Harper meets Yanukovych in Ukraine: Asks about Holodomor & human rights

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who flew into Kyiv today to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and impressively asked tough questions regarding the Holodomor genocide and the pro-Russian regime’s crackdown on human rights:

Harper also focused on human rights issues during the meeting and made clear reference to an estimated 10 million deaths at the hands of Josef Stalin, The Canadian Press reports.

Yanukovych has been reluctant to recognize the genocide.

Human rights abuses seem to be a priority for Harper during his visit to Ukraine. He appeared emotional earlier in the day while visiting an outdoor site marking the genocide, and was scheduled to meet with those who have allegedly faced state intimidation due to their political views.

He also laid a symbolic jar of grain at a monument in honour of those who died in the 1932-1933 famine and is meeting with the leader of Ukraine’s opposition.

Yanukovych has faced accusations of attempting to control national media and using police to crack down on historians, academics and students.

Canada considers the event, known as Holodomor, to be a genocide. But Yanukovych chose his words carefully, instead referring to it as a "horrible event in the history of the Ukrainian people and in the history of our neighbouring peoples."

Later in the day, after meeting with opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, Harper once again drove home his point.

"Our presence here and our meeting symbolizes the importance of democracy," he said, before going on to meetings with those who have allegedly faced state intimidation due to their political views.

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But the trip wasn’t all about righting Ukraine’s recent wrongs:

During the discussions Monday, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow Canadian and Ukrainian citizens between 18 and 35 to travel and work for up to one year in each other’s countries.

"Our two countries have strong ties underpinned by the more than 1.2 million Ukrainian descendants living in Canada today," Harper said in a release.

"Today’s agreement will create exciting work and travel opportunities for our youth, forging new bonds between our countries for generations to come."

A very impressive showing by our Canadian PM. You can watch some video of it here