Ottawa - Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre) again raised the issue of human rights abuses in Russia on the floor of Canada's House of Commons in response to the New Year's Eve arrest of opposition leaders, and democratic and human activists:
HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATES
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2011
Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last August I introduced the opposition leader and former deputy prime minister of Russia, Boris Nemtsov, at a symposium hosted by the Central and Eastern European Council at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre.
Nemtsov and over 100 democracy activists were arrested, some imprisoned, using Soviet-era laws for participating "in unsanctioned gatherings". On New Year's Eve the campaign of intimidation was renewed when Nemtsov and 68 others were arrested after rallies calling for the democratization of Russia.
Last year Prime Minister Putin threatened the opposition and established a new tenet of Putinism stating: "...you will be beaten on your skull with a truncheon. And that's that".
Russia's leading exiled broadcast journalist, Evgeny Kiselev, lamented to me that the west has traded the Russian democratic opposition for oil and gas. As Russia slips into autocracy, the Canadian government and foreign affairs minister remain silent.
Will Canada finally send a clear message to Russia that its continued membership in the G8 is dependent on its respect for democracy and human rights?
Boris Nemtsov, leader of the democratic opposition movement Solidarity and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister from 1997-1998, was sentenced to 15 days in jail under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code ("disobeying police") in early January 2011. Sentences were also handed out to other opposition leaders and activists who participated in the rally on Triumfalnaya Square, such as: Ilya Yashin of Solidarity (5 days), Kirill Manulin of Another Russia (8 days), Konstantin Kosyakin of Left Front (10 days), and Eduard Limonov of Another Russia (15 days).
"This is the second time I have had to raise the issue of Russia's slide into autocracy on the floor of Canada's House of Commons. I was hopeful that the international outcry following the arrest of opposition leaders and activists back in September 2010 would have been enough to sway Russian authorities from trampling on the right of assembly afforded by the Russian constitution," stated Wrzesnewskyj.
Wrzesnewskyj renewed his call on the Canadian Government and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to send a clear message to Russian authorities that the campaign of intimidation, arrest and imprisonment of human and democratic rights activists cannot continue. The Russian people's constitutional right to democratic assembly must be guaranteed.
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For further information: Borys Wrzesnewskyj, M.P. (613) 947-5000
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.
Member, Federal Political Council
Russian United Democratic Movement "SOLIDARITY"
Canadian M.P. calls on Russia to respect democratic and human rights