Canada signals medical aid to Ukraine activists and condemns violence: Baird

By on February 19, 2014

john baird

Photo: Facebook Page of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird

OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will be providing further assistance to make medical care available for Ukrainian activists.

In a release condemning the violence that left at least 18 dead in street battles in Kyiv on Tuesday, Baird said a contribution will be made to a Ukrainian non-governmental organization.

A handful of anti-government protesters have taken shelter inside the Canadian embassy in Ukraine’s capital after riot police barged into a large opposition camp with stun grenades and water cannon.

Fewer than a dozen protesters sought refuge Tuesday in the reception area of the embassy in Kyiv to escape the violent crackdown.

Baird’s office says they are peaceful and have not caused any damage or harm to staff.

Canadian embassy workers are safe and accounted for, spokesman Adam Hodge said.

“We hope that the situation improves quickly so that they can safely leave the embassy premises at the earliest possible opportunity,” Hodge said in an email.

“We expect these individuals to be able to leave the embassy safely, free from intimidation, arrest or further harassment.”

Baird said the medical relief — up to $40,000 in addition to $21,000 provided last week — will ensure that treatment is provided to “the courageous activists injured while speaking out peacefully in support of democracy.”

It’s only one step in Canada’s involvement, he added.

“I will also be consulting our allies and like-minded nations to build a co-ordinated path forward in the coming days,” Baird said. “All options remain available, including through the deployment of targeted sanctions against those responsible.

“Canada unequivocally condemns the violence that has led to the deaths of scores of Ukrainians.”

The contribution will include medical supplies, first aid kits and training, his release stated.

Thousands of police officers broke down barricades on the edge of Kyiv’s Independence Square.

But they were repelled by 20,000 protesters armed with rocks, bats and fire bombs.

The protests began last November after President Viktor Yanukovych’s froze ties with the European Union in exchange for a $15-billion bailout from Russia.

— With files from The Associated Press