This issue was pasted as a link on my Facebook page by a dear friend living in Kyiv. I read the letter from the Vaad of Ukraine and was alarmed. The letter was sent as a response to a letter posted by Congressman Ro Khanna, (D-CA-17).
In doing some basic research in Congressman Khanna, I found he has fallen susceptible to Russian propaganda previously. Did California’s Ro Khanna get duped by Russia’s propaganda? Once is a problem. Twice is a tragedy. More than likely look to a staffer in his office who is being fed Russian propaganda.
I got to the fourth line of Congressman Khanna’s letter and could certify Russian propaganda influence: “The groups and individuals extolled by Ukraine include Nazi collaborators Stepan Bandera,…” The only people who call Bandera a Nazi collaborator are the Russians, and they say it often. Bandera, you see, was a long-time Ukraine nationalist who fought first against Poland, then against the Nazis, then against the Soviet Union, all for the sake of seeking Ukrainian sovereignty and independence. To do that he chose sides, and as the side occupying Ukraine changed, so did his partnerships. Bandera continued fighting against the Soviet Union until he was assassinated by KGB agent Bohdan Stashynsky in Munich, approved by Soviet KGB head Alexander Shelepin and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (The Poison Pistol, TIME Magazine, 1 December 1961).
Then the letter begins referring to the Azov Battalion. Russia has been mischaracterizing this battalion since 2013 in their propaganda, and probably before. When the letter refers to Neo-nazis and the Azov battalion, there is no doubt, this letter is a product of Russian propaganda.
The Congressman is doubling down on the Russian propaganda when he refers to the Azov Battalion. Whoever is feeding him this disinformation needs to be figuratively shot.
The bottom line, the letter published by Congressman Ro Khanna and co-signed by 57 other Congressmen begins and ends with an issue which we all support, Rep. Khanna Leads Bipartisan members In Condemning Anti-Semitism In Europe The middle of the letter and the bulk, is based entirely on Russian propaganda. Congressman Khanna, I suggest you retract, revise and/or rethink that letter in its entirety. This is not the first time you’ve been accused of falling prey to Russian propaganda. Someone in your office is most likely at fault and needs to be censured.
Endnote. I called the Congressman’s Press Office and sensitized them to the issue from the Ukraine Vaad. I then sent them a copy of what they wrote. I will now send a copy of this blog to their office as well. I am praying the person that initially reads and perhaps screens this blog will realize that I am a Russian Information Warfare expert and I do know what I am talking about.
First, the Vaad of Ukraine’s response. Read it first and you’ll see my cause for alarm. This is followed by the original letter from Congressman Khanna and signed by 57 Congressmen.
Statement of the Presidium of the Vaad of Ukraine
in Response to the Letter of US Congressmen Concerning Anti-Semitism in Poland and Ukraine
Democratic Party Congressman Ro Khanna has recently published a letter dated April 23 on his personal website. The fifty-seven congressional representatives who signed the letter express their dismay over anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Most of the letter though focuses on Ukraine.
The letter raised a wide social resonance. It was quoted, discussed and commented upon by many mass media in Ukraine and abroad.
To begin with, the letter contains a whole number of statements that do not correspond to reality as well as incorrect formulations of phrases.
The very first paragraph contains a statement that clearly contradicts reality, alleging “state-sponsored Holocaust distortion and denial taking place in… Ukraine”. This accusation is absurd. We are unaware of any facts when the Ukrainian state would support the denial of the Holocaust in any form. We doubt that any of the congressmen who signed the letter could name a fact like that, too.
In the post-Soviet space, Ukraine makes the greatest effort to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims through teaching, researching, and memorialization. The state often joins this process, while local authorities give some very powerful examples of it.
The congressmen mention Poland’s new law making it a criminal offense to state that Poland as a state and Poles as a nation participated in the Holocaust (which, in our opinion, is totally misinterpreted in the letter). Along with it, they state, “Ukraine’s 2015 memory laws went even further by glorifying Nazi collaborators and making it a criminal offense to deny their “heroism”.“ This statement does not correspond to reality either. The Law of Ukraine Of the Legal Status and Honoring the Memory of Fighters for Ukraine’s Independence in the 20th Century says nothing about anyone’s heroism and suggests no responsibility for its denial. We can even dispute the interpretation of this Law as glorifying anything. In reality, the Law states the obvious – the fact that fighters for Ukraine’s independence fought for Ukraine’s independence. Neither does the Law make any collaborationist units part of its list of dozens of organizations and groups; it never mentions such units as the Galicia Division of the SS or the Nachtigall Abwehr Battalion, for example. The author of the letter seems to have responded to the image of this Law in distorted interpretation rather than reading its text himself.
The policy of historical memory in today’s Ukraine is undergoing a difficult process of formation and the field is open for discussions. The Law of the UPNP on Decommunization of Academic Historical Science causes a lot of critical remarks, which only confirms the openness of Ukraine, her civil society, education and science. And do not imagine that the Ukrainian society as a whole monolithically supports all the government decisions.
