‘Ukraine won’t belong to Yids!’ Odessa nationalist leader stirs crowd on massacre anniversary
The so-called ‘March of Ukrainian Order’ assembled several thousand people in Odessa as demonstrators in the Black Sea port carried flags of Right-Sector, Svoboda and other radical groups, and chanted nationalist slogans. Tetiana Soykina, who was sporting a khaki T-shirt with a Right Sector insignia and an orange fanny pack, addressed the rally from the roof a bus.
"We believe… we are confident that we’ll bring the real Ukrainian order to both Odessa and Ukraine. Ukraine will belong to Ukrainians – not the Yids. Not the oligarchs. Glory to Ukraine!” she said.
“Glory to heroes,” the crowd replied, uttering a famous Ukrainian nationalist slogan, as the crowd appeared to be on the same page as Soykina.
The nationalist rally was held on the anniversary of the ‘Odessa Massacre’ of May 2, 2014, in which 48 people were killed and over 200 injured. Back then, the radicals attacked a group of anti-Kiev activists, forced them to take shelter inside the local “Palace of Trade Unions” and then set the building on fire with petrol bombs. The victims suffocated and burned to death, while some were killed after jumping out of upper-floor windows. In the four years since the tragedy, the killings haven’t been properly investigated by the Ukrainian authorities.
In her address, Soykina hailed those responsible for the attack as heroes, saying that their actions prevented Odessa from becoming a war zone like the nearby Donetsk and Lugansk Regions. In spring 2014, the Ukrainian government sent troops to Donetsk and Lugansk, after the local populations refused to recognize an armed coup in the capital, in which far-right groups, including Right Sector, played a key role. Soykina herself participated in Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine, as part of one of the volunteer battalions.
The head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky, who posted footage of Soykina’s anti-Semitic rant on Facebook, wondered if the nationalist was hinting at new “Jewish pogroms or an outright Holocaust.”
“Should we believe her or not? Should the Jews start packing or [does] the country have a law enforcement system?” Dolinsky wrote.
After footage of the rally caught public attention, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that authorities have launched a probe into the event, adding that “public anti-Semitic appeals are unacceptable in Ukraine” and represent a “medieval, not a patriotic position.” Soykina in turn insisted that she distinguishes the term Jews from Yids, and only meant to attack the “oligarchic rule,” rather than offend people of a “friendly nation.”
On Tuesday, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) sounded alarms over an “unprecedented’ rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine. In a video posted to Twitter, the congress said it documented more than 130 such incidents in the country in 2017, almost a doubling, compared to the previous year. The WJC later deleted the post without explanation.
In late 2017, Israel voiced its protest to the Ukrainian authorities after Jewish buildings in Odessa, a city with a large Jewish community, were painted with ant-Semitic slogans, including: “First toast for Holocaust!” and “K*kes out. Ukraine for Ukrainians.”
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