‘World must not stand by idly as Ukraine glorifies Nazism at govt level’
The Education Department of the western Ukrainian city of Lvov announced a painting contest for teenagers to commemorate local volunteers of the 1st Galician Division, a Nazi SS fighting unit that committed atrocities against Jews and communists and pledged allegiance to Adolf Hitler. The contest leaflet called on participants to submit their works by April 20, promising prize money for the top three.
“They want their children to praise the Nazi past. They are trying to make [World War Two criminals] a national myth – it’s a danger not only for Ukraine, [but also for] its Jewish and Russian populations, there is a danger that it can spread to other countries of Eastern Europe. We must not stand idly by,” prominent writer and political commentator Eskin told RT.
“Ukraine is promoting glorification of Nazism at the government level,” he said, noting that the Ukrainian parliament passed a law prohibiting criticism of the far-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its fighting force, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The UPA is prohibited in Russia as an extremist organization.
“I expect now the world to be furious about what’s happening in Lvov,” Eskin said, drawing parallels with a Holocaust cartoon contest held in Tehran, which drew widespread condemnation from across the globe.
In another recent incident, a group of neo-Nazis destroyed a Roma camp in Kiev, forcing Roma people, including children, to flee before their tents were burned. “When the government officially praises Nazis, how can you expect anything else?” Eskin said. “People in the West should not be silent about it – this is not just an incident with gypsies, it’s the government policies which make it dangerous and terrible.”
The Ukrainian office of Amnesty International has criticized the police for remaining “inactive” in such cases. “It is important to understand that anyone could become a target of such attacks: Roma, women, anti-corruption activists, Jews, [members of] the LGBT [community], as well as journalists, artists, students or writers,” Oksana Pokalchuk, the Ukrainian unit director, said.