Manitoba giving $25K for Ukraine humanitarian aid
The Manitoba government is giving $25,000 for humanitarian assistance, including first aid and medical supplies, to help those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Premier Greg Selinger announced the funding on Sunday morning, as he prepared to attend a special prayer service for those who have died amid violent anti-government protests.
"Manitobans stand in solidarity with our friends in Ukraine against the violence of this past week," Selinger stated in a news release.
Selinger joined close to 400 people at the afternoon service, organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Manitoba Provincial Council, at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Watt Street.
The names of 80 people who have been killed in the conflict were read aloud, as people lit candles and prayed.
The church's main level, basement and second floor were packed with people hearing the service, including members of Winnipeg's Ukrainian community and others.
"It's outrageous. Like, Ukrainian people to kill their own … it's sad," said Mihai Rosoha, who is not from Ukraine but is worried about the escalating violence there.
On Sunday, Ukrainian legislators voted to temporarily hand over duties of president to the newly elected parliament speaker, who is taking over from Viktor Yanukovych.
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Waves of protests were set off when Yanukovich decided to spurn political and trade deals with the European Union and rebuild economic ties with Russia instead.
The protesters quickly expanded their grievances to corruption, human rights abuses and called for Yanukovych's resignation.
Anger boiled over last week after government snipers killed scores of protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.
Ukraine's acting government issued an arrest warrant on Monday for Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters.
Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine.
'Absolute anarchy' in Ukraine
Ukrainians living in Winnipeg say it has been gut-wrenching to watch protesters — and even bystanders — being killed by snipers.
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"The scenario there is absolute anarchy, and the people are going to stand their ground. They've suffered long enough," said Oksana Bondarchuk, president of the Canadian congress's Manitoba council.
Bondarchuk said she doesn't think the violence will end anytime soon because people are willing to die for freedom.
"They have no faith whatsoever in the words of Yanukovych and they want him out," she said.
"They've lost so many lives that at this point, they have nothing to lose."
Manitobans can show their solidarity with the protesters with prayer, said Bondarchuk, who added that the congress is also seeking donations for humanitarian aid.
With files from The Associated Press