The letter implies however that its authors consider the Ukrainian Insurgent Army “Nazi collaborators”, which of course is a freer interpretation of reality than one supported not only by historians but also by politicians.
The statement of the congressmen that «Nazi glorification in Ukraine is government-supported» is as much defamation of Ukraine as their statement of «state-sponsored Holocaust… denial».
The letter however speaks of the «state-sponsored Holocaust revisionism in Ukraine» as an irrefutable fact, moving on to the next subject – the statement that it “is accompanied by other forms of anti-Semitism”. Then, quoting Israel’s Department of Diaspora Affairs’ report, the congressmen state that “the whitewashing of these Ukrainian “heroes” has coincided with the increasing incidence of anti-Semitism across Ukraine”. The report of Naftali Bennet’s office did speak of a twofold rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine in 2017 as compared to the previous year.
Unfortunately, the congressmen rely on unreliable data. Israel’s Department of Diaspora Affairs conducted no monitoring of its own. In compiling their report, they relied on disparate stories in the mass media and social networks, so their report cannot be taken as a serious source of true information. In order to obtain true and full information on anti-Semitic manifestations in Ukraine please turn to the monitoring of the Vaad of Ukraine. And our monitoring has registered no negative dynamics. Suffice it to say, not a single anti-Semitic incident of violence was registered in Ukraine throughout the year of 2017. Meanwhile, dozens of anti-Semitic attacks took place in many countries of Western Europe and the USA.
The results of the monitoring and analysis of anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine offered by the Vaad of Ukraine for the past 15 years become the basis of official reports of the US Department of State and the OSCE.
Apart from statements that do not correspond to reality, incorrect interpretations and use of false information, the letter surprises us with its surfacing at this particular time. The main part of the letter is devoted to discussing the laws of 2015 and their consequences. Please note that no significant changes in this area and no rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine have been registered lately. Concerning Poland, certain actualization is linked to the adoption of an amendment to the Law Of the Institute of National Memory in early February 2018 (which is also a bit late for such a reaction now).
We can certainly make no true guesses as to what made Congressman Ro Khanna, who had never before paid any special attention to the developments in Eastern Europe, start speaking actively in support of the Russian foreign policy from approximately early March 2018. It is however obvious that his turning to the problems of “Ukrainian anti-Semitism” should be taken in precisely this context.
On top of that, one may recall that when American congressmen wrote similar letters in 2009 and 2013, they were initiated by political technologists working for the Kremlin. This we can be sure of. And although we have no (perhaps, not yet) information as to who prompted the writing of this letter (for Ro Khanna is unlikely to have personally written it) and how exactly its signing was lobbied, we believe it quite possible that its appearance is part of a new wave of anti-Ukrainian propaganda of anti-Semitic speculations.
In connection with everything written above, the Vaad of Ukraine deems it necessary to state that:
– the letter signed by the congressmen contains statements and false accusations that do not correspond to reality;
– contrary to the letter, there is no state-sponsored Holocaust denial or heroization of the Nazis in Ukraine;
– there is no essential rise in anti-Semitism in Ukraine – not a single incident of anti-Semitic violence has been registered in Ukraine in the past two years.
We consider this letter to be a piece of anti-Ukrainian defamation which is already in use by the propaganda sector of Russian Federation’s hybrid war on Ukraine.
We urge all those interested in getting true information on anti-Semitism in Ukraine to turn to the Vaad of Ukraine for it.
Presidium of the Vaad of Ukraine
Kiev, May 9, 2018
The Congressman’s letter is below.
Release: Rep. Khanna Leads Bipartisan members In Condemning Anti-Semitism In Europe (Edited to remove all Caps)
Washington, DC – Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) are leading more than 50 House Republicans and Democrats in pushing for the U.S. Department of State to exert diplomatic pressure on Ukraine and Poland for recent in incidents of state-sponsored Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
“We urge you to join us and human rights organizations in standing against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance by calling for the Polish and Ukrainian governments to unequivocally reject Holocaust distortion and the honoring of Nazi collaborators and fully prosecute anti-Semitic crimes,” the Members wrote in a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. “We also ask that you detail what steps are being taken by the United States (U.S.) government to monitor instances of Holocaust distortion and ensure that the U.S. is not supporting or funding groups and individuals that promote or justify anti-Semitism. We believe these steps must include a firm request that these offensive laws be repealed.”
“Our government should be concerned with the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Ukraine and Poland. Both countries recently passed laws glorifying Nazi collaborators and denying the Holocaust,” said Rep. Khanna. “The State Department must use all available diplomatic channels to work with the Ukrainian and Polish government to combat the rise of this hateful ideology which has historically threatened peace and security in the region.”
The full text of the letter is embedded below and a PDF copy is available here.
April 23, 2018
The Honorable John Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Deputy Secretary Sullivan:
We write to express our dismay about recent reports of state-sponsored Holocaust distortion and denial taking place in Europe, particularly in Poland and Ukraine. These developments are unacceptable, especially given today’s global surge of anti-Semitism.
