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"Ashamed of yourself": Ambassador Melnyk's statements about nationalists Bandera cause controversy

2022-06-30T14:39:34.073Z

Ukraine Ambassador Melnyk makes no secret of his admiration for the nationalist Stepan Bandera. In an interview he was confronted with Bandera's anti-Jewish statements.



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Ambassador of Ukraine Andriy Melnyk

Photo: IMAGO/Christian Spicker

The Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk is polarizing.

Many appreciate his warnings and sharp attacks as a confession to the suffering of the people in Ukraine - others see it as verbal gaffes.

Again and again a point of contention: Melnyk's attitude to the Ukrainian nationalist and partisan leader Stepan Bandera.

Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist who worked briefly with the Wehrmacht during World War II but was then imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and later murdered by the KGB.

He is considered a national hero in parts of Ukraine for his fight for the country's independence from the Soviet Union.

Others see him as a fascist and war criminal who cooperated with the National Socialists.

Melnyk himself is considered a follower of Bandera.

“What a denial of history.

What a tampering with history«

In an interview with YouTuber Thilo Jung, the ambassador now defended his position.

Jung confronted Melnyk with alleged Bandera massacres of Poles and Jews.

The Ukrainian then spoke of massacres that Poland had also committed against his compatriots.

When asked, Melnyk goes on to say: "There is no evidence that Bandera's troops murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews." There were stories by the Russian side, but that was not correct, Melnyk insisted.

The well-known pianist Igor Levit was upset by the scene – on Twitter he condemned the excerpt as “hypocrisy”.

The Ukrainian ambassador is denying part of his story, Levit argues.

“He plays the ignorant.

What a denial of history.

What a tampering with history.' Then he adds: 'Shame on you.'

In the interview, Melnyk demanded evidence from journalist Jung, who read out a leaflet that Bandera is said to have distributed at the time (»Muscovites, Poles, Hungarians and Jews are your enemies, destroy them!«).

Then he says again: "I don't understand how one can call someone a hero who was a mass murderer of Jews and Poles at the same time." Melnyk replies that Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles.

“I'm not going to tell you today that I'm distancing myself from it.

And that's it!«, the ambassador finally said.

Dealing with Bandera has been reflecting the rifts between Russia and Ukraine for years.

Ukrainian nationalists who fought for independence in the early 1930s and 1950s are still referred to in Russia as supporters of the "fascists."

In Ukraine, on the other hand, partisans like Bandera are revered today.

The assessment is delicate: There is a broad consensus among historians that his "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists" was fascist and racist, as a prominent leader he took responsibility - at the same time Bandera's personal participation in the genocide is not proven, said Melnyk.

Provocative worship

The ambassador has long been provocative with his admiration for the nationalist leader.

Immediately after taking office in 2015, he laid flowers at Bandera's grave, and after the start of the Ukraine war he tweeted against everyone who denounced this hero worship.

In the same year, Ukraine passed the decommunization law »On the Legal Status and Worship of the Fighters for Ukrainian Independence in the 20th Century«, which reinterpreted the role of nationalist partisans as freedom fighters for a sovereign Ukraine.

However, the Bandera cult was not able to develop without restrictions: although it found many followers in western Ukraine, it has been rejected to this day in central and eastern Ukraine.

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Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-06-30

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