The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Harper says Ukrainian regime will be judged on its actions, not its words

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada is watching to see if the regime of Viktor Yanukovych follow up on its commitments after the Ukrainian president agreed to relinquish some powers and bring the opposition into the government.

"We welcome news of the agreement between the Yanukovych regime and the opposition. But we will judge actions not words," Harper said in a statement issued Friday.

"The regime must deliver on its commitments to the Ukrainian people and end the violence that has led to the deaths of scores of civilians."

Harper said Canada will continue working with its allies to implement asset freezes if they are necessary, based on what is happening in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Tuesday that senior Ukraine officials would be barred from entering Canada. Harper said those restrictions remain in effect.

The protests began in November after Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union in favour of stronger ties with Russia.

Ukraine's 46 million residents have deeply divided loyalties between Russia and the West. The country's western regions want to be closer to the European Union and have rejected Yanukovych's authority in many cities, while eastern Ukraine favours closer ties with Russia.

Earlier Friday in Halifax, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander spoke out against what has happened in Ukraine, saying he's outraged by the violent developments in Kyiv.

"To see that level of destruction and loss of life in a major capital ... was deeply disturbing to all of us," he said at a news conference.

He said the latest moves to form a new government are worth watching because Canada wants to see Ukraine "returned to the path of democracy."

Both sides must "put aside their weapons, put aside their Molotov cocktails," Alexander said.

Earlier this week, Canadians of Ukrainian origin gathered on Parliament Hill to denounce the violence in their homeland. Many expressed the fear that proposed sanctions being considered by Canada, the U.S. and the European Union may come too late to save their former country from economic and political disaster.

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