Russia prosecutors have charged 98 year-old Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian-Canadian World War II veteran of the 14th Waffen Grenadier SS, with genocide. According to Russia, between February 23 and 28, 1944, Hunka and other members of his SS division murdered “at least 500 citizens of the USSR” in the village of Huta Pieniacka, now part of Ukraine.
The Investigative Committee of Russia charged Hunka in absentia with “genocide of civilians on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR during the Great Patriotic War” in a statement.
“Among the victims were Jews and Poles.” “People were shot and burned in their homes as well as in the church,” it continued.
The primarily Ukrainian Galicia Division was convicted guilty of war crimes by commissions in Germany and Poland, and historians believe its men participated in multiple atrocities.
According to Russia’s statement, it is considering issuing an international arrest order for Hunka, who has sought legal counsel in Canada, Poland, and Belarus.
The allegations come just a month after Hunka was honoured as a World War II hero in front of the Canadian parliament, receiving a standing ovation.
On September 22, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the House of Commons as a guest of honour, which prompted speaker Anthony Rota to quit in the face of intense criticism.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised “unconditionally” for the “terrible mistake,” but Russia seized on the incident, with Russian President Vladimir Putin using it to fuel the narrative that Ukraine’s pro-Western government is neo-Nazi and to justify Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Putin termed the standing ovations for Hunka “disgusting” and stated that they demonstrated Moscow’s right to “de-nazify” Ukraine.
Ukraine and Nazis
In Nazi Germany, the SS (Schutzstaffel) was a paramilitary organisation. While the SS was mostly made up of Germans, there were also foreign SS troops, notably several Ukrainians.
Ukrainian collaborators served in different groups and organisations throughout WWII, including the SS’s 14th Waffen Grenadier Division (1st Galician).
These units participated in military operations on the Eastern Front and are the subject of historical research and debate. It is crucial to remember that not all Ukrainians backed the Nazis, and many Ukrainians actively participated in the resistance to the German rule.
The term “Nazi” often refers to the members and philosophy of the National Socialist German Workers’ organisation, a far-right political organisation that dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler’s leadership.
The Nazi dictatorship is notorious for atrocities such as the Holocaust and the aggressiveness that led to World War II. It should be noted that the Nazis were defeated in 1945, and their ideology is widely despised and condemned.
There is no clear link between Nazism and modern Ukraine. However, Ukraine, like many other countries, has a complicated past that includes many political parties and ideologies. It is critical to avoid broad generalizations and recognise that Ukraine, like other countries, has a diversified political landscape with various political parties, ideologies, and historical events.
In recent years, Ukraine has experienced significant political upheavals and conflicts, including the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
It is critical to approach these issues with compassion and nuance, focusing on the individual events, ideologies, and political groupings at stake rather than making sweeping generalizations. If you have any specific questions or concerns about Ukraine, I would be delighted to provide facts and context to the best of my ability.