Tom Shypitka was officially sworn in as Kootenay East MLA during a ceremony at the Legislature in Victoria on Thursday. (photo courtesy Tom Shypitka)

Kootenay MLAs among hundreds sanctioned by Russia

Russia banned 333 Canadians, mainly provincial politicians and athletes, from entering the country

Russia has barred another 333 Canadians from entering the country largely consisting of provincial politicians and athletes who have spoken out against the regime and the military’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some of those names include Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka and Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, along with West Kootenay counterparts in Brittny Anderson, Nelson-Creston MLA and Katrine Conroy, Kootenay West MLA.

All join the region’s federal representative in Kootenay Columbia MP Rob Morrison, who was previously sanctioned by Russia in being banned entry into the country.

Shypitka recently led an effort to get the ICBC to provide driving exams in Ukrainian, as families displaced by the war that have settled in Cranbrook and elsewhere in the province were unable to get licensed.

“I think these sanctions by the Russian government that forbids me to travel to Russia is a lot of nonsense,” Shypitka said. “If this is a penalty because of my efforts and advocacy supporting the people of Ukraine, then so be it.

“My efforts tin supporting Ukrainians to get driver license tests available in the Ukrainian language may have been the catalyst for my sanction. I have no regrets at all on that work.”

The 333 names includes many provincial politicians across party lines in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, such as BC United leader Kevin Falcon and BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau. BC Premier David Eby and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith were already banned under previous sanctions announced last fall.

Additional names banned in the latest round also includes Canadian Olympians such as Hayley Wickenheiser, Clara Hughes, Georgia Simmerling, Tessa Virtue, all of whom had previously signed on to an open letter demanding Russian athletes be barred from the 2024 Olympics.