Alberta legislature to fly Ukrainian flag this week
Provincial government says it will fly the flag in solidarity with people of Ukraine
The Alberta government announced Sunday it will raise the the Ukrainian flag for the next week to show support and solidarity for the people in that country.
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Ukraine is currently embroiled in political and social unrest following a surprise reversal in November by then-president Viktor Yanukovich on a pro-European Union trade deal and pivot towards closer ties with Russia.
Yanukovich cracked down on protesters last month only to be deposed by the country's parliament before fleeing to Russia, which has invaded Ukraine's Crimea region amid international condemnation.
"The ongoing violence in Ukraine is front of mind for Albertans as we persist in our hope for a peaceful resolution," said Premier Alison Redford in a release. "We remain opposed to the escalating threats to Ukraine's democracy, freedom and safety of its people."
The majority of people in Crimea are ethnic Russians and the region held a referendum Sunday — which Canada and much of the West say they will not recognize — on whether to join Russia or stay as part of Ukraine.
The vote has been denounced by the acting Ukraine government and the West as illegitimate, but the head of the referendum committee in the region says more than 95 per cent of voters have approved of breaking from Ukraine to join Russia.
But opponents of Crimea's secession appeared to largely stay away from the vote, denouncing it as a cynical power play by Russia.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, president of the Alberta Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
"The raising of Ukraine's flag today is a clear sign of Alberta's reaffirmation of support for Ukraine's sovereignty, unity and the right of Ukraine to choose their own destiny without the interference, aggression and provocation of Russia."
In addition to a grant of $25,000 from the International Disaster Relief Fund, Alberta says it will match up to $100,000 in private donations made to either the Ukrainian Canadian Congress's Alberta Provincial Council or the Canada Ukraine Foundation.