Chrystia Freeland in Ukraine

March 7, 2014

ChrystiaFreeland_cropsquareIt has been an honour to spend a few days here in Kyiv to show Canada’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Kyiv is tired, sad, and worried – but it is also friendlier and prouder than it has ever been in the 33 years I have been visiting and sometimes working and studying in this city. The Ukrainian capital, and the country that follows its lead, is keeping calm and carrying on.

Seeing this revolution first-hand, I’ve been struck by the extent to which these protests have been about asserting human dignity in the face of what had been a corrupt, anti-democratic, and ultimately murderous regime. You can get a flavour of what I mean from a document called “The Ten Commandments of New Ukraine,” which is all the buzz at the moment and is meant to guide the behaviour of Ukrainians now that their uprising has succeeded. Its first instruction is “don’t pay or accept bribes”; others are to be tidy, help others, respect others, and to take personal responsibility.

I’ve been delighted to learn how significant Canada’s voice is here, and how grateful people are for our collective backing. The image of the Ukrainian flag flying over the House of Commons has been repeatedly broadcast on Ukrainian television. Vitaly Klitchko, an opposition leader and a leading candidate in the May presidential elections, thanked me for Canada’s support across party lines for measures like travel bans and sanctions against criminal Ukrainian officials. He said we had set an important precedent for our G-7 allies.

I have also heard a lot of praise for our brave and dedicated diplomats on the ground here. They are working extremely hard in tense and difficult circumstances and all of us should be grateful to them. (Our ambassador, Troy Lulashnyk, even found the time to meet me at the airport, which was very kind.) You are making us all proud! Thank you, merci, and diakuiu!

Chrystia Freeland

MP, Toronto Centre

Follow Chrystia on Twitter for updates on her fact-finding mission in Ukraine.

Freeland Maidan 2014

Chrystia laying flowers in Kyiv at renamed “Street of the Heavenly Hundred”, honouring those who died during protests.

Freeland Vitaly 2014

Chrystia with Vitaly Klitchko, Leader of Udar and candidate in upcoming presidential elections.