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B.C. halts sale of Russian liquor, gives $1M to Red Cross for Ukraine

Premier John Horgan said Friday that British Columbia supports the people of Ukraine in their battle to turn back Russian military forces. 
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Victoria Grando prepares cabbage rolls at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre for a fundraiser on Friday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The provincial government has stopped the import and sale of Russian liquor products in B.C. Liquor Stores and provincial liquor distribution centres, Deputy ­Premier Mike Farnworth announced Friday.

The province is also contributing $1 million to the Red Cross to support the people of Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion this week.

“We join the prime minister and allied nations in deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Our province stands with those who understand Europe’s peace following two world wars depends on respecting international law,” said Farnworth, minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Premier John Horgan said Friday that British Columbia supports the people of Ukraine in their battle to turn back Russian military forces.

Horgan said B.C. is prepared to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the conflict to the province.

B.C. is working with the federal government and will support whatever sanctions Canada decides to impose to help condemn Russian actions, he said.

“I want to add my condemnation to the wrongful actions of the government of Russia in taking away the liberties and threatening the lives of the people of Ukraine,” Horgan said at a news conference at ­Government House after announcing changes to his cabinet.

“I stand with all British Columbians and indeed all Canadians condemning that activity and hoping that Mr. Putin will see the error of his ways, and the wrath of the international community will be sufficient for him to turn back on this horrific course he is on.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canada will impose a third set of co-ordinated sanctions on Russia, including on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Horgan said the province is working with the federal government to see how it can participate in whatever sanction programs Ottawa puts in place. “For sanctions to be effective, they have to be comprehensive.”

The premier also said B.C. is prepared to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the conflict to the province.

On Friday, Tamara Krawchenko, an assistant professor at the University of Victoria, was relieved to hear that her younger sister Dana had made it safely from Kyiv to western Ukraine.

But Krawchenko’s relief was tinged with anger that her sister’s life is being destroyed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As tanks rolled through the capital, Dana and her husband packed their three young children into their car and left the city.

“My sister has nerves of steel because she is Ukrainian,” Krawchenko said. “Ukraine has been under threat for a long time and she is a fighter.”

Dana runs a wine bar and a publishing house in Kyiv that publishes books about Ukrainian culture, history and travel, she said.

Krawchenko, who keeps in touch with her sister by phone and social media, said the family plans to wait out the conflict, in hopes the Ukrainian military will manage to keep the city out of Russian hands.

Krawchenko said Ukrainians are an inspiration to the world right now. “The budget for their army is less than the budget of the New York police and they are fighting off one of the biggest armies in the world. They are showing they have steel, determination and heart.”

She said friends from across the world have reached out to her, including friends in Russia who are horrified by the actions of their authoritarian government.

Tougher sanctions are coming, but meanwhile the Russians are committing crimes of war, bombing kindergartens and an orphanage, she said.

“In one city, fighting was so intense, the Ukrainian forces got in touch with the Russians forces and said ‘Let our orphans flee. Let our children flee. Give us a break so we get those with disabilities out of the cities.’ And the Russians said: ‘F**k you,’ ” said Krawchenko. “The world has to know this is barbaric.”

Putin will not stop at Ukraine’s border, said Krawchenko, noting that Russia is Canada’s neighbour and a threat to Canada’s north.

In response to the invasion, the City of Victoria has raised the Ukrainian flag on the Pandora side of city hall. It was set to be lit in blue and yellow Friday night.

The Canada sign at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour will be illuminated in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag, the Harbour Authority said.

A solidarity rally for Ukraine is planned for 12:30 on Sunday at the legislature, where a Ukrainian flag is flying.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

— With files from The Canadian Press