An anti-Semitic party has gained strength in Ukraine and has managed to pass the electoral threshold.
The Svoboda (Freedom) party won 12% of the votes in Sunday’s elections and is expected to have anywhere from 21 to 37 seats in the 450-seat parliament. According to AFP report, Ukraine’s ruling party, the Regions Party of President Viktor Yanukovych, led the vote with 28.1%, the Fatherland alliance came in second with 24%, and third place was held by the new UDAR (Punch) party with 15% of the vote.
Svoboda’s leader, Oleg Tyagnybok, is known for his rants against Russians, homosexuals and Jews, AFP noted. A report in Haaretz said that several complaints have been filed against Tyagnybok on charges of incitement to violence and racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
Members of the party are responsible for anti-Semitic incidents, including setting fire to synagogues and Jewish cultural centers and vandalizing Jewish cemeteries throughout the Ukraine, said the report.
In an article published several days before the Ukraine elections, the Ma’ariv newspaper quoted Svoboda leader Tyagnybok as having said, “We should salute those who fought for the liberation of Ukraine. Respect to the army that fought against the Germans, the Russians, the Jew-boys and other pollutants that wanted to conquer our country. It’s time to return Ukraine to the Ukrainians. We need to bring an end to the reign of the Russian mafia and the Jew-boys.”
Several weeks later, reported Ma’ariv, Tyagnybok was asked whether he regrets his remarks, to which he responded, “I do not apologize for anything. I spoke against all those who occupied the Ukraine, and I mean the Germans, the Russians and the Jew-boys. It is known that those who are not Ukrainians have no emotional connection to our land.”
Svoboda has also expressed its objection to the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in Uman.
In June, a Jewish cemetery was vandalized in the city of Rivne in western Ukraine. Vandals broke street lights and desecrated a plaque in the memory of 17,500 Ukrainian Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
In March of this year, a Holocaust memorial was desecrated in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
In April, a Ukrainian yeshiva student was attacked by anti-Semites as he left a synagogue in Kiev. He was left with life-threatening injuries, but regained consciousness after receiving treatment in Israel in what doctors termed a miraculous recovery.