On January 1, 2017, over a thousand Ukrainians participated in a torchlight march in Kyiv, organized by the “Svoboda” political party, for the 108th birthday of Stepan Bandera. Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists during World War II.
NCSEJ’s Kyiv Representative, Ilya Bezruchko, reported that a column of the marchers began chanting "Juden – Out.” One of the banners had a symbol commonly used by Nazis and the Waffen SS on it with the slogan "We will destroy the second Khazar Khanate." In far-right circles, the “second Khazar Khanate” refers to the notion that Jews secretly control the country.
While NCSEJ supports the right of peaceful demonstration for Ukrainians, we condemn the vile, anti-Semitic remarks made by participants of the march. We urge the national government and local Kyiv authorities to state there is no room for anti-Semitism in an inclusive and democratic Ukraine, and to ensure the safety and well-being of its Jewish citizens.
We have been in contact with the Ukrainian Embassy and our representative in Kyiv will follow up with the appropriate authorities.