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Jews protest Ukrainian nationalism honors

Protesters staged a rally against state ceremonies in Ukraine honoring its World War II-era nationalist army and general.

Several hundred thousand Ukrainians took part in ceremonies throughout the country Sunday commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the 100th birthday of Gen. Roman Shukhevich, who fought alongside the Nazis.

The army battled Soviet forces during World War II, and for several years afterward carried out raids against the Soviets to disrupt efforts to collectivize farms.

Left-wing organizations demonstrated outside Kiev’s Ukraine Palace during the memorial events. Commemorating the partisans worried many in the Jewish community.

“This approach is unacceptable for a modern democratic state,” said Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, one of the chief rabbis of Kiev and Ukraine. “People must remember that Shukhevich fought not only against aggressors but also against human beings.”

President Viktor Yuschenko urged Ukraine’s parliament to recognize the insurgent army and Shukhevich as freedom fighters. He bestowed the posthumous rank of Hero of Ukraine, a top Ukrainian honor, on Shukhevich.

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