Andriy Melnyk during the program »Anne Will« on May 6th, 2022
Photo: IMAGO/Jürgen Heinrich
The Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk has denied the allegation that his statements about the Ukrainian partisan leader Stepan Bandera played down the Holocaust.
"Anyone who knows me knows: I have always condemned the Holocaust in the strongest possible terms," Melnyk wrote on Twitter.
The allegations against him are "absurd".
Bandera was the leader of the radical wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during World War II.
Nationalist partisans from western Ukraine were responsible for ethnically motivated expulsions in 1943, in which tens of thousands of Polish and Jewish civilians were murdered.
Bandera fled to Germany after World War II, where he was murdered in 1959 by an agent of the Soviet secret service, the KGB.
The role of Ukrainian nationalists, who fought for independence from the early 1930s to the 1950s, is now the subject of controversy, including in Ukraine, because of its fascist ties.
Bandera is internationally regarded by many as a Nazi collaborator, but in western Ukraine he is still revered to this day.
Melnyk defended Bandera
In an interview with the journalist Tilo Jung, Melnyk defended Bandera and said: "Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles." According to Melnyk, Bandera's character was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union.
The Israeli embassy then accused the ambassador of "distorting historical facts, playing down the Holocaust and insulting those who were murdered by Bandera and his people."
The ambassador reacted to this with the tweet, which he also expressly addressed to “dear fellow Jewish citizens”.
The Nazi crimes of the Holocaust are a common tragedy of Ukraine and Israel, he wrote.
Ambassadors on call?
Melnyk is apparently at the end of his time in Berlin.
As "Bild" and "Süddeutsche Zeitung" report, the Ukrainian government is planning Melnyk's return to Kyiv.
There he is to change to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, it is said.
Melnyk became known for his warnings and appeals to the German government to provide Ukraine with more arms, among other things, after the invasion.
He was repeatedly criticized for his choice of words.
When Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) initially refused a trip to the Ukraine, Melynik called him an "insulted liver sausage".
Scholz had previously said that President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's uninviting through Ukraine would stand in the way of his trip.
"That's a statement that I later regret, of course," Melnyk said later - after Scholz's trip to Kiev - in a SPIEGEL top-level discussion: "I'll apologize to him personally," he added.
The statement was "diplomatically inappropriate" and "offended many people, not only in Germany".