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Canada must block Russia’s leadership and abuse of Interpol

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On Wednesday, Interpol will be electing a new president to head the international criminal policing agency and a member of the Putin regime is currently the lead candidate. Should Interpol confirm the Kremlin’s candidate, the move would be akin to letting a ravenous fox out in the international human rights hen house.

While Interpol’s charter forbids it from engaging in political activity, this hasn’t stopped the Kremlin and other repressive regimes, from trying to subvert Interpol’s mandate to help them achieve their political objectives.

Among the tools available to Interpol member states, are the Red Notice and Diffusion notices, which are formal requests, made by one member state to all other Interpol members, to arrest and extradite an individual. These are important tools when used by law abiding nations but have terrifying potential when abused by regimes that engage in political repression — such as Russia, China, Venezuela and others.

The number of Red Notices and Diffusions have exploded over the past decade, doubling since 2016. Activists believe that many of them are frivolous or politically motivated according to Fair Trial, a U.K.-based rights group.

The leading candidate to become head of Interpol is a Russian, former Major-General Aleksandr Prokopchuk. The previous president, Meng Hongwei, was kidnapped by his own government when visiting China in the September and a letter of resignation from Interpol was delivered the next month.

Among them, is investor and global human rights activist, Bill Browder, who has been aggressively pursued by Kremlin authorities since 2008. Vladimir Putin tried him in absentia in 2017 on politically motivate charges aimed at silencing the global Magnitsky human rights campaign he leads.

A leading source of foreign investment to Russian in the early 2000’s, Browder’s company, Hermitage Capital, was the target of a $230 million tax fraud, committed by organized criminals working with Kremlin officials. In 2008, Hermitage lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky was detained, after he reported the theft by Russian officials. He died in prison a year later from systematic negligence and being viciously beaten by prison officials. Since his death Browder has embarked on a campaign to bring his killers to justice by promoting international sanctions legislation targeting global human rights abusers with visa bans and asset freezes in the West, including Canada.

Browder’s human rights campaign has become a major threat to the oligarchs who keep Vladimir Putin in power and the Russian president himself. It became a central theme of the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki this summer, and is at the core of the Mueller Russia probe. It has also put Bill Browder in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, along with other prominent Russian pro-democracy and human rights activists, including those in Canada.

The Kremlin’s toolbox of political repression has expanded over the past decade, to include legislation that crudely restricts various forms of freedom of speech and allows the Kremlin to prosecute violators both in Russian and abroad.

Among the most severe is the Russian “gay propaganda” law. The draconian anti-LGBTQ law makes advocacy for gay rights or any public support for gay issues, a crime. The law also applies to foreigners who promote gay rights in Russia.

Most worrying, is that the Kremlin has prosecuted and convicted many individuals in absentia. An Interpol led by the Kremlin, would allow Putin to apply Interpol Diffusion and Red Notices on its critics and those of its allies, without any hesitation.

Canadians have also been targeted with Kremlin repression. In March 2016, the Kremlin lawyer at the centre of the current Mueller probe, Nataliya Veselnitskaya, brought Russian government attention to a memorial event I organized for assassinated Russian opposition leader and my friend, Boris Nemtsov, at the University of Toronto. The event included a panel discussion with Bill Browder, opposition leader, Vladimir Kara-Murza and Boris Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna. Within days, a formal request into the event and my involvement by the Office of the Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika, was made by a Russian Duma member, Georgy Federov.

There is no reason to believe the Kremlin would not expand its abuse of the Red Notice system to silence international critics once its candidate takes control of the organization, including those in Canada and in the nations of our allies.

The Canadian government and all lawmakers must be alert to the serious threat that the Kremlin’s takeover of Interpol poses to international human rights. Canada can join calls by other nations, including Ukraine, to suspend Russia from the organization and actively seek a new international alternative to form a new international law enforcement body among law abiding nations.

Marcus Kolga is an expert on disinformation ,human rights and sanctions. He is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad.



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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