Ukrainian Jewish leader slams security boss’ praises for anti-Semitic militia

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A leader of Ukrainian Jews accused the head of the country’s security service of targeting Jews and legitimizing a militia that killed Jews in the 1940s.

Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made the accusation on Facebook against Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, the news website evreiskiy.kiev.ua reported, after Nalyvaichenko said his organization needed to base its work on the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, which murdered thousands of Jews in the 1940s.

“Instead of creating a modern, high-tech security service, Nalyvaichenko proposes the revival of highly questionable methods from 80 years ago,” Dolinsky wrote, noting this seems to include the “attitudes and actions of UPA against the Jews and the Poles.”

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According to Yad Vashem, the men of UPA under Stephan Bandera “considered the Soviets and the Jews their main enemies.”

Dolinsky also said that several years ago, the security service under Nalyvaichenko published a list “that consisted entirely of Jewish surnames” of people allegedly responsible for the famine that killed millions in Ukraine in the 1930s.

In an interview with local media earlier this month, Nalyvaichenko said the organization he heads “does not need to invent anything new, it is important to build on the traditions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and UPA in the 1930-1950 years.”

The popularity of UPA, which for a time collaborated with the Nazi occupation to further UPA’s ambitions of sovereignty from Russia, has soared in Ukraine since the eruption of a revolution in 2013, that led to armed conflict with pro-Russian militias in Ukraine’s east.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill that opened the door to state recognition of UPA, previously a taboo because of the widespread war crimes committed by its troops.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned that bill and another bill that banned both Communist and Nazi symbols — a move that the center interpreted as equating the two regimes.