Monument to Nazi massacre victims desecrated in Ukraine
The memorial at the site, where the Nazis gunned down thousands of locals, Soviet prisoners of war and Jews, was painted with the slogans “Heil Hitler” (“Glory to Hitler”) and “Death to the Jews.” The vandals, who remain unidentified, also painted a swastika on the main part of the monument and covered the eyes of the portrait sculpture, depicting the Grieving Mother, with black paint.
Photos of the incident were then uploaded to social networks and have provoked public outrage. According to some reports, some locals even came to the memorial site and painted over the offensive inscriptions.
The local police department said that it has launched an inquiry into the incident. However, according to some media reports, police officers patrolling the area of the memorial right at the time when it was desecrated failed to intervene and stop the vandals. Police have not commented on these allegations.
The monument in Poltava has been repeatedly targeted by vandals. The memorial was consistently damaged over the last two decades. In 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, it was also painted with anti-Semitic slogans.
Neo-Nazi sentiment seems to have been on the rise in Ukraine in the recent years. In one of the most recent examples, a municipal lawmaker in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov, Mariana Batyuk, openly celebrated the birthday of Adolf Hitler on April 20. The local MP, who is a member of the far-right Svoboda party as well as a local history teacher, called the Nazi dictator a “great man” in her Facebook post. However, she then deleted the post following a public outcry, and claimed that her account was “hacked.”
In another instance, a group of far-right radicals set up an exhibition in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of a notorious Waffen SS division, made up of predominantly Ukrainian volunteers.