Ukraine reinstates diplomat fired for anti-Semitism

Ukraine's Jewish community, Israeli ambassador outraged after court forces foreign ministry to reinstate ex-consul fired over anti-Semitism.

Ben Ariel,

Kiev
Kiev
iStock

Ukraine's Jewish community expressed indignation on Wednesday after a court decision forced the foreign ministry to reinstate an ex-consul fired last year over anti-Semitic remarks made while serving in his post.

Vasyl Marushchynets served as a Ukrainian consul in Germany's Hamburg before he was sacked in May 2018 following a series of publications the foreign ministry has deemed "shameful," anti-Semitic and "inciting inter-ethnic hate", AFP reported.

According to various media, he also made posts on his Facebook account insulting Jews and claiming that "to be a Nazi is an honor."

A photo was circulating in the media and on social networks of Marushchynets posing with a birthday cake resembling Adolf Hitler's notorious book "Mein Kampf," although AFP was unable to verify its authenticity.

The former diplomat sued over his dismissal and won in November. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said it was "bound to comply" with the ruling, but added that it will contest it in the Supreme Court.

The ministry said it considers Marushchynets' actions "incompatible with the high rank of civil servant and Ukrainian diplomat" and sees him as having caused "significant damage" to Ukraine's international image.

The ministry re-hired Marushchynets on December 9 and paid him about $9,000 in wages that would have accrued since his dismissal, spokeswoman Kateryna Zelenko told AFP on Wednesday.

The news of the reinstatement was slammed by Ukraine's Jewish community.

"It is ultra-shameful, truly an assault on common sense, if such an obvious anti-Semite and even neo-Nazi is being reinstated in diplomatic service," Iosif Zisels, a prominent Jewish activist in Ukraine, told AFP.

"I don't understand how it's possible that there are no legitimate mechanisms to prevent his reinstatement in a structure such as the foreign ministry," he added.

"A person who permits anti-Semitic and xenophobic attacks has no right to hold a diplomatic post," said Inna Ioffe, director of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.

Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Joel Lion, responded to the ruling in a letter, reported JTA.

“The State of Israel is confused by the decision of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal to reinstate Antisemitic Ukrainian diplomat Vasyl Maruschynets in his functions,” Lion wrote.

He added that Israel was “encouraged” by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s decision to appeal the ruling.

Ukraine has a history of many Jewish pogroms and anti-Semitic attacks, and has a number of ultra-right political movements and paramilitary groups

A poll published last year by Pew Research Center said five percent of Ukrainians don't accept Jews as compatriots, a figure that is one of the lowest in eastern Europe.

Last month, an unidentified group of vandals painted a swastika graffiti on the monument in Kiev honoring Sholom Aleichem, the father of Jewish literature.

In October, an effigy of a Ukrainian-Jewish billionaire covered in red paint was placed at the entrance to a synagogue in Kiev.

Before that, a graffiti image of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was found near the grave of Rabbi Nachman in the city of Uman.

In September, a Holocaust monument in Ukraine was vandalized with graffiti and a note threatening another genocide.




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