Ambassador Melnyk is under pressure because of statements about the Ukrainian nationalist leader Bandera. Now, for the first time, he has commented on the accusation that he downplayed the Holocaust. As expected, he denies all allegations. They are "absurd".
Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk has denied allegations that his comments about Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera downplayed the Holocaust. "Anyone who knows me knows: I have always condemned the Holocaust in the strongest possible terms," Melnyk wrote on Twitter. The allegations against him are "absurd".
Bandera was the leader of the radical wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during World War II. Nationalist partisans from western Ukraine were responsible for ethnically motivated expulsions in 1943, in which tens of thousands of Polish and Jewish civilians were murdered. Bandera fled to Germany after World War II, where he was murdered in 1959 by an agent of the Soviet secret service, the KGB.
In an interview with journalist Tilo Jung, Melnyk defended Bandera and said: "Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles." According to Melnyk, the character Banderas was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union. The Israeli embassy then accused the ambassador of "distorting historical facts, playing down the Holocaust and insulting those who were murdered by Bandera and his people".
Melnyk responded to this with a tweet, which he expressly addressed to "dear Jewish fellow citizens". The Nazi crimes of the Holocaust are a common tragedy of Ukraine and Israel, he wrote. According to media reports, Melnyk is to be recalled and move to the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv.
The "Bild" newspaper, citing several sources in Kyiv, reported that the Foreign Ministry had proposed this to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The 46-year-old could still change in the fall. Melnyk could become deputy foreign minister, the newspaper wrote. The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" also reported, citing circles of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, that Melnyk is to leave his post in Berlin and move to the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv.