Central and Eastern European Council in Canada

Media and Statements

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

An overview of Russian ground-force equipment in Yelnya, Russia, on November 9, 2021. Photo: RFE/RL
An overview of Russian ground-force equipment in Yelnya, Russia, on November 9, 2021. Photo: RFE/RL

CEEC Calls On Canada To Adopt Measures To Deter Kremlin Aggression Against Ukraine

TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC) is deeply concerned by the Russian Federation’s dramatic troop buildup and military escalation along its borders with Ukraine and the Belarusian border in northern Ukraine.

The CEEC calls on the Canadian government to work with our NATO allies and adopt greater measures to impose costs on the Russian government’s hybrid warfare and deter its neo-imperialist ambitions. 

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. Crimea and parts of the eastern Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk remain under illegal Russian occupation. 

Vladimir Putin has now amassed over 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders which may soon be ordered to invade further into Ukraine in the coming weeks or months. 

The 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage stand with the Ukrainian people and their nation’s aspiration to become a modern European democracy. We strongly urge the Canadian government, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Defence, to suggest and adopt measures to deter the threat of Russian warfare against Ukraine and against NATO’s eastern member states. We suggest the following measures: 

  1. Immediately renew and increase Canadian and allied military training missions to Ukraine and provide surplus Canadian defensive weapons systems, including naval defence, anti-tank and anti-artillery systems. Canada should increase its commitment to the NATO EFP in Latvia as well.
  2. Apply pressure on Germany to cancel the Nord Stream II pipeline immediately. The completion of this pipeline would allow Russia to use natural gas supplies as leverage against Canada’s European allies and a weapon against Ukraine and other NATO allied nations in Eastern Europe.
  3. Increase sectoral economic sanctions on Russia and apply sanctions on the Russian oligarchs who enable the Putin regime, specifically those with significant assets and interests in Canada. Those oligarchs that have been identified by Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny should be prioritized.

Finally, Canadian officials must realize that Vladimir Putin’s objective is not greater cooperation or making deals with Canada or any of our allies. Putin’s aim is to assert complete control over his people and the world around him through repression, corruption, intimidation, and violence. Since coming to power in 2000, Putin has demonstrated that compromise only emboldens him and encourages further aggressive behaviour. 

A strong Canadian voice, presence and deterrence, will help protect vulnerable democracies in Eastern Europe and stop the march of Putin’s neo-imperialist authoritarianism in Europe and beyond.  


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

Statement on Kremlin-Supported Efforts By Belarus to Destabilize Border with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania

The Central and East European Council in Canada voices deep concern regarding recent provocations manufactured by the Lukashenka Regime in Belarus – with the vocal support of the Russian Federation – along Belarus’ border with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. 

In recent months, the Belarusian security forces have been deliberately facilitating and profiting from the illegal smuggling of refugee claimants through its own country in a deliberate attempt to force their illegal entry into the European Union via Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. This effort is widely acknowledged as a political response to the support that the Belarusian opposition has received from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the European Union as they continue to go up against the regime’s election fraud perpetrated in the aftermath of the 2020 Belarusian Presidential election and support free Belarusian civil society leaders, activists and journalists. 

We condemn the Lukashenka regime’s escalating abuse of human rights and stand in solidarity with our NATO allies as they face this unprecedented provocation. We also take this opportunity to remind the Government of Canada that this effort is part of a broader plan by the Putin and Lukashenka regimes to destabilize NATO and the European Union. We must remember that similar provocations led to the Russian occupation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and we, therefore, urge our government to stand resolutely with the European Union in opposing this latest act of aggression by the Lukashenka regime.

“We urge the Canadian government to condemn Belarus’ exploitation and weaponization of innocent migrants, and to support our allies should they invoke NATO Article 4 consultations to address the threat against the integrity of NATO’s borders,” said CEEC President, Marcus Kolga.

Canada currently leads NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission in Latvia and Operation Unifier in Ukraine.

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

We issue this statement in coordination with our partners the Central and East European

Coalition in the United States.

The U.S.-Germany Nord Stream 2 Joint Statement Raises Concerns

Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. Source: Nord Stream 2

Serving on behalf of 25 million Canadians and Americans of Central and East European heritage, The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada and the U.S.-based Central and East European Coalition express serious concern regarding the Joint Statement of the United States and Germany on Support for Ukraine, European Energy Security, and Our Climate Goals, which addresses the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. If the pipeline is completed, the Russian Federation will use this coercive tool to advance its geopolitical goals and influence in Europe. The statement does not specify what action would be taken by Germany should the Kremlin weaponize its energy sector against Ukraine and the rest of Europe. We believe that this agreement with its ambiguous language and objectives is inadequate in addressing the threat posed by the Kremlin’s aggressive behaviour and violates our commitments from the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.


To demonstrate that the Biden and Trudeau administrations value the relationships with our European allies, their policies should clearly reflect their intent to jointly counter the hostile behaviour of the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, the Joint Statement does little to address the threats that Nord Stream 2 poses to the energy security of Central and Eastern Europe. We assert that the relationships that Canada and the U.S. maintain with many of the countries in this region, whose diaspora communities our organizations represent, may be harmed because of this arrangement. In order to resolutely counter Russia’s belligerent influence in Europe, we urge the U.S. and Canada to work with our European allies to develop and adopt a concrete and comprehensive plan of response.

The language in the Joint Statement and its potential implications only intensify our trepidation. The Biden and Trudeau administrations must continue implementing sanctions and encourage our allies in Europe to enact similar measures, to prevent the finalization and use of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. On the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 23, 1939, we call on our respective administrations to honour the history of our partners in Central and Eastern Europe by denouncing the completion and use of this political pipeline.

Canadians of Central and Eastern European Heritage Stand With the People of Belarus on Freedom Day

March 25, 2021

TORONTO – The CEE Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European Heritage stands with the people of Belarus on the nation’s March 25 Freedom Day, and urges Canada to expand Magnitsky sanctions against the illegitimate and repressive regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The people of Belarus and Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage have been calling for fair elections, freedom and human rights for the past eight months where thousands of Belarusians have been violently arrested, beaten and detained. We call on the Canadian government to monitor upcoming protests and to hold regime officials who engage in human rights abuses to account.

The CEEC thanks the Government of Canada for pledging $2.25 million to support the development of Belarusian civil society organizations and independent media, earlier this year.

The CEEC calls on the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada, to work with the U.S. and other international partners to facilitate a mediation and negotiation process led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations. 

According to The Belarusian Canadian Alliance and Belarusian opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, 32,000 Belarusians have been detained, 2,500 criminal cases have been initiated, 1,000 cases of torture have been documented by human rights NGOs, and 290 people are currently being held as political prisoners. At least eight protesters have been killed, and no government officials have been held accountable for the violence.

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CEEC Condemns the Arrest of Vladimir Kara-Murza and Russian Activists in Moscow

March 14, 2021

TORONTO – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, condemns the arrest of Russian pro-democracy and human rights activist Vladimir Kara-Murza and over 200 of his colleagues in Moscow today.

Vladimir Kara-Murza has twice been targeted for assassination by the FSB for his activism. A recent report by Bellingcat exposed the Russian government’s involvement through the same FSB assassination team, that poisoned Alexey Navalny in August 2020. Vladimir Kara-Murza has testified in Canada’s Parliament about the human rights situation in Russia on numerous occasions and screened his documentary film about his colleague and friend, assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

The government of Canada must reverse its failure to join our allies in applying Magnitsky sanctions on Russian officials responsible for the poisoning of Navalny. By failing to apply sanctions, Canada implicitly enables human rights abuse and political repression by regimes like that of Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin’s actions are not limited to the repression of Russian activists. The Globe and Mail reported that Putin associate and oligarch, Yevgeni Prigozhin has used his Internet Research Agency – the same group responsible for interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections-  to target issues of Canadian national interest. Prigozhin is on the UK, US, EU sanctions lists and the FBI most wanted list, but not on Canada’s sanction list. Russian state media and Putin aligned oligarchs and proxies have actively sought to discredit and intimidate critics of the Kremlin in Canada over the past years.

The CEEC reiterates its calls on the Canadian government to join our allies to place Magnitsky sanctions on members of the Putin regime who are responsible for the poisoning of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny in August 2020, his incarceration on January 18, 2021 and the detention and poisoning of Vladimir Kara-Murza.

“Canada is a nation that believes in the need to defend global human rights, which is why we led among our allies in adopting the Sergei Magnitsky Law in 2017,” said CEEC President Marcus Kolga. “By failing to use it to protect activists like Vladimir Kara-Murza and Alexey Navalny, we fail them, our allies and our sacred commitment to defending human rights.”

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Arena Riga. Photo: IIHF
Arena Riga. Photo: IIHF

Central and Eastern European Council in Canada Supports IIHF Decision to Move World Hockey Championships from Belarus

TORONTO – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, supports the IIHF’s decision to move the 2021 World Hockey Championship tournament away from Belarus.

The CEEC condemns the ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Belarus and the mass electoral fraud committed by the Lukashenka regime in August 2020. 

Over the past 6 months, thousands of brave Belarusian protestors have been detained, many viciously beaten, tortured and even killed. 

