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Russian Embassy Asked Ottawa To Fly Its Flag For Its Independence Day & The Mayor Refused

He said Ottawa won't have anything to do with the Russian government.

Ottawa News Reporter
Ottawa City Hall. Right: Embassy of Russia in Ottawa.

Ottawa City Hall. Right: Embassy of Russia in Ottawa.

Ottawa will not be showing any allegiance to Russia for its Independence Day this year. Ottawa's mayor, Jim Watson, says that the City of Ottawa has denied a request to fly the Russian flag for the country's holiday on June 12.

Shortly before 5 p.m. on June 1, Watson announced on Twitter that he rejected the Embassy of Russia's ask of Ottawa at its City Hall.

"I indicated that until the Russian army leaves Ukraine we will not have anything to do with the Russian government and their illegal invasion," Watson tweeted.

In an email statement from City of Ottawa media relations, the City says it received the request on February 23 in addition to illuminating the heritage building.

According to City of Ottawa rules, they will hang a country's flag on its national day when it has a positive relationship with the country. The City says it does so in order to recognize ethnic diversity.

The regulations also note that the City will not fly flags of any groups that "espouse hatred, violence, or racism, or are politically or religiously motivated or represent other individual conviction."

It's not the only time Ottawa has chosen not to fly a country's flag.

The City says it previously denied flying the People’s Republic of China flag in 2020 and 2021. Media relations say that Watson told staff that the City of Ottawa wouldn't support China's national day ceremonies.

They say he did so as an act of solidarity for Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained in a Chinese prison since December 2018 and were later released in 2021.

Ottawa-Russia tensions amplified after the invasion of Ukraine

Ottawa's diplomatic relations with Russia have been tense since February when Russia further escalated its conflict with Ukraine. Watson, alongside Toronto Mayor John Tory, were among 59 other Canadians initially banned from entering Russia in April.

At the time, Watson said that he believes he was banned after city staff set up pro-Ukrainian signs outside of the Embassy of Russia in Ottawa.

"I suspect my name was added to this most recent list since I asked staff to install 'Free Ukraine' street signs outside of the Russian embassy and wrote to other G7 mayors to request that they stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they face an illegal and violent invasion by Russia," said Watson.

"I do not take this ban seriously and I will continue to speak out against the war crimes being committed by President Putin against the Ukrainian people."

When it comes to Russia's flag, some people took to Twitter and said that Ottawa should fly the Ukrainian flag instead.

"It’s already been up since the invasion and will stay up until the Russian army leaves Ukraine," Watson tweeted.

On Feb. 24, Mayor Watson directed staff to fly the Ukrainian flag. Media relations says that he also asked other mayors in the G7 to raise Ukrainian flags as an act of solidarity following the conflict in Ukraine.

Ukrainian flags have been a hot item in Ottawa since the invasion. Back in March, one flag retailer in Ottawa saw a dramatic uptick in sales, selling over 500 flags in just over a week.

At the time, World of Maps told Narcity that it quickly sold out of Ukrainian flags. "We didn't have any flags in-store anymore," said Petra Thoms, World of Maps co-owner. "We started printing the Ukraine flag on a plastic waterproof material, and that has been flying off the shelves [so] we keep printing that in the meantime."

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