Photo of Zelensky guard sporting Nazi insignia vanishes
Ukraine’s presidential office has altered the set of photos displayed from Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to the recently re-captured town of Izium in the country’s east. A picture of one of Zelensky's armed guards wearing an SS-style patch has been quietly removed from all platforms.
The photo, originally released on the presidential website, Telegram, and other social media, featured a soldier with a stylized skull and crossbones symbol that closely resembles the one used by the 3rd SS Panzer Division ‘Totenkopf’.
The insignia, commonly viewed as a hate symbol, is popular among many neo-Nazis.
The offensive patch appeared to be a modernized, ‘tactical’ version of the insignia, with the skull adorned with a ballistic helmet with headphones. But the helmet appears to display the skeleton key symbol, the insignia of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
The apparent attempt at damage control, however, was only partial successful. The patch is still partially visible on another photo that is still up on one of Zelensky's social media accounts.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied the presence of any neo-Nazi elements in the country’s military, bluntly dismissing such assertions as “Russian propaganda.” Despite that, Ukrainian soldiers sporting various neo-Nazi symbols have repeatedly turned up in official photographs published by the country’s authorities.
In late August, Zelensky posted an image on Instagram featuring a Ukrainian soldier wearing the patch of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician Division. The unit, which predominantly comprised Ukrainian volunteers from the Galicia region, is primarily known for committing war crimes and massacring Polish civilians during World War II.
Earlier this year, Zelensky’s office released a photo of a Ukrainian artilleryman wearing an original ‘Totenkopf’ patch. Ironically, the picture made it into a selection of photos celebrating Victory Day in WWII and was also shared by the country’s Defense Ministry.