October 26, 2010-KYIV, Ukraine -Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an emotional visit to a controversial shrine Monday before meeting President Viktor Yanukovych to discuss, among other things, a slide in human rights since the February presidential election here.
Harper appeared to be fighting back tears after standing solemnly before the “sad memory of childhood” statue of a young, bone-thin girl.
Harper also laid a wreath at a Soviet-era “Park of Glory” that honours the heroes of the battle against the Nazis during the second world war, and was greeted by a Ukrainian honour guard that included soldiers wielding sabres with Cossack-style precision.
by Peter O’Neil-Europe Correspondent-Postmedia News
LVIV, Ukraine — Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived here in Ukraine’s nationalist heartland to denounce communism’s bloody legacy and declare the 1932-33 famine a Soviet-concocted genocide.
Harper didn’t use that term Monday in his meeting in Kyiv with President Viktor Yanukovych, who has sided with Moscow’s view that the millions who died due to dictator Joseph Stalin’s land policies weren’t targeted because of their nationality.
Harper also announced $36 million in aid, for projects to improve Ukraine’s customs service, job training, municipal economic development, regional governance, and juvenile justice reform.
He made his comment about genocide at a Catholic university that was warned earlier this year to not let students protest Yanukovych’s education minister, who has moved to remove references of the 2004 Orange Revolution from school textbooks.
Harper pushes freedoms, respect for national memory in Ukraine
October 25, 2010
by Jennifer Ditchburn-Canadian Press
KYIV, Ukraine – A bronze statue of an emaciated girl with haunting, hollow eyes became the touchstone for Stephen Harper’s trip to Ukraine this week.
Tight-faced, the prime minister placed a jar of grain Monday at the foot of the monument to one of the darkest moments in Ukrainian – and world – history, when millions perished in a deliberate campaign of starvation by the Soviets during the 1930s.
On any other trip, wreath-layings and other gestures at monuments are part of the routine for leaders.
But here, the issue of the Ukrainian genocide is one that says everything about whether the government leans West or toward Moscow.
Harper picked the hilltop site, and other stops with heavy political overtones, in a general message aimed at Ukraine’s new government about respect for freedoms and for the national memory.
It was also a message to the 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent that his Conservatives have the diaspora’s interests at heart. A reporter with a biweekly Ukrainian-Canadian weekly newspaper was given preferential access to one of Harper’s key events.
“Up to 10 million people, we’ll never know the numbers for sure, killed through the deliberate plans of their own government,” Harper said during a news conference.
Harper presses Ukraine over deteriorating human rights
October 25, 2010
by Peter O’Neil-Europe Correspondent, Postmedia News
KYIV, Ukraine – Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent both direct and more nuanced messages to Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych here Monday about the alarming decline of democratic freedoms since the February election.
Harper, both before and after a meeting with Yanukovych where rights issues were raised, made emotional visits to memorials marking ghastly atrocities committed by the blood-soaked 20th century’s most horrific despots – Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
The first was to honour victims of the 1932-33 Stalin-induced famine that left up to 10 million Ukrainians dead. It was called a genocide by the Canadian Parliament in 2008 although Moscow – and Moscow-friendly Yanukovych – continue to reject that charge.