Russian embassy queries Taoiseach’s praise of Ukrainian nationalism

Legation critical of extremism personified by fascist collaborators during second World War

The Russian embassy has questioned comments made by Taoiseach Micheál Martin about Ukrainian nationalism.

Speaking at the National Famine Commemoration last weekend, Mr Martin said the Ukrainian people too bore the deep scars of hunger arising from the Holodomor of 1932-33 when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.

Millions of Ukrainian people, who resisted Soviet collectivisation, died at a time of plenty in the country.

Mr Martin said then that when the people of Ukraine voted for independence “they did so in a spirit of self-reliance and without rancour. They chose for themselves a simple flag . . . a nationalism which we and so many others can relate to.”

In a long post on its Telegram page, the embassy took issue with Mr Martin’s comments.

It said the history of Ukrainian nationalism dates back to the 18th century, but only took “extremely radical and violent forms” in the first half of the 20th century. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a fascist grouping, collaborated with the Nazis in the second World War.

The memories of Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, the two main Fascist leaders, were resurrected in post-independence Ukraine.

"As a result of the violent and illegal coup d'etat of 2014 the nationalist forces in Ukraine seized power, having made course to revisionism – deliberate distortion of the history of events, whitewashing of the Nazis' collaborationists, total rejection of historical ties with Russia and everything Russian."

This was followed by the “Ukrainisation” of the society with policies infringing the rights of the Russian speaking population, the embassy post claimed.

It also notes without irony, “as a result of a long-term campaign to introduce censorship, there has been no media left in the country, which would express any point of view that differs from the official one. As of January 2021, over 600 Internet resources were banned.”

The embassy concluded: “The question is – are the Irish and many other peoples really ready to relate to such nationalism?”

Scholz critique of Putin

President Vladimir Putin's suggestion that Ukraine needs to be "denazified" has been debunked by many historians and commentators with German chancellor Olaf Scholz saying Putin's stated aim was a "falsification" and a "cynical abuse of history".

Irish-based Ukrainian scholar and human rights lawyer Nadia Dobrianska said the embassy's comments were another attempt to "demonise any sense of nationhood among Ukrainians".

She said Banderivsti (a Nazi slur after Stepan Bandera) has been an accusation used by Russian forces in the occupation to torture and kill pro-Ukrainian men and women “supposedly because of their misguided nationalism”.

She accused the embassy of repeating Putin’s view there is really no Ukrainian nation.

“They are acting upon pure Russian imperial nationalism, trying to replace Ukrainian identity with the Russian one. This was the line of reasoning that was used in the USSR: all nationalism is bad, Soviet identity is good. But modern Russia replaced ‘Soviet’ with ‘Russian’ in this equation.”