About 1,000 ultranationalists and far-right extremists staged a march through the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on New Year’s Day, drawing a sharp rebuke from Israel’s ambassador to the former Soviet republic.
The march last Friday was held to mark the 112th birthday of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist leader whose paramilitary organization fought alongside Nazi Germany during World War II. Bandera’s Ukrainian National Militia participated in the massacre of Jews and Poles throughout western Ukraine, including the slaughter of 6,000 Jews in the city of Lviv — Bandera’s place of birth — shortly after its capture by the Germans in 1941.
Organized by the far-right Svoboda party, the march commemorating Bandera passed peacefully, local media reported.
Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine condemned the display.
“We strongly condemn any glorification of collaborators with the Nazi regime. It is time for Ukraine to come to terms with its past,” Joel Lion, the Israeli envoy, declared on Twitter.
Lion has called out previous instances of the glorification of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine, among them the events held to commemorate Bandera in Jan. 2020.
On that occasion, Lion issued a joint statement with Bartosz Cichotsk — Poland’s envoy in Kiev — protesting a banner honoring Bandera that was on display at the offices of Kiev’s city administration.
Separately, the head of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky, recently condemned a “neo-Nazi” music festival that took place in the city on December 11. It was headlined by the band M8L8TX, which may be translated as “Hitler’s Hammer,” according to Dolinsky.