Marco Levytsky, NP-UN National Affairs Editor.
Canada and Ukraine will work together to battle Russian cyber attacks, says Arif Virani, Parkdale MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism).
“Both countries are facing elections next year. Obviously, the possibility of interference and cyber attacks and threats is present for both nations and one thing that is interesting that came up is this idea that Ukraine is a bit of a laboratory for interference, because of its proximity to Russia, the notion that Russian interference could be tested out here is very much alive and well from the perspective of Ukrainian parliamentarians. So, what that this underscores is this idea that it is important to support Ukraine… Canada, in supporting Ukraine, can prevent the same sort of cyber attacks that would be at issue here from manifesting in Canada itself. So, the entire Western world has a stake in ensuring that Ukraine elections are free and fair and free from cyber influence,” he told New Pathway – Ukrainian News in Kyiv, August 23.
That was one of the main topics Virani, who is one of the Vice Chairs of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group (CUPFG) discussed with members of the Ukraine-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group (UCPFG) at a breakfast meeting.
Participants included Iryna Heraschenko, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada; Hanna Hopko, Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada Foreign Affairs Committee; Ivan Krulko, Co-Chairman of the Ukraine-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group and Oleksandr Chernenko, Member of Parliament.
Virani arrived at Kyiv Boryspil Airport on August 22, where he was met by Major Mitch Atkinson, of Operation Unifier, and Rouslan Kats, Political Counsellor, Embassy of Canada.
Operation Unifier is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to support security forces in Ukraine. The operation’s focus is to assist them with security force training. This will help them improve and build their capability and capacity. The CAF coordinates its training with training by the U.S. and other countries that help in the same way.
That evening, Virani had dinner with Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk; Col. Brian Irwin, Canadian Defence Attaché; Lt.-Col. Fraser Auld, Commander, Op Unifier; Sargent-Major James Hebert, Chief Warrant Officer, Op Unifier and Kats.
Following his breakfast meeting with the UCPFG, Virani visited the Film.UA Studios, then had lunch with key leaders of the Crimean Tatar community including Refat Chubarov, Member of the Verkhovna Rada, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people; Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people; Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people; Elmira Ablyalimova, former director of the Bakhchysaray Khan’s Palace (and spouse of Chiygoz); Alim Aliev, Programming Director, Crimean Tatar Cultural Center – Crimean House and Rustem Skibin, Crimean Tatar artist, ceramist, founder of the El-Cheber artists’ studio.
“Their situation is really heart-wrenching… They’re being deprived of their basic civil rights and it is an injustice. And what was amazing was to see the strength of Mr. (Mustafa) Dzhemilev and other Tatar leaders but also learning more about it, because I will confess to you, people know a lot about Ukraine in Canada, but they don’t know about Crimea and they certainly don’t know much about the Tatar community,” he said.
Later that day, he met with alumni of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program and attended a dinner hosted by Stepan Poltorak, Minister of Defence of Ukraine
The next day, August 24, Virani watched Kyiv’s Independence Day Parade, met and Op Unifier troops participating in the parade, visited the World War II Museum, attended the Independence Day Reception hosted by Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine had an informal gathering with members of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, attended a reception hosted by Ambassador Waschuk with representatives of the Ukrainian cultural industries and closed off by attending the Okean Elzy concert with Ambassador Waschuk.
August 25 Virani visited the main sites of the Euro-Maidan Revolution of Dignity, where he laid flowers at the Memorial for the Heavenly Hundred. He then paid tribute to the victims of the Holodomor and had a guided visit of the Holodomor Museum.
Virani’s last stop in Kyiv that day was the National Historical and Cultural Reserve “Bykivnyanski Graves” where he laid flowers at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.