The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO), the national body representing Australian-Ukrainians, has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Marise Payne calling for the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador to Australia and all Russian diplomats; and the immediate suspension of tourist, investment and family visas to Russian and Belarusian nationals, to deny ‘safe haven’ to the Russian and Belarusian elite.
AFUO Co-Chairs Mr Stefan Romaniw OAM and Ms Kateryna Argyrou have called on the Government to follow the lead of twenty one countries who have expelled Russian diplomats – Poland, Germany, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia, Greece, US, Portugal, Romania, Japan, Estonia, Ireland, Austria and Sweden. Lithuania has also expelled its Russian Ambassador and diplomats.
‘Australia has expelled diplomats most recently in 2018 with the expulsion of Russian diplomats following the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK with the nerve agent, Novichok; and in 2012, with the expulsion of the highest-ranking Syrian diplomat to Australia, Charge’ d’Affaires Jawdat Ali, and one other diplomat, in response to the Houla Massacre,’ they said.
‘The Russian Ambassador to Australia, Aleksey Pavlovsky has – repeatedly – continued to support Russia’s war on Ukraine. It is timely and appropriate that the Australian Government now act in solidarity with its international allies and in line with its own precedent to immediately expel Ambassador Pavlovsky and all Russian diplomatic staff,’ they said.
‘These measures will also deny “safe haven” to the Russian and Belarusian elite. If Australia does not restrict visa access, it too may become a complicit “safe-haven” for the many oligarchs and Russian politicians untouched by Australian sanctions. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians live under continual terror – without food, medicine, heating, water – and fleeing for their lives,’ they added.
The Co-Chairs noted that Australia has issued travel bans for certain designated individuals. They suggest that a more targeted approach – suspension of visas – in line with other countries – will have greater impact by adding to the pressure being applied internationally on Russia, and reflect Australian values of respect for freedom, dignity of the individual, commitment to the rule of law and concept of “a fair go”.
Media Inquiries: Stefan Romaniw OAM 0419 531 255 Kateryna Argyrou 0423 204 988
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