National News

Wider travel ban for senior Ukraine officials

OTTAWA - Canada is responding to the continuing violence in Kyiv by expanding its travel ban on senior Ukrainian government officials and threatening economic sanctions as well.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canadians continue to be outraged by the continuing violence in the Ukrainian capital.

"For months, our government has delivered a strong message to the Ukrainian government that its citizens must be allowed to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest without being subjected to deadly force and appalling brutality," Harper said in a statement.

"The outrageous violence being witnessed by the world must cease, and we hold the regime responsible for these actions against its own citizens."

Last month, the Canadian government imposed a travel ban on some officials and promised medical aid for protesters.

There were no immediate specifics about the newly broadened travel ban, nor did Harper's statement provide details of the planned sanctions.

He does say, however, that even tougher measures are being considered.

Harper is urging the hardline government of President Viktor Yanukovych to stop the violence which has rocked the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander had been scheduled to "provide an update on the situation in Ukraine" during a Thursday afternoon teleconference.

First the teleconference was "cancelled," and then it was rescheduled for less than half an hour later. As journalists waited on the line, the Prime Minister's Office released Harper's statement.

When the teleconference began a few minutes later, Alexander made brief remarks — his announcement appeared to be the same as that from the PMO — before the call ended without time for questions.

The minister's spokeswoman, Codie Taylor, tweeted that an "issue with the phone line" was the reason the call ended so abruptly.

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