The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is urging police to investigate the vandalism of Edmonton’s Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) Hall as a possible hate crime.
On Friday, people involved with the UNF found spray-painted swastikas on the building itself, as well as on a “Stop Putin, Stop War” banner hanging on the side of the building.
Marco Levytsky, a spokesman for UNF in Edmonton, said someone had gotten a photo of the suspect vandalizing the building, but the vandal was wearing a hood. He said the image suggests it happened around 3am.
“It’s disgusting,” he said. “This is a symbol of hate.
“We’re going to have to clean this up.”
Levytsky said the UNF is “leading, handling and organizing the welcoming committee for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Edmonton”, and that hundreds have already arrived in the city since the beginning of the military invasion.
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“We will not be stopped,” he said, indicating that he believed the vandal intended to intimidate the organization. “(Ukrainians coming to Edmonton) have been hearing this Nazi lie all along, so they won’t be surprised.”
“This is clearly an act intended to intimidate the Ukrainian-Canadian community who stood side by side with Ukrainians defending against Russia’s genocide.
war,” the UCC said in a statement released on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service told Global News that it has received a report about vandalism seen in the Edmonton central building and is investigating.
They said that because it’s still “too early in the investigation,” they couldn’t comment further.
In its statement released on Friday, the UCC said that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began nearly three months ago, “there has been a marked increase in harassment, violence and intimidation against Ukrainian-Canadians across the country.”
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“This latest vandalism comes on the heels of an April 20 arson attack on a Ukrainian Catholic priest and his family in Victoria,” reads the statement, which was signed by the President of the UCC Alberta Provincial Council, President of the UCC’s Edmonton Branch. . and the president of the Ukrainian National Federation. “These incidents took place across the country targeting Ukrainian community facilities and churches as well as private property.
“Given this increase in violence, we urge law enforcement agencies to work closely with the Ukrainian community to ensure the continued safety of people and property and the prosecution of perpetrators to the fullest extent of the 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 this,” he said, noting that Ukraine’s president is Jewish and received a landslide electoral victory from Ukrainians.
Levytsky added that with ongoing actions being taken by Russia in Ukraine resulting in a high number of civilian deaths, it disturbs him to see people helping Ukrainians fleeing the war targeted by vandals.
George Yopyk is treasurer of the Edmonton branch of UNF and its past president.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s very serious.
“I don’t understand why people do things like that.”
He noted that he does not believe the vandalism reflects poorly on the city, as Edmontonians as a whole have banded together to help Ukrainians flee the violence.
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