Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Canada and the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

"I note that as the family has currently no status in Canada and is not eligible for health care coverage and has no funds to pay for their treatment, therefore it may be a better option for Vladyslav Zadorozhnyi to return to Ukraine and receive treatment, where he has a status and the treatment is available to him."
Inland Enforcement Officer D. Sliwka, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada

"He was literally wailing, especially when he started to tell me about the persecution he experienced in Ukraine and his fear of being returned. In this case, he and his family are doomed. He has good reasons to expect that they will kill him."
"He needs support. I hope that he will be successful in seeking refugee status, which may give him some relief in terms of the very traumatic situation he was, and is, in."
Felix Yaroshevsky, psychiatrist

"[Mr. Zadorozhnyi was victim to a] swindle [in 2011, and an arson event in 2014 but the] allegation of a current conspiracy of criminals and government officials extorting him using a threat of death or harm to his family is not supported by credible evidence."
Immigration and Refugee Board Canada case worker
 Tyler Anderson / National Post
Tyler Anderson / National Post   Vladyslav Zadorozhnyi, 15, (left) with his younger brother Andriy Ryabinin (centre), 7, and mother Maryna Zadorozhna (right) in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Appealing to Canada for haven from political persecution and the danger of violence directed against them, the family of Andriy Ryabinin, step-father to Vladyslav Zadorozhnyi, 15, Maryna Zadorozhna, the boy's mother and wife of Mr. Ryabinin, and their 7-year-old son Andriy junior, were turned down, their application failing to convince the Border Services Agency that they were indeed in dire danger if they were to be returned to Ukraine.

The experience of this family in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkov, bordering Russia in East Ukraine, was rife with threats and danger, the family claiming that the 15-year-old was forced to cancel all his normal routines for danger of abduction and had to be driven by armed guard to attend school. The mother was harassed and warned of danger lurking behind them, and her husband felt himself in mortal danger.

Andriy Ryabinin, 45, owned a number of businesses in Kharkov; three clothing stores, two restaurants and the production of a magazine. Claiming extortion by gangsters and threats from corrupt police, they sought refugee status in Canada. Fears of kidnapping and violence caused such stress in the 15-year-old that he attempted suicide when the family was informed their claim had been rejected.

A deportation order had been issued, which led to Vladyslav Zadorozhnyi taking an overdose of prescription drugs. He was hospitalized until his heart normalized after a week, and lives in fear of being sent back to Ukraine. The Canada Border Services Agency refused to defer deportation on medical and compassionate grounds on the basis of "insufficient evidence" the family would suffer as they claimed: "undeserved or disproportionate hardship".

Canada is involved in the Russia-Ukraine dispute over Ukraine's sovereignty, in support of Ukraine against the bullying and threats that Russia represents, as it backs, arms and aids ethnic-Russian Ukrainians rebelling against being governed by Kyiv. Moscow's illegal seizure of the Crimean Peninsula, depriving Ukraine of its internationally-recognized, lawful territory, elicited sanctions against Russia.

It can be seen how this family's situation has been impacted by the conflict. But that Canadian authorities feel it to be appropriate to detain the family head in jail, as a flight risk, and that the rest of the family had also spent some time in jail cells for fear of their attempting to escape before being deported back to Ukraine, seems unwarranted.  The Public Safety Minister appears to have granted a stay of deportation for the family, in the interim.

Tellingly, Kharkov, despite its eastern Ukraine location bordering Russia, did not go the way of Luhansk and Donetsk which capitulated to the Ukrainian rebels and remain in their hands, bisecting Ukraine. Most Ukrainians living in Kharkov, whether or not they represent ethnic Russian stock or not, preferred to remain loyal to Ukraine, rejecting the rebels' call to join their violent separatist rebellion.

And the family of Vladyslav Zadorozhnyi was obviously caught up in this vortex of rival loyalties, making it feasible to imagine that they felt their Russian roots stirring to the refrain of Russian entitlement to Ukrainian heritage as their very own, since Russia always has felt that Ukraine was their very own.

A female newly graduate of the University of Military Air Forces marches in Kharkiv, Ukraine, during a graduation ceremony. Even as the region stays clear of the separatist war, the upheaval next door is forcing it to pivot westward. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

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