We urge you to join us and human rights organizations in standing against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance by calling for the Polish and Ukrainian governments to unequivocally reject Holocaust distortion and the honoring of Nazi collaborators and fully prosecute anti-Semitic crimes. We also ask that you detail what steps are being taken by the United States (U.S.) government to monitor instances of Holocaust distortion and ensure that the U.S. is not supporting or funding groups and individuals that promote or justify anti-Semitism. We believe these steps must include a firm request that these offensive laws be repealed.
While the legal questions and historical contexts of Ukraine and Poland differ, developments in both countries are cause for concern. Earlier this year, Warsaw passed a law making it a criminal offense to state that Poland participated in the Holocaust. The law, which was rightfully criticized by the U.S. State Department, the Israeli government, and others, was accompanied by a surge of anti-Semitic remarks. The Israeli Embassy in Warsaw reported being flooded by anti-Semitic vitriol, while members of the Polish Jewish community expressed concern at rising tensions in the wake of the law. Despite Polish President Andrzej Duda’s assurances that the law would not be used to stifle free speech, a lawsuit has already been filed against an Argentinian newspaper using this law; Jan Dziedziczak, the Deputy Director of the Polish Foreign Ministry, has demanded that Israel change an exhibit in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; and an Israeli mayor was forced to cancel a commemoration ceremony after he refused local authorities’ demands to remove references to Polish complicity in the Holocaust from his speech.
Ukraine’s 2015 memory laws went even further by glorifying Nazi collaborators and making it a criminal offense to deny their “heroism.” However, unlike the Polish law, this move by the government in Kyiv has received little to no public response from the United States. The groups and individuals extolled by Ukraine include Nazi collaborators Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych, and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), as well as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). These paramilitaries and individuals in some cases collaborated with the Nazis and bear responsibility for the murder of thousands of Jews, 70,000-100,000 Poles, and other ethnic minorities between 1941 and 1945.
It’s particularly troubling that much of the Nazi glorification in Ukraine is government-supported. Examples include the 2017 pro-UPA campaign conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory; the naming of streets after Bandera and Shukhevych by the Kyiv city council; and L’viv’s 2017 “ShukhevychFest” which took place on the anniversary of the 1941 L’viv Pogroms in which 4000 Jews were killed.
State-sponsored Holocaust revisionism in Ukraine is accompanied by other forms of anti-Semitism. As Israel’s Department of Diaspora Affairs pointed out in its annual report on anti-Semitism, the whitewashing of these Ukrainian “heroes” has coincided with the increasing incidence of anti-Semitism across Ukraine. This includes desecration of Holocaust memorials and Jewish places of worship, such as the desecration of a holy tomb in Uman with a swastika-carved pig’s head; a January 2017 march in honor of Bandera, during which participants chanted “Jews Out!”; as well as last summer’s firebombing of a L’viv synagogue during “ShukhevychFest.”
Last November, Radio Free Europe reported on the presence of torches and Nazi salutes at a 20,000-person march in honor of the 75th anniversary of the UPA. These torchlight marches are closely linked to organizations such as the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, an armed group that was prohibited from receiving U.S. weapons and training by the recently signed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. Rather than disband Azov, the government incorporated it into the Ukrainian National Guard overseen by the Ministry of the Interior. The group is widely known to be closely connected to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.
The deeply troubling actions by Poland and Ukraine have been repeatedly condemned by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, the World Jewish Congress, Yad Vashem, and the Israeli government.
As members of the U.S. Congress, we have steadfastly supported Poland’s and Ukraine’s quest to build democratic nations. However, we are deeply concerned that the rise of anti-Semitism and denial of the past will stymie these countries’ democratic development and prevent Poland and Ukraine from becoming a free and open societies for all their citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. The developments in these two countries, while particularly egregious, must also be taken in context of a rise in glorification of Holocaust-era officials throughout Europe, including Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Baltic States. This is a troubling trend that must elicit a strong response from our government.
Therefore, we respectfully request that you respond to our serious concerns with a detailed description of what actions the State Department is taking to work with the Polish and Ukrainian governments, and other governments in the region, to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial and distortion.
Additionally, at this moment that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial is increasing around the world, we ask that you immediately appoint someone for the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism. The longer this position, which has worldwide reach, sits unfilled, the more it sends the message that the U.S. will tolerate anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Moreover, we recognize the important work that is carried out by the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, and ask that you ensure that his office has the resources necessary to meet the growing challenges in this arena.
The United States must assume a leadership position by firmly standing against anti-Semitism and ensuring that our Eastern European allies continue to develop democracies that are fair and just to all.
We thank you for your attention to this important matter.
About the Office
Congressman Khanna represents the 17th District of California, which covers communities in Silicon Valley. Visit his website at khanna.house.gov. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RepRoKhanna.
Press Office: 202-225-2631