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8 Nov, 2021 12:19

Ukrainian President Zelensky slammed by Jewish MP for branding Red Army leaders ‘soulless’ in liberating Kiev from Nazis

Ukrainian President Zelensky slammed by Jewish MP for branding Red Army leaders ‘soulless’ in liberating Kiev from Nazis

A lawmaker from Ukraine's largest opposition party has hit out at the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, over his comments on the anniversary of the liberation of Kiev from Adolf Hitler's forces by the Soviet Union in WWII.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Zelensky wrote that pushing out the Nazi occupation had come at a significant cost in the lives of Ukrainians, and that “human life is of the highest value.” This, he said, should be accepted by “any state, if it really is a state and not a soulless machine for which individuals are just fuel.”

The Red Army’s campaign in 1943, he said, saw “hundreds of thousands of our ancestors thrown into battle for the liberation of Kiev, to die a violent death, mobilized through the Polish Army and not registered with the military to avoid adding to casualty statistics.” Local troops, he said, were poorly equipped, while paying tribute and expressing gratitude toward those who gave their lives.

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However, Vadim Rabinovich, a Jewish MP from the Opposition Platform — For Life parliamentary grouping blasted the sentiments in a Facebook post on Sunday. “The text gives the impression that the liberation of Kiev from the occupiers is not a holiday or a victory, but a great grief,” he wrote.

According to him, Zelensky “did not mention the atrocities of the Nazis in the city, but focused on the ‘soullessness’ of the Soviet high command.” In a second statement, issued hours after the first, the Ukrainian president underlined his sentiments saying that the capital’s “liberation is the story of the untold feat of the great soldiers who liberated the city from the Nazis. We will never forget them! We are forever grateful to them.”

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Between 1.2 and 1.6 million people are estimated to have died during the Holocaust in Ukraine, perpetrated by Nazi paramilitary organizations and local collaborators. Earlier this year, the country’s government came under fire from the Israeli ambassador in Kiev, Joel Lion, after thousands of far-right activists marched in honor of Stepan Bandera, a nationalist leader who historians say was implicated in a series of wartime pogroms against Jews and ethnic Poles. “We strongly condemn any glorification of collaborators with the Nazi regime,” Lion said. “It is time for Ukraine to come to terms with its past.”

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