WASHINGTON, DC, February 13, 2019 - The National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ) is deeply concerned about reports that some Ukrainian police have publicly declared their admiration for followers of militant Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.
These declarations are yet more examples of glorifying past leaders who do not deserve a place of honor in Ukraine’s history. NCSEJ calls on Ukraine’s government to renounce these sentiments.
On February 9, during a violent right-wing protest in Kyiv, while arresting one of the demonstrators, an officer was filmed shouting, “On the ground, Banderite!” This outburst resulted in a public outpouring of allegiance on social media to Stephan Bandera, a leader of the OUN-UPA, a World War II-era nationalist group that fought the Soviets to create an independent Ukraine, and also collaborated with the Nazis. Many police officers, including Ukraine’s national chief of police, and members of the Interior Ministry, have expressed their support for Bandera.
As the March 31 Ukrainian presidential election approaches, emotions are running high and protest groups with varied agendas are vying to gain attention. In this milieu, Ukrainian politicians must speak out against the perpetuation of hateful rhetoric. Any election campaign that includes glorifying historic nationalist individuals and groups, who killed thousands of Jews and Poles, must not be permitted.
Now is the time for Ukraine’s government and civil society to look objectively at its nation’s past, and promote a narrative dedicated to the truth. Ukraine must reject a one-sided, politicized view of its complicated World War II history.