INFORMATION AND PROTEST ACTIONS OF CANADIAN UKRAINIANS AT THE 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES IN MONTREAL
The article describes the preparation and holding of information and protest actions of Canadian Ukrainians at the Summer Olympic Games of 1976 in Montreal. Thanks to these actions, the Ukrainian issue was at the center of attention (at least in the United States and Canada), along with the boycott of the Olympics by a number of African countries and the denial of the Taiwan team. Therefore, an effort by Canadian Ukrainians in this regard can be considered successful enough.
After the World War II, a movement emerged in the Diaspora for the participation of Ukrainian athletes in the status of an independent team at the Olympic Games, and its participants substantiated the thesis of “sports colonialism”. For this purpose, the Ukrainian Olympic Committee (UOC) was created in 1952. The UOC was preparing information about Ukrainian Olympians by requesting the International Olympic Committee to ensure the independent participation in competitions of the Ukrainian team, on the grounds that the Ukrainian SSR was a full member of the United Nations. On the eve of the 1976 Olympics, led by Yaroslav Pryshlyak, the Ukrainian Olympic Committee in Montreal was created. In April 1976, the Provincial Department of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee (UCC) in Quebec opened an Information Bureau whose task was to coordinate public initiatives.
At the same time, such mass events as the Olympics served as a good media propaganda for information campaigns of Ukrainian organizations in the free world in order to draw attention to the problem of human rights violations in the Ukrainian SSR. As a result, the 1976 Olympic Games took place in the context of anti-Soviet actions (flagging blue-and-yellow flags during competitions, distributing information materials to the guests of the Olympics, calls for the release of Ukrainian political prisoners, holding thematic exhibitions and press conferences). The leaflets distributed by representatives of Ukrainian youth organizations condemned the Soviet regime and put forward slogans for the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights and the decolonization of Ukraine.
Based on the materials of the former KGB, it is shown how the Soviet side tried to prevent such “hostile manifestations” by resorting to thorough ideological treatment of athletes and pressure on Canadian law enforcement agencies to disrupt the measures planned by Canadian Ukrainians. In preparation for the visit of the Olympic team of the USSR to Montreal, a special representative of the KGB to ensure the security of the Soviet delegation specifically flew to Canada to negotiate with representatives of Canadian special services. At the same time, there were preparations for advocacy aimed at improving the image of the Soviet Union in the international arena. In addition to measures to neutralize anti-Soviet actions, the KGB did not mind the opportunity to create negative publicity of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada.
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