NP-UN Western Bureau.
Canada’s Police Training Assistance Project for Ukraine is a very successful program and has helped transform that country’s Soviet militia system into a respected law enforcement agency, says one of the Members of Ukraine’s Parliament who was involved with police reform.
“Our police now are not taking bribes, and what has changed even more is the mentality among everyday people. In past people hated police now they support them,” Mustafa Nayyem said at a meeting of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional & Business Association of Edmonton (UCPBAE), held at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex, March 28.
Nayyem explained that when Ukraine began to reform its police system following the Revolution of Dignity, 30,000 members of the old militia were fired and replaced with new recruits.
The former militia was the most corrupt part of government and served to protect regimes, take money, repress business and violate human rights. During the Revolution, they brutally supressed demonstrators creating a lot of public pressure to remove them after the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukoyuch.
The model for reform was that initiated by the Czech Republic when it got rid of the Communist-era police, he said.
Canada’s $8.1 million program to support Ukraine’s police reform was announced by former Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion during the XXV Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians, in Regina, October 1, 2016.
“Canada stands strongly with the people of Ukraine. We are working closely with the National Police of Ukraine to transform Ukraine’s police service into an effective, accountable and community-focused institution that embodies public trust,” stated Minister Dion.
March 28 of this year, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk announced that Canada will double the number of its police experts in Ukraine.
Nayyem was responding to a question from New Pathway – Ukrainian News during the question and answer period of the meeting, which followed his presentation on the Go Camp initiative.
Among some of the other issues Nayyem addressed during the Q and A was that of Russia’s disinformation campaign urging members of the audience to check some of the information they are getting on the internet.
“From my perspective, I do not see any difference between Russian tanks on our streets and websites you are reading here in Edmonton. There is no difference because they are doing the same thing they are… lying. They are fighting against democracy… in Ukraine by tanks, in here by fake news,”
Asked about how people in Ukraine react to his ethnic background, Nayyem, who was born in Afghanistan, said that question of this ethnic origin never arises in Ukraine, only in the Diaspora.
“From my perspective Ukraine is the most diverse country in Europe and the most tolerant,” he said adding that far-right parties in Ukraine get very few votes, despite the country being in a state of war.
He compared Ukraine to France where far-right candidate Marine LePen was a runner-up in the Presidential election.
He also asserted that Ukraine is not a failed state as many would say. The country is still fighting the old system of corrupt oligarchs but a new nation is emerging.
Ukraine’s elites are still resisting change, but these elites no longer represent Ukraine.
“That is a part of Ukraine that is dying… So please believe in Ukraine, this is our future,” he said.