Will the Magnitsky Act be applied to support #FreeSentsov campaign?

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On June 3, 2018, in Munich on Marien Platz, the central square of the Bavarian capital, an action was held in support of the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov (Wavepainter/Wikimedia Commons)

It comes down to the Parliament of Canada

On September 4, 2018, second-generation Ukrainian Canadian theatre actress, Lianna Makuch, with a sponsorship of the NDP MP Linda Duncan, initiated an e-petition to the Government of Canada, calling upon the House of Commons to demand the release of Ukrainian political prisoners detained in Russia and to employ sanctions against Russian authorities responsible for their imprisonment.

According to the petition, the Canadian Government has taken no actions against the Russian Government which is accountable for illegal custody of more than 60 Ukrainian political prisoners, including “brutal ill-treatment of three Ukrainian hunger strikers (Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Shumko and Volodymyr Balukh).” This negligence contradicts an outstanding Canadian commitment to stand globally for human rights, despite that it has been a year since the Magnitsky Act was adopted. It allows for restrictive measures to be taken against “foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

“The Magnitsky Act has not been invoked to sanction Russian officials responsible for the violation of the human rights of these Ukrainian citizens.”

The e-petition 1825 (Russia) is open for signature until January 2, 2019. As usual, it needs to get more than 500 signatures in order to make it obligatory for the government to respond. In one day only, it collected 65 signatures, with the majority of them, 47, gathered in Alberta.

Meantime, on July 28, 2018, Global Affairs Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada issued a statement calling on Russia to free “all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, including Oleg Sentsov.” Some Canadian officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and parliamentarians, in particular, the Conservative MP James Bezan, have been involved in Twitter diplomacy, regarding Sentsov’s hunger strike. The recent tweets came out on August 21, 2018, marking 100 days of his protest against Ukrainian political prisoners’ confinement in Russia. In turn, the Russian Embassy in Canada, by means of the same social network, identified such demands of “immediate release” as “blatant interference in [Russia’s] domestic affairs.”

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