Senior officials from troubled Ukraine to be barred from Canada: minister

OTTAWA – Senior Ukrainian officials will be barred from Canada as a response to the continuing crackdown on protests in that country, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Tuesday.

“We will restrict entry to Canada for key Ukrainian government officials that have been responsible for the repression and silencing of opposition voices,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it’s a symbolic effort, but sends a disapproving message to the government in Ukraine.

Baird says tougher measures could come if the Ukrainian government fails to respond to popular demands for freedom and democracy.

“We’ll see just how things evolve,” he said. “If further action is necessary, we are prepared to take that action.”

There have been some encouraging moves in Ukraine, including the resignation of the prime minister and the repeal of anti-protest laws that sparked violent clashes between protesters and police.

“Even though we’re encouraged by recent developments in the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian government must accede to the fundamental demands of its people particularly with respect to accountability and the principles of democracy,” Baird said.

Alexander said Canada condemns the killing of protesters.

“The actions by members of Ukraine’s ruling elite in the face of popular and growing protests have been utterly deplorable.”

Baird warned against a return to past tyranny.

“The backward slide to Soviet-style repression and intimidation is not acceptable.”