaw Lizon
President
Polish Canadian CongressSandor Balla
President
Hungarian Congress
Radmilla Locker
President
Czech Community in CanadaDr. Ruki Kondaj
President
Albanian Community in CanadaMarie Fuchs
President
Czech and Slovak Association of Canada

CEEC and CIJA Call on Canadian Government to Add Magnitsky Sanctions to Upcoming G7 Agenda

2018-03-22 Minister Freeland_Magnitsky Law

OTTAWA, Ontario
March 21, 2018
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, PC, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Freeland,

We are writing in response to reports that various parliamentarians are encouraging the Government of Canada to add the “Magnitsky Law” to the agenda of the upcoming G7 summit in Quebec, to encourage our allies who have not already done so to adopt similar legislation.

We strongly support this initiative, which comes in the wake of the unanimous passage of Canada’s own Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. There is a clear Canadian consensus that foreign nationals who have not been held accountable in their home countries for gross human rights violations should not be allowed to travel or hold assets in Canada with impunity. The fact that this law has already been used to sanction dozens of perpetrators demonstrates that it is a practical tool in ensuring Canada’s foreign policy reflects the high value Canadians place on respect for human rights.

While Britain and the United States have similar laws, France, Germany, Italy and Japan have no such legal measures to hold foreign nationals accountable. We applaud your work in making this law a reality in Canada, and encourage you to raise this issue with your counterparts at the upcoming G7 summit. Legislation like the Magnitsky Law sends an extremely powerful message to repressive, totalitarian regimes around the world that they cannot violate human rights with impunity.

Thank you for your consideration, and for all that you do to represent Canadians and our collective values in the international community.

Sincerely,

Shimon Koffler Fogel
CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)
Andris Ķesteris
Central and Eastern European Council of Canada, Latvian National Federation in Canada
Dr. Ruki Kondaj
Albanian Canadian Community Association of Toronto
Radmila Locher
Czech and Slovak Association of Canada
Sandor Balla
Canadian Hungarian Heritage Council
Marcus Kolga
Estonian Central Council
Joana Kuras
Lithuanian-Canadian Community
Teresa Berezowski
Canadian Polish Congress
Paul Grod
Ukrainian Canadian Congress

CEEC THANKS CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS FOR ADOPTING MAGNITSKY LEGISLATION UNANIMOUSLY

OCTOBER 17, 2017
OTTAWA-  The Central and Eastern European Council (CEEC), representing the interests of over 4 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, applauds and congratulates the members of the House of Commons  and Senate in passing Bill S226 unanimously. The Sergei Magnitsky Law will be an important human rights tool for the Canadian government, allowing it to freeze the Canadian assets of global human rights abusers and banning their entry into this country.

The CEEC thanks Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Trudeau for supporting this important legislation and Senator Raynell Andreychuk and MP James Bezan for introducing the bill in the Senate and House.

This legislation represents the culmination of nearly 7 years of work and advocacy, which was led in Canada by investor and activist, Bill Browder, former Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler and VP of the CEEC, Marcus Kolga.

“It’s a great relief that this legislation has finally passed both The House of Commons and Senate,” said CEEC President, Andris Kesteris. “Activists like Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered in 2015, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has twice survived poisoning, frequently asked Canada to adopt this legislation. We hope that it can now be applied to help diminish the effects of international criminal activity and reduce the targeting of individuals who are simply struggling for democracy and freedom.”

The non-partisan nature and unanimous passage of this legislation, sends a strong message to nations where human rights abuses occur. Canadians are united. We will not tolerate the presence of those who inflict suffering on others and profit from their misdeeds.

CEEC Letter on Canada’s NATO Contribution

LETTER PDF: CEEC-PMO-LETTER-NATO-Baltic

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau :
The Central and Eastern European Council represents 4 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage. All of these nations suffered under the tyranny of oppressive Communist regimes for nearly 70 years as they struggled to regain their freedom. Many of those nations that did reestablish their freedom and democracy quickly aligned themselves with Western and Canadian values, becoming reliable partners and friends of Canada in NATO and the European Union.
The CEEC would like to reiterate its strong support for Canada’s expanded participation in NATO defence activities in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in advance of the upcoming summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8 – 9 2016.
As Vladimir Putin continues to militarize the border regions of Western Russia with land and sea forces, strategic military infrastructure, and continued violation of NATO airspace, the CEEC strongly urges our government to maintain and strengthen its commitment to the defence of the Alliance’s vulnerable Eastern flank.
The CEEC believes that stability in Central and Eastern Europe is key to ensuring a secure and stable environment in Europe and in the Western world, including the Arctic.
We ask that Canada respond to NATO requests and commit to maintaining the troops it has in Poland, thus expanding its long-term military presence in the Baltic Sea Region and supplementing the new rapid reaction force with additional personnel, equipment and expertise.
With sincere regards,

Paul Grod
President
Ukrainian Canadian Congress

Joana Kuras
President
Lithuanian-Canadian Community

Teresa Berezowski
President
Canadian Polish Congress

Andris Kesteris
President
Latvian National Federation in Canada

Marcus Kolga
President
Estonian Central Council in Canada

Anna Szenthe
President
Canadian Hungarian Heritage Council
Marie Fuchs
President
Czech & Slovak Association of Canada

Ramazan Kellezi
President
Albanian Community in Canada

Contact us info [at] ceecouncil.org!