The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is calling for police to investigate the vandalism of Edmonton’s Ukrainian National Federation Hall (UNF) as a possible hate crime.
On Friday, people involved with the UNF found swastikas spraypainted on the building itself as well as on a “Stop Putin, Stop War” banner hanging just next to the building.
Marco Levytsky, a spokesperson for the UNF in Edmonton, said someone got a photo of the suspect vandalizing the building but the vandal was wearing a hood. He said the image suggests it happened at about 3 a.m.
“It’s disgusting,” he said. “This is a hatred symbol.
“We’ll just have to clean it up.”
Levytsky said the UNF has been “spearheading and handling and organizing the welcoming committee for Ukrainian refugees coming into Edmonton,” and that hundreds have already arrived in the city since the military invasion began.
“We’re not going to be stopped,” he said, indicating he believes the vandal aimed to intimidate the organization. “(Ukrainains arriving in Edmonton) have been hearing that Nazi lie all the time, so they will not be surprised.”
“This is clearly an act aimed at intimidating the Ukrainian-Canadian community who have been standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians defending against Russia’s genocidal
war,” the UCC said in a statement issued Friday.
An Edmonton Police Service spokesperson told Global News it received a report about the vandalism seen at the central Edmonton building and is looking into it.
They said because it is still “very early in the investigation,” they could not comment further.
In its statement issued Friday, the UCC said ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began nearly three months ago, “there has been a sharp uptick in harassment, violence and intimidation against Ukrainian-Canadians across the country.”
“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’s Alberta Provincial Council, the president of the UCC’s Edmonton branch and the president of the Ukrainian National Federation. “These incidents have occurred across the country targeting Ukrainian community facilities and churches as well as private property.
“Given this increase in violence, we call on law enforcement agencies to work closely with the Ukrainian community to ensure the continued safety of people and property and the prosecution of the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”
Levytsky said while he does not know who may have been behind the vandalism, he is convinced it is the work of “someone who is obviously influenced by Russian propaganda.”
“(I believe) Russian propaganda’s behind this,” he said, noting Ukraine’s president is Jewish and was handed a landslide electoral win by Ukrainians.
Levytsky added that with ongoing actions being taken by Russia in Ukraine resulting in high numbers of civilian deaths, it disturbs him to see people helping Ukrainians fleeing the war being targeted by vandals.
George Yopyk is a treasurer with the UNF’s Edmonton branch and a former president of it.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It is very serious.
“I don’t understand why people do stuff like this.”
He noted that he does not believe the vandalism reflects badly on the city as Edmontonians as a whole have come together to help Ukrainians fleeing the violence.
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