Are Russian ultranationalists attacking Ukrainian cultural property abroad?

On the 5th of April, St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Canada, burned down. ‘When asked if anyone in the congregation may be worried the blaze was related to the conflict in Ukraine, [Pastor Roman] Galadza said, “Absolutely not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.“‘(1) Unfortunately, a set of incidents in Canada and the United States suggest that Russian ultranationalists are active.

The cause of the fire at the church in Brampton was ‘undetermined’, and there was ‘no more evidence’ of any cause than the knowledge that the church had held a service the night before the fire. But, thankfully, Brampton Fire Brigade’s Deputy Chief Brian Maltby is ‘100 per cent sure’ that it was an accident. Apparently, the embers from the service grew into a fire in the fire bucket and spread from there.

However, on the night of the 8th-9th of April, at least two ‘vandals’ ‘toppled or shattered’ 66 headstones, ‘destroyed’ urns and disturbed graveside goods in the cemetery of St. Michael’s Church in Edmonton, Canada. That cemetery had been vandalised in 1999; and Edmonton police have dealt with ten acts of vandalism at cemeteries in the past three years; so they judged this attack ‘fairly random‘. Yet, in context, it seems very targeted.

On the 13th of April, Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in (the Ukrainian Village in) Chicago, USA, was bombed (outside). According to the church, a Caucasian male threw two ‘single flower robot explosive[s]’, of which one detonated. According to the police, the ‘unknown offender’ threw one firework, which did not detonate.

Furthermore, on the 23rd of February, during a memorial service for the civilian dead in Ukraine, more than two kilograms of nails had been scattered under parked cars and around the car parks of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha’s Church and the neighbouring Ukrainian Cultural Center. During the following vigil, two men had desecrated the parishioners’ Ukrainian flag and threatened to kill them. And there had been other (minor) provocations besides those.

It appears that Russian ultranationalists are attacking (people at) Ukrainian cultural heritage sites abroad…

Notes

1: CTV journalist Colin D’Mello (@ColinDMello) shared a screen-grab of it on fire; CBC journalist Ivy Cuervo (@CUERVOreports) and the Canadian Minister of Employment, Social Development and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason), shared photos of its ruins.

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6 Responses to “Are Russian ultranationalists attacking Ukrainian cultural property abroad?”

  1. Thank you for mentioning this, these events are not really well known outside the Ukrainian diaspora communities in which they occurred. We sincerely hope that such attacks will cease.

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