Regimes that engage in widespread human rights abuses should never be legitimized or their behavior normalized by being allowed to host important international sporting events like the IIHF world championships. 

“As a nation that supports international human rights and holds the sport of hockey as an important part of our national identity, the 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage applaud the IIHF and Hockey Canada, for putting human rights first,” said CEEC President Marcus Kolga.

The CEEC urges the Government of Canada to: 

  • Continue calling out and hold the Lukashenka regime to account for its mass repression of protestors, opposition leaders and media;
  • Work with our allies to apply coordinated Magnitsky sanctions against corrupt Belarusian officials who have abused the rights of their people beginning with Lidia Yarmoshyna, the head of Belarus’ Central Election Commission;
  • Work with our allies to support Belarusians and civil society groups who seek change, freedom and democracy for their people.
Protests in Russia, January 23, 2021.
Protests in Russia, January 23, 2021.

CEEC Condemns Kremlin’s Violent Crackdown on Peaceful Protestors in Russia

TORONTO – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, strongly condemns the violent widespread crackdown on peaceful protests in Russia, during which thousands of protestors have been detained.

The CEEC welcomes the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau’s condemnation of Alexey Navalny’s arrest and the expression of concern published by Global Affairs Canada about the safety of Russian protestors, however, Canada must start taking concrete action to defend global human rights and hold the abusers to account.

The nearly 200,000 Russian people who bravely took to streets across Russia, despite freezing temperatures, and the threat of arrest and violence, deserve a free, democratically elected government and an end to the corrupt Putin regime. 

The CEEC calls on the Canadian government to coordinate sanctions against members of the Putin regime who are responsible for the poisoning of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny in August 2020, and his incarceration on January 18, 2021. 

We encourage the Canadian government to help lead the creation of a coalition of liberal western democracies along with our allies and the Biden administration to support those who courageously advocate for human rights and hold to account those who violate  human  rights.

“The Canadian government adopted the Sergei Magnitsky Law in 2018, which allows us to hold officials who engage in human rights abuse and corruption to account by placing sanctions on them,” said CEEC president Marcus Kolga. “This includes the corrupt oligarchs supporting the Putin regime,  that Alexey Navalny has asked Western leaders to include on their Magnitsky sanctions lists.

CEEC Thanks The Canadian Government for Supporting Belarusian Civil Society

September 24, 2020 

TORONTO – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, would like to thank the Government of Canada and Ministers Champagne and Gould for their commitment to support Belarusian civil society and independent media with $600,000 in funding.

The CEEC applauds Minister Champagne’s strong statement condemning the illegitimate inauguration of Aleksander Lukashenka, who proclaimed himself President of Belarus after a fraudulent election in August and has engaged in six weeks of brutal violence against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. 

The CEEC reiterates its call for the Lukashenka regime to step aside after 26 years and finally give the Belarusian people the opportunity to grow and prosper in a democratic society free of repression, corruption and fear.

Thousands of brace Belarusian protestors have been detained, many viciously beaten and at least one protester has been killed. Riot police using water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades have been used to suppress protestors in at least a dozen Belarusian cities.

“The Central and Eastern European communities in Canada stand with all Belarusian Canadians and the people of Belarus in their struggle for freedom and democracy,” said CEEC President, Marcus Kolga. “We are thankful that Canada is working with our allies to hold Lukashenka and his officials to account for their abuse of human rights, and hope that sanctions will soon be applied to the regime and those carrying out violent repression on its behalf.”

Central and Eastern European Communities in Canada Condemn Violent Crackdown in Belarus

TORONTO – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage, strongly condemns the violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Belarus and the mass electoral fraud committed by the Lukashenka regime.

The CEEC calls on the Lukashenka regime to step aside after 26 years and finally give the Belarusian people the opportunity to grow and prosper in a democratic society free of repression, corruption and fear.

Thousands of brave Belarusian protestors have been detained, many viciously beaten and at least one protester has been killed. Riot police using water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades have been deployed to suppress protestors in at least a dozen Belarusian cities.

“The Central and Eastern European communities in Canada stand with all Belarusian Canadians and the people of Belarus in their struggle for freedom and democracy,” said CEEC President, Marcus Kolga. “Canada must work with our allies to hold Lukashenka and his officials to account for their abuse of human rights and mass corruption.”

The CEEC urges the Government of Canada to: 

  • Call out and hold the Lukashenka regime to account for its mass repression of protestors, opposition leaders and media;
  • Work with our allies to apply coordinated Magnitsky sanctions against corrupt Belarusian officials who have abused the rights of their people beginning with Lidia Yarmoshyna, the head of Belarus’ Central Election Commission;
  • Work with our allies to support Belarusians and civil society groups who seek change, freedom and democracy for their people. 

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