Madam Speaker, it is in the best interests of Canadians and of our country that we have a foreign policy that clearly understands that our best interests are served when we support democracy and when we support democracies especially that are at risk.
Tonight, literally as we speak here, a young democracy is at risk. A young democracy is being threatened. We have heard the words of our colleague. What has gone on in the last few days is documented. It is beyond dispute that democracy itself is at risk in Ukraine.
Tonight we need to raise our voices in this chamber and send a democratic shout that will be heard around the world and heard by the Ukrainian citizens so they will know that they are not alone tonight.
At 5:33 p.m. I received a report, one of the most recent ones, from Ukraine itself. I will reference some of the reports that have come in.
Madam Speaker, I want to indicate to you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Calgary East.
I do want to reference, not just the comment, but the fact that the member for Etobicoke Centre was in Ukraine and has just returned and that one of our colleagues in the Conservative Party, the member for Edmonton East, is still there. Together, in a non-partisan way with all of our colleagues in the House, we are speaking with one voice.
The following are excerpts from the latest reports. Just after 1900 hours, local time in Ukraine, several planes with Russian special military units landed at Boryspil International Airport near Kiev. It is also being reported now that 1,000 Russian special forces known as Vityaz were deployed in Kiev on the eve of the elections and are still there.
Also disturbing to hear, and this is directly from the report, that all members of the Russian special forces are dressed in Ukrainian uniforms and none of them have any identifying documentation on their uniforms.
It is being reported again as of 5:33 p.m. that a three-fold mission has been given to the Russian forces in collaboration with the forces in Ukraine who are thwarting the democratic will of Ukrainians. Apparently the three-fold mission, first, is that these forces should ensure the disappearance of the key opposition leaders; second, isolating, via arrests, several members of Viktor Yushchenko's team; and third, that these forces would provoke violent confrontations and conflicts in the streets of the capital to create conditions for introducing an emergency situation.
It has also been reported from the citizens living in Irpen city, which is outside of Kiev, that another unit of Russian Vityaz special forces are being deployed near the Ukrainian capital. These local residents have witnessed that Russian special forces are being equipped with Ukrainian special force uniforms as well as civilian dress. According to experts on the ground, these particular Russian forces specialize in carrying out special operations abroad.
It is a violation of the Ukrainian constitution for foreign forces to be on its soil without being invited by Parliament, and those forces have not been invited by their Parliament.
One member of Parliament in this report. Yulia Timoshenko, is reporting that foreign armed forces are now located in the courtyards of the presidential administration. Mr. Timoshenko has also witnessed Russian special forces backing Ukrainian police.
Today another Ukrainian MP and colonel of the secret service of Ukraine, Hryhoriy Omelchenko has demanded that the head of the SSU, the secret service of Ukraine, uncover all information on these foreign troops presently illegally in Ukraine. He goes on to say in this report, which we just received, “If this is not done, Ukraine and Russia will be involved in an international scandal with unpredictable international consequences”. This is a very serious moment. These are serious hours for the people of Ukraine.
It was in the early 1990s, just after the fall of the Soviet empire, that I had the opportunity and the honour to be in Kiev and to meet with newly elected officials of the city and new elected national officials. After Ukraine being under the iron fist and the boot of the Soviet Union for over 40 years, it was the first time I was able to meet with people who were duly elected in a democratic process.
It was a time of excitement and of optimism but yet the sense was very clear that the challenges would be daunting and that this would not be an easy task. There was a sense of exhilaration that at long last they were no longer under the suffocating effect of what had been known as the Soviet Union, a totalitarian Communist empire that had suffocated people for 70 years and had resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, imprisonment, loss of rights and on and on it goes.
History is very clear on how devastating a time that was for the Ukrainian people and then, about 10 years ago, they experienced for the first time the first results of a duly elected process. Those were exciting days. The dreams they had then are literally now at risk.
We have just heard very clear documentation of what has been going on in the last few days, in terms of a true coup of the freedoms, that the very foundations of an emerging democracy are at risk of being toppled as we speak.
We cannot be silent. The reports are telling us that this time, as Ukrainian citizens in Kiev see foreign uniforms and are faced with intimidation and violence, and we have heard some of the cases of that from the member for Etobicoke Centre, they are not running from the streets and into the countryside. This time they are standing in the streets and in the public squares and not just in Kiev but in other cities around the country, at risk of who knows what may befall them. They are standing and they are speaking.
Our colleague, the member for Edmonton East, called me from Kiev several hours ago. He had just spoken to a crowd of over 400,000 people in the public squares of Kiev, just as our colleague did yesterday. When he told those people that we in Canada knew what was going on and that we would not let them down, they cheered a mighty cheer.
The United States secretary of state said that his country was not accepting the results of this election. Other European countries are joining in that chorus. Our voice must also be clear.
The reason the Ukrainian people are standing their ground is that over the last 10 years they have tasted that sweet nectar of freedom. They have breathed the breezes of democracy and have heard the sounds of freedom of speech and this time they are not standing down. They are standing up and we in this House must stand up with them and let them know tonight that they do not stand alone. We stand with them.