Jewish Human Rights Group Denounces Authorities in Ukrainian City Over Festival Celebrating Nazi Ally
A human rights group that advocates on behalf of Jews in the successor states of the Soviet Union has condemned the local authorities in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv for sponsoring a three-day festival celebrating the life of a Nazi ally who participated in the mass murder of Jews.
In a statement on Friday, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ) slammed the Department of Culture of the Lviv municipal administration for organizing the event honoring Roman Shukhevych, a general in the Ukraine Insurgent Army (UPA) whose forces took part in anti-Jewish pogroms in the summer of 1941.
The NCSEJ had urged the Lviv authorities “to cancel this event and for all Ukrainian leaders to speak out against the undeserved glorification of Shukhevych, a direct participant in the genocide of Ukraine’s Jews.”
“We’re disappointed that this festival is going ahead in honor of someone who has blood on his hands,” NSCEJ CEO Mark Levin told The Algemeiner on Friday, after the festival opened. “This is not a person that deserves to be honored.”
The NCSEJ pointed out that the festival “coincides with the 76th anniversary of the 1941 anti-Jewish pogroms in Lviv. Ukrainian nationalists from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Nachtigall Battalion willingly participat
The Lviv pogroms erupted one week after Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa — its June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. In addition to the 4,000 Jews murdered in that outbreak of violence, another 2,000 were slaughtered in further pogroms at the end of July 1941.
Ukrainian leaders have been whitewashing Shukhevych’s reputation for at least a decade. In 2007, then-President Viktor Yushchenko posthumously conferred the country’s highest honor, “Hero of Ukraine,” on Shukhevych. Yushchenko’s response to protests from Jewish and Israeli leaders was that there was no evidence definitively linking Shukhevych with the pogroms, a position that was shared by many contemporary historians in Ukraine.
The festival in Lviv comes less than a month after a major thoroughfare in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, was renamed for Shukhevych. The avenue had previously been named for Nikolai Vatutin, a commander of Soviet troops in Ukraine during World War II.