Ukraine Chief Rabbi Protests Bandera’s Honor
KYIV — Ukraine's Jewish community is outraged by the decision to confer the title of Hero of Ukraine posthumously on the nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, with Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Asman of Ukraine and Kyiv telling Segodnia newspaper he would give up his Order of Merit in protest. RISU’s Ukrainian-language web site posted this story on February 2, 2010.
"The chief rabbi has asked our lawyers to find out how the order could be returned from a legal point of view," Asman's aide David Milman told Interfax on Tuesday.
Asman was elected Ukraine's chief rabbi at a meeting of the Jewish communities on September 11, 2005.
"This position is shared by the entire Jewish community. Everyone is outraged. [Outgoing President] Viktor Yushchenko could not venture this step as long as he was hoping to remain president," he said.
"This award is a call for war, as war was Bandera's credo," Milman said.
Yushchenko conferred the title of Hero of Ukraine, one of the country's highest honors, on Bandera on January 22 – the Day of Unity. This title had earlier been conferred on the Commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Roman Shukhevych.
According to JTA news, the posthumous honor for Bandera was protested by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, as well as other regional Jewish organizations.
The Ukrainian nationalist forces led by Bandera fought against both the Nazis and the Soviet army in World War II, and led an armed battle against Soviet rule in Ukraine into the 1950s.
Bandera was assassinated by a KGB agent in Munich in 1959.
According to Zaxid.net, http://www.zaxid.net/newsua/2010/2/2/113201/ a Russian historian, Borys Sokolov, said on the air of the Russian edition of Radio Freedom that the leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army took no part at all in the genocide of Jews and their units were not involved in it by any means. He also mentioned that in fact there were many Jewish doctors and fighters in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.