Ottawa also blacklisted Russian museums and education ministries to “protect” Ukrainian culture
The Canadian government added former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and his son Aleksandr to its sanctions list on Saturday, accusing them of being connected to the “theft” of Ukrainian cultural objects and Kremlin’s alleged efforts to “Russify” Ukrainian culture.
In addition to Yanukovich, the list of sanctioned individuals includes culture minister of the Kherson region, Alexander Kuzmenko, and former deputy information minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Daniil Bezsonov, and Ukrainian blogger Yury Podolyaka, among others.
Among the blacklisted entities are the culture ministries of Crimea and the Kherson Region, the education and science ministries of the Zaporozhye and Kherson, and multiple museums and media outlets.
“The list of individuals being sanctioned includes Ukrainians who work at museums and other cultural centers who collaborate with Russia. It also includes newly created entities in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, such as the so-called ministries of education and culture,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Saturday.
Most of those hit with personal sanctions by the US, EU and their allies, are Russian citizens – military commanders, politicians and businessmen, including family members – deemed to be close to the Kremlin. However, Ukrainian nationals serving in government positions, healthcare and education in territories that joined Russia are also increasingly being targeted.
“As Russia tries to forcefully impose its culture and education on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, these sanctions will impose further costs on so-called authorities in areas of Ukraine illegally occupied by Russian forces in order to protect Ukrainian culture and identity,” Ottawa added.
The Crimean Peninsula was part of Ukraine until 2014, when it voted in a referendum to join Russia after the Maidan coup resulted in the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Kiev.
Yanukovich was forced to flee Ukraine and was granted asylum in Russia. In 2019, a Ukrainian court sentenced him in absentia to 13 years in prison for treason, in a decision he said had “nothing to do with the law.” The Canadian government did not clarify how exactly he or his son are supposedly linked to the “theft” of Ukrainian cultural objects.
The Donetsk People’s Republic and the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic have been in conflict with Kiev ever since, after refusing to recognize the coup and declaring independence. The two territories officially became part of Russia last October, along with Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, following referendums in which the local populations voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move.