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Clinton Indirectly Legitimizing Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Party?

Clinton under fire for indirectly legitimizing Ukrainian opposition party that entered into a parliamentary alliance with neo-Nazi party.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 11/6/2012, 12:20 PM

Oleg Tyagnibok, head of the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Freedom) party,
Oleg Tyagnibok, head of the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Freedom) party,
Reuters

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has criticized the Ukrainian Opposition Party of Yulia Tymoshenko for having signed a parliamentary alliance that gave legitimacy to a far-right extremist party well known for its anti-Semitic views.

ADL National Director, Abraham Foxman issued a statement in which he expressed "alarm" at the strong electoral support for the neo-Nazi Svoboda (Freedom) party of Ukraine at last Sunday's parliamentary elections. 

"Anti-Semitic rhetoric has been a mainstay of Svoboda's leaders and campaign slogans," Foxman said.

The party made surprise gains in Sunday’s national elections, obtaining 12% of the votes and securing 41 seats in the Ukrainian parliament, enabling it to enter parliament for the first time.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has also come under fire from Jewish groups for having penned an op-ed published in The New York Times last week for praising Tymoahenko, leader of the opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party.

Clinton previously wrote a letter on behalf of Tymoshenko, who was convicted in October of last year for allegedly signing a disadvantageous deal for supplies of Russian natural gas to Ukraine when she was in office in 2010.

In the letter Clinton wrote that Tymoshenko should be “immediately and unconditionally released, as well as other former members of your government,” thus indirectly assisting in the legitimization of a party on the fringes of Ukraine politics that has never won a seat in parliament before.

Foxman singled out Tymoshenko for her cynical political alliance with a neo-fascist party, saying, "It is of particular concern that the opposition party of Yulia Tymoshenko has signed a cooperation agreement with Svoboda, giving great credibility to this fringe extremist political party."

The ADL said in a statement yesterday that Oleh Tyahnybok, Tymoshenko's new ally as head of Svoboda, "just yesterday confirmed his long-standing claim that Ukraine is ruled by a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" and that "Ukraine should finally be given to Ukrainians" and should exclude hundreds of thousands of Jewish Ukrainians.

Tyahnybok "has called Jews 'occupiers' of Ukraine and has lauded the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a nationalist militia in WWII, for killing Jews," the ADl said in a statement.

In addition, the ADL stated that, "Svoboda has organized demonstrations against Jewish pilgrimages to Hassidi Jewish holy sites in Ukraine, and its officials have tried to prevent Holocaust education films from being shown in Ukraine schools."

The New York Times reported on October 29th that the Svoboda party's "influence is likely to be even bigger than its share of the vote because of a cooperation agreement that it signed with Mrs. Tymoshenko's Fatherland party."

Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also denounced the agreement, alluding to the deaths of millions of Jews on Ukrainian soil during the Holocaust.

"Anti-Semitic insults by Svoboda have caused outrage on a number of occasions both in Ukraine and in Israel," Lieberman said. "The expression of such views reminds of the darkest pages in the history of the last century that has led humanity to the tragedy of the Second World War."