For the first time the nationalist Svoboda or Freedom party will be represented in Ukraine’s parliament.
The movement which has links with foreign far-right groups like France’s National Front has been accused of anti-Semitism. Their election showing has raised concerns among the Jewish community.
“Unfortunately I have read their speeches and statements not once but many times. So I do not need any proof that they are anti-Semitic,” said Rabbi Pynchas Vyshedski.
More than 800,000 Jews were killed in Ukraine during the Second World War. There remains deep ties with Israel where there is anger at Svoboda’s success, winning parliamentary seats.
“We don’t understand why they gave them the opportunity to go to the election, we understand the democracy of Ukraine but this kind of partiy ought to be out of parliament,” explained
Alex Miller head of inter-parliamentary Ukrainian-Israeli committee.
Oleh Tyahnybok was expelled from the centre right Our Ukrainian party eight years ago. In a speech he referred to Jews as being among the enemies of Ukraine.
He now heads Svoboda but rejects the allegation his party is anti-Semitic.
“I would like to address once again the high ranking officials of the state of Israel: we respect your patriotic feelings, the patriotic feelings of your citizens. Please do respect in return the same feelings for the citizens of Ukraine and respect the right of Ukrainians to express freely their will,” he said.
Tayhnabok and his party has forged links with other political groups including that of Yulia Tymoshenko and could be set to be part of a coalition in the forthcoming legislation.
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