Ukrainian politician Oleh Tyahnybok—whose politics have been compared to those of the Nazi party—has been chosen as “Personality of the Year” by the Korrespondent magazine.
Korrespondent is one of the most influential weekly news magazines in Ukraine. While the magazine does not endorse Tyahnybok—the leader of Ukraine’s far-right Svoboda party—or his views, 40 percent of readers nominated him because he is the leader of Ukraine’s opposition and regarded as one of the most charismatic figures in Ukranian politics. Many Ukrainians are disenchanted with the current government.
Nevertheless, Tyahnybok is known for his xenophobia, anti-Semitism and strongly nationalist views. Formerly a doctor, in 2005 Tyahnybok called on the Russian president to investigate “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine.”
In elections at the end of November, Svoboda won 37 seats in the Ukrainian parliament. His party’s members soon drew attention through several anti-Semitic statements. Among other things, the party claims that the word, “zhid,” a derogatory word for Jew, is an acceptable word. Previously, Jewish groups had asked the Ukrainian Justice Ministry to ban use of the word, after a member of Svoboda used the slur against American actress Mila Kunis, who is Jewish and of Ukranian descent.
The number-four man in the Svoboda party, Ihor Myroshnychenko, wrote about Kunis on his Facebook page: “She is not Ukrainian, she is a Jewess by birth. She is proud of this and the Star of David. But she says nothing and expresses nothing positive about the country in which she was born. I can’t bring myself to say she is Ukrainian. Let her love America or Israel, people must not attach her to the Ukraine!”