Ukrainian group wants Buhler Industries' Russian directors investigated
The Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in Manitoba is calling on the federal government to freeze the assets of several Russian directors of Buhler Industries, a Winnipeg-based farm equipment manufacturer.
The Russian agricultural equipment giant Rostselmash Ltd. bought Buhler Industries in 2007 by acquiring 80 per cent of the company's common shares.
Given the ongoing conflict involving Ukraine and Russia, the Ukrainian-Canadian congress is raising concerns about three of Buhler Industries' directors.
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One of the directors is Konstantin Babkin, who is also known as the co-founder and leader of Russia's Action Party, a group known for its support of the Kremlin.
Two other company directors, Yury Ryazanov and Dmitry Udras, are members of the party as well.
Video from a rally in Moscow earlier this month shows Babkin applauding Putin's recent actions in Ukraine.
"We should not stop at Crimea," Babkin told the crowd in Russian about 8½ minutes into the video, referring to the region that was formally annexed by Russia on Friday.
- ON MOBILE? Watch the video here (Note: Video is in Russian)
Oksana Bondarchuk, who heads the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress's Manitoba chapter, told CBC News she wants the federal government to investigate whether any money from Buhler Industries is being used to finance Putin's agenda in Ukraine.
"We are especially asking the Canadian government to apply travel bans to these three individuals and to freeze their assets and determine whether their assets are being used in war-mongering and hate propaganda against Ukrainians," she said.
Bondarchuk said a letter outlining her concerns — and the link to the rally video — is being sent to all Manitoba MLAs and MPs, as well as to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As well, she said the congress has asked to speak with Buhler Industries' management, but no one has returned their calls.
Grant Adolf, Buhler Industries' chief operating officer, told CBC News he did not know the three directors were members of the Action Party, and he did not know about the rally where Babkin spoke.
Adolf declined to issue a statement on behalf of the company.