Portugal’s Ukraine association takes complaints over High Commission for Migrations to Brussels

Alleges entity continues to receives “strong support from Russian foundations”

The Association of Ukrainians in Portugal (AUP) has accused the country’s High Commission for Migrations (ACM) of turning a blind eye to a seven year old European resolution calling on Member States to strengthen measures against Russia’s “propaganda and disinformation war” in Europe.

Even after exposing the Russian backing of the ‘Edinstvo’ association in Setúbal, which remains a member of the Russkiy Mir foundation (set up by President Putin) and is still the council of Russian compatriots in Portugal, Portugal’s High Commission of Migrations insists on designating the entity as “Ukrainian”.

AUP has done its best nationally to change this situation and decided now to take its grievances to Brussels. 

In a complaint addressed to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, the association explains that several European institutions are following a similar path – contrary to the content of the resolution adopted by the European Parliament (EP) in November 2016.

In its appeal, freely available on the facebook page of AUP president Pavlo Sadokha, AUP claims the ACM operates under the guidance of a member of the government integrated into the presidency of the Council of Ministers.

The letter recalls that in 2021 AUP called on the ACM “not to discriminate against Ukrainians”. (At the time, ACM was describing the Ukrainian community – the second largest in Portugal – as “from the east”; not by the national name of “Ukraine” or “Ukrainians” as it does with Brazilians, Angolans and Cabo Verdeans).

“The fact is that, after successive complaints lodged by AUP and the Ukrainian Embassy (in Lisbon), the designation of “East” was eventually changed to “Ukraine” – but the practice of lumping pro-Russian organisations in with those representing people from Ukraine continued – and AUP feels it needs to be sorted, once and for all.

As the letter to Margaritis Schinas explains, meetings have gone ahead to no great avail.

AUP says the solution is “fairly simple (…)  An organisation can be classified as Ukrainian if its statutes recognise that classification

But when this was suggested, “invariably, the answer we got was that it would be necessary to change the national law regulating the ACM so that the Ukrainian community could be represented by Ukrainian organisations and not by mixed associations”.

None of this makes sense, neither in light of the 2016 resolution nor now following the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia…

“In addition, on its official website, the High Commission for Migrations (continues to recommend) that Ukrainian refugees seek support from pro-Russian organisations…” 

“If this channel of aggression (propaganda) is not stopped, it will be very difficult to end this terrible war, which has already claimed thousands of lives, destroyed entire towns and villages in Ukraine and caused the largest refugee crisis in Europe, most of whom have found a welcome in EU countries,” says AUP.

Thus the hope that now, through changing tack and going ‘European’, the association of Ukrainains in Portugal can get somewhere.

The body is calling on the European Commission to “investigate the situation in Portugal and “adopt measures deemed appropriate, to comply with the European Parliament resolution” – to help Ukrainians who have fled here for protection truly feel ‘protected’ from Russian pressures.

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