In response to a protest from the World Jewish Congress, after the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa unveiled a statue celebrating nationalist leader Symon Petliura — whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jews in pogroms between 1918 and 1921 — a regional official from the extremist Svoboda party threatened Jewish citizens. In a Facebook rant, the Svoboda official warned Jews opposed to the Petliura statue to fall in line or face the consequences. The Svoboda official stated that “the only time we comfortably coexisted with kikes is Koliyvishchyna,” a reference to an 18th century pogrom against Jews in Ukraine.
Sadly, the head of the current Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) Boghdan Chervak — who also serves as Ukraine’s First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting — just issued a similar threat against Ukraine’s Jews. In a Facebook post Chervak also threatened those opposed to the Petliura statue.
In his post, Chervak wrote “thank God, Ukraine still has people like Zalizniaks.” Maxim Zalizniaks was the leader of the Koliyvishchyna pogrom. While he doesn’t come right out and say “Hey, guys, let’s go and do some pogroms,” the allusion to Koliyvishchyna and his expression of appreciation that Ukraine still has people like Zalizniaks today makes the underlying threat of antisemitic violence disturbingly clear. To put it in American political terms, it’s a “dog whistle.”
This is only Chervak’s most recent antisemitic outburst. After a court case was filed in June to stop the capital city of Kyiv (Kiev) from renaming a street after Roman Shukhevych — who as head of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) fought for an independent Ukraine but also collaborated with the Nazis — Chervak suggested that those opposed to Shukhevych Street might want to move to Jerusalem. And in June, Chervak called Ukraine’s World War Two Waffen SS-Galizien division (created with the support of Heinrich Himmler) “heroes.”
Chervak is not only head of the OUN, but also the First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting. Given his blatantly antisemitic views Chervak should not be serving in democratic Ukraine’s government, much less in a fairly senior position. Defending History therefore calls upon Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove Chervak from his post as well as making a strong statement condemning Chervak’s views. The Double Game PR tactic, so common in parts of Eastern Europe, of showing a Jeffersonian face to CNN and the New York Times, while legitimizing pro-fascist tendencies at home, needs to be exposed in the wider media.
Below is the translation of Chervak’s most recent post with our commentary added in square brackets [ ]:
After Putin, the homegrown opponents of Petliura and “antisemitism” have raised their heads. [He is saying first Putin complained about Petliura, and now some in Ukraine are following suit.] I’m purposefully not naming names.
First, they’re outcasts and idiots. Second, I don’t forget that Ukraine, thank God, still has its Gontas and Zalizniaks [He’s referring to Ivan Gonta and Maksim Zalizniak, leaders of Koliyvishchyna, a horrific pogrom in which Jews were slaughtered. In other words, he’s saying thank God Ukraine still has people like that.]
I wonder, why do these people [those who criticize Petliura] get air time? Slinging mud against Petliura isn’t pluralism and democracy; at the very least, it’s anti-Ukrainian activity for which people should be tried and imprisoned. [He’s saying those who say that Petliura was a war criminal should be imprisoned.]
Symon Petliura should stand in the same category as Mazepa, Hrushevskiy, and Konovalyskiy, Mazepovtsi, Petliurovtsi, Melnikivtsi, Banderovtsi, and Bulbovtsi [followers of Mazepa, Petliura, OUN leader Melnik, OUN leader Bandera, and Bulba] make up the brightest and most heroic pages of our history. [In this final sentence, he makes the leap from World War I era pogroms to actual World War II era Holocaust collaborators in his pantheon of “national heroes.”]