A Toronto bakery that has expressed support for Ukraine amid the country’s ongoing tensions with Russia has been vandalized with pro-Russian graffiti.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the president of Future Bakery, located on North Queen Street in Etobicoke near Highway 427, told Global News he believed the vandalism happened early Tuesday.
“It’s not just graffiti, nor a simple act of vandalism. This is an attempt at intimidation,” said Wrzesnewskyj, who is also a former Liberal MP.
“It’s a hate crime.”
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A large banner was hung outside the bakery reading “#StandWithUkraine”.
Various phrases have been written on the banner and surrounding wall, including “F— Ukrian (sic) and Canada”, “#Losers” and “Russia is power”, as well as the word “Russia” in Russian and English. English. .
Words were also covered on the banner, to create “#Putin”.
“It’s an act of cowardice. It won’t intimidate,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
“We live in the best country in the world, a free and democratic country. I am fortunate to be here as the child and grandchild of World War II refugees. Our family knows the consequences of war. It’s time to stand with Ukraine and stop Putin now.
Russia recently placed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an attack on Ukraine within days or weeks, as Washington and its European allies continue efforts to offer Putin a diplomatic way out of the crisis.
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Moscow has said it does not plan an invasion but may take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.
These include a promise that NATO will never admit Ukraine, a demand that the United States and the 30-nation Western security alliance have called unacceptable.
Wrzesnewskyj said it’s unfortunate that when Ukraine and Russia are so close to war, there are those in Canada who support Putin.
“It speaks to the strength of Russian propaganda, Kremlin propaganda,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
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He said the graffiti was discovered at 5:45 a.m. when the first bakery delivery truck of the day arrived.
There is a mural around the banner which was also damaged by vandalism and Wrzesnewskyj said he was unsure if it could be saved.
He said there were no cameras outside the bakery, but they would now be installed.
“It’s a well-lit area. Even though it was done under cover of darkness, it takes some nerve to do it,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
Lubomyr Luciuk, a member of the Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Association and also a friend of Wrzesnewskyj, said he discovered the vandalism Tuesday morning.
“This morning I woke up and found these images in my inbox that shook me to my core. I mean, it’s not just the criminal vandalism. It’s not just the vulgarity It’s meanness,” Luciuk said.
He said he wanted to see the federal government, as well as the police, deal with the incident.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Ukrainian-Canadian National Congress, also called for police investigations and for the vandalism to be dealt with by government officials.
She said anti-Ukrainian incidents are an “ongoing problem in Canada.”
“It’s a cowardly form of intimidation. This is a hate crime against the Ukrainian Canadian community,” Chyczij said.
The Toronto Police Service told Global News that police were present on Tuesday and a report was taken as part of a mischief investigation.
Police said the investigating officer will then contact the Hate Crimes Unit on behalf of the complainant.
— with files from Reuters
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