Ukrainian Charity Accused of ‘ethnic Incitement’

Ultranationalist lawmakers in a western Ukrainian city demanded the arrest of members of a Jewish charity over a Holocaust film screening.

Members of Svoboda, or the Freedom Party, in the Lvov City Council requested that the regional prosecutor’s office open an inquiry leading to criminal charges against members of the Lvov Hesed Ariye organization, according to a report posted Dec. 18 on the party’s Web site, svoboda.lviv.ua.

The petition focuses on the Nov. 3 screening and discussion of “Two Tangos,” a film about the Holocaust in Ukraine which maintains that the majority of Jews in Lvov were massacred by Nazis with the assistance of local collaborators. The petition says the movie “offends the dignity” of the Lvov community in general and the Freedom Party in particular.

The council members accuse the Hesed Ariye representatives of ethnic incitement and add that many Jewish Soviet officials were responsible for the Holodomor famine of 1932-33.

Council member Ivan Grynda called the screening and discussion “anti-Ukrainian” and “an anti-state provocation organized by Hesed Ariye,” claiming that the film and Hesed representatives inaccurately depicted Ukrainians as playing an integral role in the extermination of the Lvov Jewish community in 1941.

Freedom Party council members demanded criminal charges against the Jewish organization based on a state law prohibiting ethnic incitement, since Hesed Ariye distributed the film to a Lvov state Polish language school and other state schools in the city.

The party, which is led by Oleh Tyahnybok, a deputy of the Lvov Regional Council, espouses a policy of ethnic proportional representation.

In 2006-07, the Freedom Party mounted a political campaign in Western Ukraine calling for “Ukraine for the Ukrainians!” Freedom Party literature and papers said that too much of the nation’s wealth belongs to non-Ukrainians. In a speech July 1,Tyahnybok called for “merciless” action against Jews and Russians who seize power in Ukraine.

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