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COMMENT: Addressing the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko recently gave a pro-forma apology for the participation of Ukrainians in the Holocaust. The fact that he escaped significant criticized in Israel (or anywhere else for that matter) for laying a wreath in tribute  to the OUN/B at Babi Yar speaks loudly for the overwhelming hypocrisy concerning the true nature of the Ukrainian government and the forces that brought it into being.
It would be impossible to exaggerate the role of the OUN/B successor organizations in Ukraine’s “new” government, with Svoboda and Pravy Sektor deeply involved with that benighted country’s military and intelligence establishments . Furthermore, the post-Maidan political landscape has featured OUN/B participants such as Roman Svarych  (personal secretary to Ukraine’s World War II collaborationist government chief Jaroslav Stetsko) serving as an advisor to Poroshenko, after having served as Ukrainian minister of justice under the Yuschenko regime and both Timoshenko governments.
Poroshenko’s government passed a law criminalizing the accurate telling of World War II history in Ukraine and his government and intelligence service have institutionalized  the fundamental revision  of Ukraine’s history in that conflict.
Now, Israelis and Ukrainian Jews are “shocked, shocked” that a Nazi could get elected major in a Ukrainian town or that a member of the Ukrainian parliament could sing songs praising Hitler. They shouldn’t be.
Note the reference in the second article below to the fourteen words , minted by American Nazi David Lane, who drove the getaway car in the murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg.
A video of a Ukrainian opposition lawmaker saluting Adolf Hitler made its way online this weekend, only days after his country’s President apologized for Ukrainian collaborators’ role in the Holocaust during a state visit to Israel.
In the video, Artyom Vitko, the former commander of the government backed Luhansk-1 Battalion and now a member of the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, can be seen sitting in the back of a car wearing camouflage fatigues and singing along to a song by a Russian neo-Nazi band extolling the virtues of the Nazi dictator.
“Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time,” Vitko sang, saluting the camera with his water bottle as the car’s sound system blared “Heil Hitler.”
Vitko’s pro-Nazi sentiments emerged immediately on the heels of party leader Oleh Lyashko denunciation of President Petro Poroshenko for for his recent comments apologizing or Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust.
Speaking before the Knesset last week, Poroshenko said that “we must remember the negative events in history, in which collaborators helped the Nazis with the Final Solution.”
“When Ukraine was established [in 1991], we asked for forgiveness, and I am doing it now, in the Knesset, before the children and grandchildren of the victims of the Holocaust… I am doing it before all citizens of Israel,” he added.
“This kind of humiliation of Ukrainians has not been recorded in our history yet. During a visit to Israel, President Poroshenko apologized for the ‘Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust,’” Lyashko posted on Facebook on Thursday.
“This is exactly situation if we would accuse Georgians and Jews in the Holodomor, appealing to the atrocities of Dzhugashvili, Beria, Kaganovich, etc,” he said, referring to a massive famine that resulted from the forced collectivization of farms in the Soviet Union during the 1930s.
The Holodomor, as it is known in Ukraine, killed millions and is seen by many in that country as a genocide on par with the Holocaust.
“The Knesset has not recognized the Holodomor as the genocide of the Ukrainian people. That is a goal for Ukrainian authorities visiting the Holy Land rather than belittling Ukrainians [and] proclaiming inferiority of his people on the international level,” Lyashko added.
“I would say that this is the reason Poroshenko is President and not Lyashko. Lyashko is a populist only saying what he thinks people want to hear,” said Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich.
The Jewish community, Bleich said, disagrees with the populist politician’s definition of humiliation, seeing disgrace as when “one cannot face up to history.”
“Pride is to look back, and learn from mistakes. No one accused the Ukrainian people of causing or creating the Holocaust. However, the fact is that there were Ukrainians who participated in the murder and persecution of Jews. They are worthy of condemnation.”
“The sight of a member of the Ukrainian Parliament singing a song praising Hitler, underscores the extremely deep problem in today’s Ukrainian democracy regarding the ongoing efforts in that country (and elsewhere throughout post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Hungary) to rewrite the narrative of World War II and the Holocaust,” said Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“The fact that the Ukrainian authorities honor groups which actively participated in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust and glorify their leaders sends a message that delegitimizes the accurate historical narrative, and paves the way for disgusting scenes like this one. The Ukrainian leadership should not feign surprise or astonishment, they’re the ones at least partially responsible.”
Earlier this year Ukraine’s parliament has extended official recognition to a nationalist militia that collaborated with the Germans during the Second World War.
