The peak group representing Ukrainian Australians is furious that Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the G20 in Brisbane.
The Abbott government should be consistent and push for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be excluded from the G20 summit in Brisbane, a group representing Ukrainian Australians says.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday said there was nothing Australia could do to prevent Mr Putin from attending next month’s meeting of world leaders.
But he said he would press the Russian president to co-operate with the investigation into the downing of MH17 over Ukraine and to do everything to ensure that justice was done.
Stefan Romaniw from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations said allowing Mr Putin to attend the G20 was a “slap in the face” of families who lost loved ones in the disaster in which 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents, were killed.
He said the AFUO was planning anti-Putin rallies to be held during the summit.
The Abbott government should be commended for its tough stance following the MH17 tragedy in July and should not walk away from efforts to exclude Mr Putin from the summit, he said.
Mr Putin had ignored international condemnation of Russian aggression in Ukraine, and forces backed and supplied by Russia were responsible for the loss of lives, Mr Romaniw said.
“Given he has ignored or mocked all diplomatic entreaties to date, it is spin to suggest that the G20 is the right forum at which to make Putin accountable for his actions,” he said.
“All it does is legitimise Putin, rather than criticise him.”
The comments came after Treasurer Joe Hockey promised “full and frank dialogue” with Mr Putin at the leaders’ meeting.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the Abbott government should have used Australia’s leverage as G20 host and UN Security Council member to block Mr Putin’s attendance.
Greens leader Christine Milne also questioned what the government had done to stop the Russian president coming to Australia.
“They’re saying it’s out of our hands, it’s the G20,” she told Sky News.
“What did they do to try and influence other leaders of the G20 to say no to President Putin coming?”