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12 Apr, 2023 19:52

Kiev votes to name street after WW2 Waffen-SS commander

The city’s mayor reportedly stopped the move, after pressure from Israel
Kiev votes to name street after WW2 Waffen-SS commander

Residents of Kiev have voted to rename a street in the Ukrainian capital after an infamous Nazi collaborator, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Although city authorities were reportedly ready to honor Waffen SS commander Vladimir Kubiyovich, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko canceled the measure after Israel’s ambassador intervened.

As Ukrainian officials continue their campaign of removing monuments to Russian culture and history, the Kiev city council recently opened an online poll where residents could vote on a new name for Przhevalsky Street, which was named after the 19th-century Russian explorer Nikolay Przhevalsky.

The council gave the public a number of names to choose from, but, according to Ukrainian Jewish Committee Director Eduard Dolinsky, one clear favorite stood out: that of Nazi collaborator Kubiyovich.

Kubiyovich received 31% of the vote, Dolinsky told the Jerusalem Post, with the next two options receiving 18% and 10%, respectively. Although voting was set to remain open until Saturday, Dolinsky said that the council would likely approve renaming the street in Kubiyovich’s honor.

A geographer by profession, Kubiyovich was a supporter of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during the early days of the Second World War. The OUN was led by Stepan Bandera, another Nazi collaborator who is widely revered in modern Ukraine. In 1943, Kubiyovich helped establish the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician division. 

Comprising predominantly Ukrainian volunteers from the Galicia region (which spans what is now southwestern Poland and western Ukraine), the division is known for committing atrocities against Poles and Jews in the latter years of the war. As Soviet forces neared Poland in 1944, Kubiyovich fled to Germany and then to France, where he remained until his death in 1985.

Despite support for the measure in Kiev, Przhevalsky Street will not be renamed. After the publication of the Jerusalem Post’s article, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, announced on Twitter that following a conversation with Mayor Klitschko, “this inappropriate initiative won’t go ahead.”

Kubiyovich is still honored with a plaque in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, while multiple streets and squares throughout Ukraine have been renamed after Bandera since the pro-Western revolution of 2014. Since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last February, countless photographs have emerged of Ukrainian soldiers wearing Nazi regalia, some of which were posted to social media by President Vladimir Zelensky, who is Jewish.