Ukrainian family living in Coquitlam sues Russia, Putin

file photo Jeremy Shepherd

For launching full-scale war against Ukraine and its people, the Russian Federation and President Vladimir Putin should be held liable for acts of terrorism, according to a civil claim recently filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

The claim was filed by Coquitlam residents Oleksiy Mykhaylichenko and Olha Yamploska.

The couple and their three children lived in Kharkiv Oblast, a province in the eastern reaches of Ukraine. The family was on vacation when Russian Federation forces occupied the province, according to the claim.


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The family was forced to abandon their home and properties, as well as their means of earning income.

“The well-established and comfortable life that the plaintiffs and their children had enjoyed in Kharkiv Oblast was extinguished by the actions of the defendants,” the claim stated.

The actions of the Russian Federation were “unprovoked,” and included missile strikes that “injured and killed civilians, caused civilians to be displaced from their homes, caused mental and physical injury to civilians.”

The defendants conducted themselves “recklessly, wantonly and maliciously. That conducted amounted to a terrorist act,” the claim stated.

The Russian Federation owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs but breached that duty by entering the sovereign the territory of Ukraine, according to the claim.


By working in Ukraine as a software engineer and a family doctor, respectively, Mykhaylichenko and Yamploska earned a total annual income of $85,000.

However, neither Mykhaylichenko nor Yamploska speak English “sufficiently to participate in employment in Canada to the same level as they did in Ukraine,” according to the claim.

The claim also listed four properties valued at a total of $850,000 in their claim.

Besides loss of income, the couple are suing for: persistent physical and emotional trauma, severe emotional distress, loss of future development and advancement, as well as the loss of personal property, security and safety.

The claim asks the court to impose a “substantial penalty of exemplary damages.”

Legal basis

The case relies on Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which allows victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators – including foreign states – for damages that occurred as a result of that terrorism.

As a precedent, the claim cites an Ontario court’s decision to award $107 million to the families of six of the passengers who were murdered when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 near Tehran.

Under Canadian law, the Russian Federation is not listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. However, the claim contends the country’s status in Canada will change by the time the trial starts.

The claim quotes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks made on social media in which he called Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians “reprehensible” and stated: “We are committed to holding the Russian regime to account.”

Mykhaylichenko and Yamploska are represented by the Burnaby-based Deer Lake Law Group.


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