U.S. Holocaust museum concerned over new Ukrainian legislation


(JTA) — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum expressed concern over two legislative initiatives adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament.

One measure adopted last month establishes an official government commemoration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which murdered thousands of Jews in the 1940s. Another bans Communist and Nazi propaganda and symbols.

The legislation is an “attempt to legislate how the history of Ukraine should be discussed and written, especially regarding the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA),” said a statement issued last week by the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.

The popularity of UPA, which for a time collaborated with the Nazi occupation to further UPA’s ambitions of sovereignty from Russia, has soared in Ukraine since a 2013 revolution that led to armed conflict with pro-Russian militias in Ukraine’s east.

The law prohibiting the symbols does not apply to academia, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Enormous suffering was inflicted on Ukrainians and minorities, especially Jews and Poles, from 1917 to 1991 under Soviet and German control, according to the museum. During the periods of control, the ruling countries dictated the narrative of Ukrainian history to suit their needs.

After Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, it opened its archives to scholars in order to study its history.

“As Ukraine advances on its difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion and politicizes the study of history,” the museum statement said. “Ukrainian democracy must continue on the path of unfettered scholarly research and open debate on all aspects of the national past.”

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