Ukrainian politicians displeased with Israeli president's speech at Verkhovna Rada
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made a number of incorrect remarks on certain Ukrainian historical events in his speech at the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, Verkhovna Rada First Deputy Speaker Iryna Gerashchenko said.
"While addressing the Ukrainian parliament, the Israeli president took the liberty of making incorrect and undiplomatic remarks on certain pages of tragic Ukrainian history, including the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN, banned in Russia]. It is a shame that the Israeli president did not hear the previous speeches of the Righteous amongst the Nations, leaders of Ukraine's Jewish communities, Ukrainian patriots, such as Academician Ivan Dziuba who was the first to call attention to the subject of Babyn Yar, all those who recalled the holy innocents and their rescuers, many of whom were average Ukrainians risking their lives and the lives of their children to save Jewish families and Jewish children," Gerashchenko said on Facebook on Wednesday.
She welcomed the fact that every "speaker from Ukraine demonstrated wisdom, respect for the memory of the victims and high political culture." "We do not hush up either heroic or dramatic or black pages in our history but there is a time and a place for every word," Gerashchenko said.
In the opinion of the Verkhovna Rada first vice-speaker, certain remarks made by the Israeli president "were inappropriate to make on the days of mourning in parliament of the country fighting for its independence."
"We expected the high-raking guest visiting the Ukrainian parliament to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It is a pity that certain leaders of modern states are still using cliches of Soviet propaganda dating back to the period when the Babyn Yar tragedy was hushed up," Gerashchenko said.
Rivlin said on September 27 in Kyiv, during parliamentary hearings entitled, 'The 75th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy, history lessons and modern age', that about 1.5 million Jews were killed in territory of Ukraine during WWII.
"In Babyn Yar and other places, they were executed in the woods, near ravines and moats, pushed into mass graves, many of the collaborators were Ukrainians, of particular prominence among them were fighters from the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, banned in Russia]," he said.
"Unfortunately, the Israeli president repeated the Soviet myth of OUN involvement in the Holocaust in his speech in the Ukrainian parliament. Tribute to the memory of Babyn Yar victims would have been more sincere without references to the myths of those who were erasing memory of them," head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Volodymyr Viatrovych said on Facebook.
Accomplices in those murders worked for the local police, which was sometimes called Ukrainian, but far from everyone was involved and far from all murderers were policemen, Viatrovych said.
"Mass murders of the Jews were 'an area' of the German Einsatzgruppen and German police," the institute director said.
He also said that the police employed not only Ukrainians but also Soviet POWs of various nationalities for whom service for the Germans was the only way to escape death. "There were OUN members amongst Ukrainian employees of the police. But far from all policemen belonged to the OUN, and far from all OUN members were the police," Viatrovych said.
In his words, some OUN policemen participated in killings of the Jews, but far from all OUN policemen did so.