Mr. Speaker, last fall, former president Viktor Yanukovych decided to reject an agreement that would bring Ukraine closer to the European Union. Instead, he chose to strengthen ties with Russia.
Pro-European protests ensued. Since then, the protests have turned into a grassroots uprising against government corruption and totalitarianism. After the president fled, the heroine of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from custody. It is an initial gesture of openness, but the people of Ukraine will need to remain vigilant during the fragile lead-up to the next presidential election on May 25.
In the meantime, Canada must ensure that the international community prosecutes those who violate human rights and also that Ukraine is respectfully supported, without interference, during its future democratic steps towards what we hope will be renewed political, social and economic stability. The coming weeks will be critical as Ukraine moves towards holding free elections and restoring regional stability. Canada must offer intelligent support that is designed to protect the Ukrainian people and their democratic institutions.