Opposition Leader Godwin Friday has called on Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to bring home Vincentian students in Russia.
He said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines should issue a clear condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We can do other things as well, we have students who are in Russia, studying,” Friday said Monday on his weekly radio show.
Gonsalves said on Friday that his government had contacted the “seven or eight” Vincentians studying in Russia “and everyone is in order”.
The opposition leader said that had been told that at least two Vincentian police officers “were doing training” in Russia.
“What are our police officers doing training in Russia? What could it teach us about policing in a democracy?”
iWitness News understands that the police officer, who have been in Russia since 2018, are studying “national security matters”.
He said that bringing the Vincentian students home is “not just a matter of security”, adding that it is Ukraine that is “physically being at risk of being violated.
“But nevertheless, our people who are studying in these countries, to say that we are terminating those programmes and calling them home is a stance that we can send a message and say you can’t do what you’re doing in Ukraine and expect business as usual or expect relationships as usual.”
He noted that companies, such as oil giant British Petroleum have divested their investment in Russia, and sports organisations, such as FIFA, have said they would not host any competitions in the federation.
“That is also because they’re saying, ‘Listen, you can’t do what you’re doing, violating somebody else’s territorial integrity, invading a democratic country in Europe and expect that business people are just going to come back and be business as usual in your relations with that country.”
Friday said St. Vincent and the Grenadines can send that message “by saying, ‘Bring our students home. … that programme, we cannot continue it under these conditions. Bring the police officers here.’”
The opposition leader continued:
“I mean, whether they should be there in the first place — but the point is if they’re there and they’re doing training, bring them here, you don’t want them to be learning any of those things — that this is a normal way in which we are going to conduct affairs whether it’s domestic or international.”