Alleged assault outside Oilers game constitutes hate crime, Ukrainian groups say

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Two Ukrainian organizations say an alleged assault involving Ukrainian and Russian supporters following an Edmonton Oilers game last week should be investigated as a hate crime by city police.

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In a news release Sunday, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – National (UCC) said they are disturbed by an attack that took place outside Rogers Place on March 9.

The release states that following the hockey game, where the 50/50 draw was dedicated to supporting the Ukrainian-Canadian community’s humanitarian relief efforts, community members donning Ukrainian flags and other symbols were taking photos outside the arena.

The group was then allegedly “punched, kicked, and grabbed by the neck” by a group of men who were speaking and yelling in Russian.

“This was an attack on a group of people simply posing for a photo. Russia is waging a genocidal war against Ukraine. We were showing our support for Ukraine and we were assaulted because of it,” said Orysia Boychuk, president of UCC-APC, who was part of the group.

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“We will never be intimidated by colleagues who turn to violence to try to silence us.”

Alexandra Chyczij, national president of the UCC, said in the release that there has been increasing violence and vandalism against the Ukrainian-Canadian community, institutions and buildings.

“Given that this group of Ukrainians were clearly identified as such by the flags and other symbols they wore, we insist that Edmonton police investigate this assault as a hate crime,” she said.

Police spokeswoman Landis Reichle said Sunday officers who were working extra duty for the hockey game were on scene and “restored order.” An investigation is ongoing.

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