However, many Ukrainian Jews have appeared rather sanguine, explaining that they believe that such moves are more likely the result of a need to build up a national ethos and raise up heroes during a time of conflict rather than a celebration of such figures’ anti-Semitic attitudes. Despite that, such moves have been widely panned by Jewish organizations worried about the long term effects of the glorification of anti-Semites.
Asked about the decision to honor such groups, President Poroshenko told the Post that the government was paying tribute to those who fought for national independence.
“Let’s not try to find the black cat in the black room, especially if there is nothing there,” he said.
Two months after local elections were held across Ukraine, residents of the small northern city of Konotop are expressing shock and dismay over the behavior of newly chosen Mayor Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party.
According to reports, Semenikhin drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it. The flag also features a Muslim crescent and a cross.
Svoboda, known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine until 2004, has been accused of being a neo-Nazi party by Ukrainian Jews and while party leaders have a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, their rhetoric has toned down considerably over the past years as they attempted to go mainstream.
While it managed to enter mainstream politics and gain 36 out of 450 seats in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, the party’s support seemed to evaporate following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, in which it played a central role. It currently holds six seats in the legislature.
The party managed to improve its standing during recent municipal elections, however, obtaining some 10 percent of the vote in Kiev and garnering second place in the western city of Lviv. For the most part, however, Svoboda is far from the major worry for Ukrainian Jews that it was only two years ago.
“It is a sad, but a reality when anti-Semites are being elected in local governing bodies, even mayors promoting hate and intolerance.
Konotop is a clear case,” said Eduard Dolinsky of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.
For the Jews of Konotop, however, worries persist, with Ilya Bezruchko, the Ukrainian representative of the US-based National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, saying he believed residents, who generally get along well with local Jews, voted for Semenikhin because he projected an image of someone who could bring change and reform a corrupt system.
However, Semenikhin himself has a history of fraud, having been arrested for posing as an electricity company worker in order to extract payments from businesses in Kiev in 2012, Bezruchko charged.
Bezruchko, whose late grandfather was the head of the community and whose mother currently works for the city council, said Semenikhin and his assistant have left angry comments on his Facebook page in response to critical articles that the Jewish activist had posted on his blog.
He claimed that someone close to the mayor claimed that he would be hospitalized if he returned to the city from Kiev, where he currently lives, and that the mayor himself posted to say that his mother was corrupt and should be fired from her job.
“The reaction of [the] community is shock. People are shocked it could happen in [a] city and nobody believed it could happen here but it happened somehow,” community activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post by phone Monday.
While there have been a couple of instances of anti-Semitic graffiti over the past decade and one occasionally hears references to conspiracy theories identifying Ukrainian political leaders as Jews, for the most part, relations between the Jewish community and their non-Jewish neighbors are cordial, he said.
However, while the mayor attempts to make sure his statements never cross over into outright anti-Semitism, many things he says can be interpreted in such a way, he continued. As an example, he referred to a recent statement by Semenikhin in which the mayor refused to apologize for anti-Jewish actions taken by far-right nationalists in World War II, intimating that it was because those responsible for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s were largely Jewish.
The Holodomor was a manmade famine that came about during the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union and which led to the starving deaths of millions. Ukrainians consider it a genocide.
“The community is discussing the situation and they understand that the mayor is balancing between anti-Semitism— – he isn’t crossing a redline with statements but saying border things that can be understood as anti-Semitic,” he explained.
Speaking to the Post, Vyacheslav Likhachev, an anti-Semitism researcher affiliated with the Vaad of Ukraine and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said “Ukrainians are afraid of the Russian threat, not the threat of national radicalism,” and that “Semenikhin has successfully created himself an image of a defender of Ukrainian independence, and voters were able to support him, not paying attention to the radicalism of his views.
Unfortunately, Likhachev said the current Ukrainian legislation does not allow to forbid those with right-wing views to take part in the election, or to remove them from the elected positions.
“The special anti-communist and anti-Nazi law says about banning the symbols of the National Socialist (Nazi) of the totalitarian regime, which includes symbols of the Nazi Party and the state symbols of the Third Reich only,” he said. It is impossible to interpreted in legal terms symbols like 14/88.”
(It is impossible within the scope of this post to cover our voluminous coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Previous programs on the subject are: FTR #‘s 777 , 778 , 779 , 780 , 781 , 782 , 783 , 784 , 794 , 800 , 803 , 804 , 808 , 811 , 817 ,
818 , 824 , 826 , 829 , 832 , 833 , 837 , 849 , 850 , 853 , 857 , 860 , 872 , 875 , 876 , 877 . Listeners/readers are encouraged to examine these programs and/or their descriptions in detail, in order to flesh out their understanding.)