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City of Ottawa refuses ‘outrageous’ request to fly Russian flag

The Russian Embassy in Ottawa asked the city to fly the Russian flag and light up a wing of City Hall in red, white and blue to mark Russia Day on Sunday, but the city refused .

According to a statement by Arnold McLean, the city’s chief of protocol, his office received the request from the Embassy of the Russian Federation on February 23, the day before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

The embassy asked the city to “raise its flag and illuminate the heritage building in recognition of Russia Day on June 12, 2022,” the statement said.

Russia Day commemorates the establishment of the Russian Federation on June 12, 1990. The national holiday was first observed in 1992.

The Ukrainian flag has been flying outside Ottawa City Hall since February 24 in a show of solidarity. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

Ask the surprised mayor

On February 24, following the invasion, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson ordered the flag of Ukraine to be flown at City Hall “for an indefinite period” and urged the mayors of other G7 capitals to do the same.

Watson also ordered the Protocol Office to deny the Russian Embassy’s request.

It just shows the character of the Russian state.– Borys Gengalo, Ukrainian Canadian Congress Ottawa

“[It’s] outrageous that they even consider asking for it, and I told them that under no circumstances will we raise your flag until you are out of Ukraine, and we have the Ukrainian flag still flying and will be flying on our place until the Russians leave the country,” Watson said on Friday.

“I was surprised they came and asked for it,” he said. “You’d think they’d put two and two together that we weren’t going to fly their flag on our property.”

In early March, Watson joined Andrii Bukvych, Chargé d’Affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa, to install blue and yellow signs reading “Free-Libre Ukraine” on Charlotte Street, directly across from the Russian Embassy.

At the time, Watson called the gesture “a small symbol of defiance”.

A pro-Ukrainian supporter waves the country’s flag outside the Russian Embassy in Ottawa on February 24. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“They don’t care about public opinion”

According to Ottawa’s official flag-raising policy, the city “will fly the flag of any nation on its national holiday with which Canada has diplomatic relations.”

However, the City “will not fly the flag of any group or organization whose businesses or philosophies are contrary to City of Ottawa policies or by-laws, which advocate hatred, violence or racism. , or who have political or religious motivations or who represent other individual beliefs”.

Borys Gengalo, president of the Ottawa branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said the fact that the Russian embassy made such a request on the eve of a brutal military invasion of a sovereign neighbor says a lot about their mentality. .

“It just shows the character of the Russian state. They are bold, they are brazen, they don’t care about public opinion. They demand things be done for them,” he said.

“The very invasion of Ukraine is an example of their mentality, and that is reflected in what the Russian Embassy is doing here.”

Attempts made on Friday to contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa were unsuccessful.

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Post expires at 4:05am on Thursday June 23rd, 2022

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