Thursday, December 02, 2004

Europe’s Ukraine I: Viktor Yushchenko, Democrat and Anti-Semite? (with Update)

A report by the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) notes that Viktor Yushchenko, the supposedly “pro-Western” “democratic” candidate for the Ukrainian presidency, defended a large circulation Ukrainian paper that in 2003 published a bizarre anti-Semitic tract claiming, among other things, that some 400,000 Jews participated in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The paper’s editor, Vasily Gruzin, is quoted via the Jewish Telegraph Agency as saying in defense of his decision to publish the tract, “I personally have nothing against common Jews, but rather against a small group of Jewish oligarchs who control Ukraine both economically and politically. I believe the point of Zionism today is Jewish control of the world, and we see this process at work in Ukraine today.”

The paper, Silski visti, which supports the Ukrainian "opposition" of Viktor Yushchenko, was ordered closed by a Ukrainian court in January 2004 following charges brought by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee that it was inciting ethnic hatred. An English-language website on Ukrainian affairs reproduces a press release dated 29 January 2004 from the website of Viktor Yushchenko’s “Our Ukraine” party, in which Yushchenko responds to the court decision as follows: “The government will get more and more upset with truthful information in mass media the closer we get to elections and it will not be surprising to see increased pressure at other oppositional publications.” (Note that the English-language archives currently available on the “Our Ukraine” website only go back to July 2004.)

The BHHRG report, titled “Shadow of Anti-Semitism over Ukraine's Disputed Election”, also points to links between Yushchenko and the Ukrainian Nationalist leader Andry Shkil, who is quoted favorably citing Nazi ideologist Walter Darré’s ideas on eugenics as well as Mein Kampf.

(Note: On the BHHRG, see my remarks in the comments section of “Forthcoming: Europe’s Ukraine?”.)


On Yushchenko’s support for Shkil, (not an official site of the German Foreign Office, but rather a critical watchdog organ) writes [link in German]:

Precisely in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a place where many thousands of Jews were murdered under the Nazi occupation, Yushchenko’s electoral alliance supported a leading figure of the extreme-right anti-Semitic party UNA-UNSO [Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defense]. The UNA-UNSO counts as militantly anti-Russian and advocates a “Ukrainian-German-Spanish Axis”. It belongs to the tradition of Ukrainian Nazi-collaborators.... The Ukrainian Nazi-collaborators were members of the “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” (OUN(B)). The anti-Semitic nationalist block “enjoyed the particular protection of the German Abwehr” [“Blutige Ouvertüre”, Die Zeit, 26/2001]. The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN) is considered the contemporary successor organization of the OUN(B). It forms part of the electoral alliance of Viktor Yushchenko.