Alberta journalist charged with mischief in vandalism of controversial statue

Edmonton police have charged the editor of left-wing news outlet with mischief after a controversial statue of Ukrainian military commander was defaced in August 2021.

Duncan Kinney charged after Ukrainian military commander statue in Edmonton was defaced in 2021

This statue of Roman Shukhevych was vandalized last August with the words "Actual Nazi" painted in red letters. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Edmonton police have charged the editor of a left-wing Alberta news outlet with mischief after a controversial statue of a Ukrainian military commander was defaced last year.

Duncan Kinney, 39, was charged with mischief under $5,000 "in relation to an August 2021 incident that occurred at a Ukrainian complex in the area of 96th Street and 153rd Avenue," Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Carolin Maran told CBC News Tuesday night.

Kinney is expected to appear in court on Nov. 10.

Last August, the words "Actual Nazi" were written in red paint on the statue of Roman Shukhevych at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex.

During the same week, a memorial in St Michael's Cemetery near 138th Avenue and 82nd Street was also defaced, with the words "Nazi Monument 14th Waffen SS". 

Shukhevych's role in the military has fallen under increased scrutiny over his actions in leading the Ukrainian Insurgent Army during the Second World War and the deaths of tens of thousands of Belarusians, Jews, Poles and Ukrainians.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has called for the removal of the memorials, stating that they honour "Nazi collaborators and war criminals."

Kinney is the executive director of Progress Alberta and editor of The Progress Report.

The Progress Report is described on its website as "a media platform for reporting and analysis of Alberta's politics, social movements and media."

Duncan Kinney of Progress Alberta has been charged with mischief under $5,000. (CBC)

Kinney covered the vandalism incidents in an article posted on the Progress Report website

"It's unclear when this happened but pictures of both defaced monuments were sent to the Progress Report on Aug. 10, 2021," states the article by Kinney, which attributes the graffiti to "an unknown person or persons."

Kinney has not yet responded to a request for comment from CBC News.

Kinney has been involved in an ongoing dispute with Edmonton police after his media accreditation was revoked in March 2022. In an article about the issue, he wrote that EPS were attempting to silence the Progress Report, which features reporting from Kinney that is frequently critical of police. 

In June, he posted to Twitter saying he'd learned he was under criminal investigation by Edmonton police, but didn't know why.

In a public statement, four Ukrainian organizations said they were thankful for the police's work "investigating and making an arrest for the trespassing and defacing of our monument of Ukrainian military commander Roman Shukhevych."

The League of Ukrainian Canadians, League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Ukrainian Youth Association CYM and Ukrainian Youth Unity Council also stated, "we trust the trespassing and defacing of our property will result in a conviction with a just penalty."

In a statement Tuesday, the Edmonton branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress said it was pleased that an arrest was made.

"We thank the Edmonton Police Service for their thorough investigation of this matter and call on all law enforcement agencies to redouble their efforts to investigate and prosecute the spate of harassment and violence against Ukrainian Canadians since Russia's invasion of Ukraine," the congress said in a statement.

In a statement Tuesday, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association described the vandalism as a "hate-crime hoax" that stoked social discord and fear among Canadian Ukrainians.

"We believe all Canadians have the right to enjoy their property without being subjected to intimidation or threats," the statement said.