Standing Committee Release

Ukraine”s Euro-Atlantic Future:
International Forum VI

March 7-8, 2012
Ottawa, Canada

Eastern European Democracies at the Tipping Point:
Determining Canada”s Future Role

Ottawa, Canada – March 2, 2012 – The Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development will be holding hearings on 5 and 7 March 2012 and begin a study on “the progress of rights and democracy over the past 10 years” in Ukraine. This issue is a pressing one as politicians continue to be tried and jailed in politically motivated legal cases prosecuted in questionable judicial proceedings. On February 28, Yuri Lutsenko, the former Minister of the Interior and opposition leader, was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Lutsenko joins former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven year term.

Given these and other disturbing developments, it is important that Canada and fellow members of the democratic international community continue to play an active role in monitoring, documenting and drawing attention to human rights abuses in Ukraine,” said Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Ukrainian officials who violate the rule of law and suppress civil liberties need to be held accountable not only by the citizens of Ukraine, but by the entire Euro-Atlantic community. That is why the Congress will be asking Canada to send a substantial complement of long, medium and short term observers to the critical Ukrainian parliamentary elections in October, and to be prepared to consider other options if changing circumstances warrant it.”

The worrisome erosion of democratic reforms will jeopardize the Ukrainian government”s stated objectives of integrating into the European Union and seeking closer ties with the Euro-Atlantic community. Canada has long had a special relationship with Ukraine, largely due to the 1.2 million Canadians who have Ukrainian roots, including some 50,000 new immigrants who have arrived within the last two decades.

Experts on the current situation in Ukraine, from Kyiv, Washington, D.C., London, Warsaw, and Moscow, will appear before the Standing Committee. Committee members will not only have the opportunity to question representatives of Ukrainian human rights organizations, but also prominent Ukrainian politicians who have held senior cabinet positions, a Ukrainian journalist and the former chief of staff of a presidential administration.

Among the others giving expert testimony are James Sherr, of the Royal Society of International Affairs and a long-time adviser to the British government, EU and NATO on Russian and Ukrainian affairs; Hon. Marcin Swiecicki, a member of the Polish Sejm and a former cabinet minister who for four years was the director of the European Council”s Advisory Centre in Kyiv; and Andrei Piontkovsky, a well-known political analyst, journalist and member of the Federal Council of Russia.

All of the speakers will subsequently be taking part in a major international conference, Ukraine at the Crossroads,” at Ottawa”s Chateau Laurier Hotel on 7-8 March. This unprecedented gathering of leading specialists on contemporary Ukraine will examine such issues as the state of the democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech; the coming parliamentary elections and controversial constitutional changes; the rule of law, energy politics and the investment climate. The escalating tug-of-war between Europe and Russia over Ukraine”s geopolitical orientation, which has potential long-term implications for regional stability, will be an important topic for consideration by the experts, as will discussions on how best to engage the Ukrainian government and society on resisting the urge to revert back to an authoritarian model of development.

For more details about the hearing speakers, see the following.

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

House of Commons, March 5 & 7, 2012

Study on “the progress of rights and democracy over the past 10 years” in Ukraine

Monday 5 March 3:30-5:30 PM

“The progress of rights and democracy over the past 10 years and its implications for rule of law and the parliamentary elections in Ukraine.”

Halyna Coynash, Kharkiv

Halyna Coynash, representative of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) in Kharkiv, Ukraine, one of the oldest, most active and respected Ukrainian human rights organizations, worked with many other human rights groups in Ukraine, including Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, writes for the journal Telekritika.

Alyona Hetmanchuk, Kyiv

Alyona Hetmanchuk, Director Institute of World Policy, is an experienced journalist, media and NGO manager and foreign policy analyst, awarded by the past President of Ukraine the designation Honoured Journalist of Ukraine.

Oleh Rybachuk, Kyiv

Oleh Rybachuk, Chairman and co-founder of the NGO Centre UA”, former chief of staff to President Viktor Yushchenko and former Deputy Prime Minister in Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko”s government, former National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) director of international relations.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012, 3:30-5:30 PM

“The progress of rights and democracy over the past 10 years and its implication for Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.” The following witnesses will present analysis of the above proposition from the perspective of:

Ukrainian opposition in parliament
Borys Tarasyuk, Kyiv

Borys Tarasyuk, Member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Chairman Verkhovna Rada Committee on Euro-Atlantic Integration, founder Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

EU and Polish government
Marcin Swiecicki, Warsaw

Marcin Swiecicki, Member of Polish Parliament; former Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Poland; past Director of EC/UNDP Blue Ribbon Analytical and Advisory Centre, Kyiv; former Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities at the OSCE, Vienna; former Mayor, City of Warsaw.

Russian government
James Sherr, London

James Sherr, Royal Society of International Affairs, Senior Fellow Russia and Eurasia Programme Chatham House, London, lecturer in International Relations at Lincoln College, Oxford, consultant to NATO and the EU on Ukraine.

Russian democratic movement
Andrei Piontkovsky, Moscow

Andrei Piontkovsky, political analyst, journalist, candidate of physical-mathematical sciences, senior researcher Institute of System Analysis Russian Academy of Sciences, member American Mathematical Association, member Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko”, member Federal Council of Russia.

Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Development


  • Dean Allison, M.P. – Conservative – Niagara West-Glanbrook – Ontario


  • Hélène Laverdière, M.P. – NDP – Laurier-Sainte-Marie – Quebec
  • The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., M.P. – Liberal – Beauséjour – New Brunswick


  • Lois Brown, M.P. – Conservative – Newmarket-Aurora – Ontario
  • Bob Dechert, M.P. – Conservative – Mississauga-Erindale – Ontario
  • Nina Grewal, M.P. – Conservative – Fleetwood-Port Kells – British Columbia
  • Sadia Groguhé, M.P. – NDP – Saint-Laurent – Quebec
  • Jean-François Larose, M.P. – NDP – Repentigny – Quebec
  • Gary Ralph Schellenberger, M.P. – Conservative – Perth-Wellington – Ontario
  • Jinny Jogindera Sims, M.P. – NDP – Newton-North Delta – British Columbia
  • Dave Van Kesteren, M.P. – Conservative – Chatham-Kent-Essex – Ontario
  • John Williamson, M.P. – Conservative – New Brunswick Southwest

To arrange interviews with speakers at the Parliamentary hearings and the Ukraine at the Crossroads Conference, contact:

Media Contact:

  • Name: Lubomyr Kwasnycia
  • Telephone: +1 416-561-7778
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