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?