Ottawa fetes Putin, butcher of Chechnya

December 20, 2000

Toronto Star
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Thank you for Haroon Siddiqui's expose of the Russia's past and Mr. Putin's ongoing treachery,  Ottawa fetes Putin, butcher of Chechnya, Toronto Star, Dec. 17, 2000.  In general, Canadians are prevented from understanding Russia by offerings of superficial reports.  If nothing else, Putin's visit allowed pieces like yours to get published.

The review in Saddiqui's piece of the litany of evil that Russia's government continues to perpetrate domestically and internationally should have been reflected in the Ottawa meeting.  It would have been appropriate to hear reprimands from our side regarding violations and shortcomings: the need to feed Russians; to corral corrupt oligarchs who export women, drugs and laundered money to Canada; to stop destroying Chechnya; to butt out of manipulating the politics of the newly emerging states. Instead we saw Canada's on-going Russo-centric, left-wing, anti-US tendencies used to glue us to Russia's interests.  Hooray for the Ruskies for having us on side with the other "democratic" US irritant, Cuba.

And where was the slap on the hand for the cheeky revival of the symbols of USSR's murderous past?  Having destroyed some 60 million of its people's lives the Communist Russia/USSR anthem is now the rallying call of democratic Russia? Imagine the uproar if Mr. Schroeder of Germany dared to changed the music of the  Germany's anthem to a Nazi march? Imagine the agenda of his subsequent visit to Canada: there would not have been a visit!  Similarly, how double-standard and hypocritical of us to crucify Mr. Haider for his feeble Nazi past while giving the red carpet treatment to a man who was a KGB insider.  And why was there no disgust at Russia's use of land-mines in Afghanistan and Chechnya, one of Canada's pillars of its global peace initiative? And why no indignation exhibited by the same  MPs who chastise China for human rights violations?  Who is responsible for this remarkable double standard in our Foreign Affairs?

It's obvious that work needs to be done to ensure that our foreign policy reflects the new post USSR era. The government might start by defining some fundamental values and ensuring that these are applied even-handedly to all, especially the still active murdering ideologies and states. Otherwise why would they want to wean themselves out of their wicked past?

Keep telling us.

Warm regards,

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn