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Canada House Speaker apologizes for honoring Nazi-linked veteran during Zelensky visit

The incident cast a shadow over Mr. Zelensky’s visit aimed at rallying Western support for the war in Ukraine.

Russia used the pretext of “denazification” of Ukraine to justify its invasion, even though the country is led by Mr. Zelensky, a Jewish president who lost loved ones in the Holocaust.

To support these claims, Moscow has relied on controversial elements of Ukrainian history, such as when nationalist forces allied with the Nazis in an effort to expel the Soviets and gain Ukrainian sovereignty.

Reports of Mr. Hunka’s presence in Canada’s House of Commons were quickly spread by Russian state media.

Moscow’s ambassador to Canada, Oleg Stepanov, said she would write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.

The Speaker of the House of Commons said “no one,” including his fellow MPs, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Zelensky’s delegation, was aware of his intention to recognize Mr. Hunka or his planned remarks.

Mr. Trudeau’s office also stressed that the prime minister was “not informed in advance” of the president’s plans, and said Mr. Rota’s apology was “the right thing to do.”

The Ukrainian First Division was composed primarily of ethnic Ukrainian volunteers in German-occupied territory and was under the control of leading Nazi Party member Heinrich Himmler.

According to a history of the division written by Myroslav Shkandrij, a professor at the University of Manitoba, “the main motivation” for joining the division in 1943 was “to fight Stalin, Russia and Bolshevism, and to create a formation soldier who would fight for the independence of Ukraine.

Michael Mostyn, CEO of the Jewish organization B’nai Brith Canada, said it was outrageous that Parliament would honor a former member of a Nazi unit.

He said Ukrainian “ultra-nationalist ideologues” who volunteered for the division of Galicia “endorsed the idea of ​​ethnic cleansing.”

Mr. Hunka could not immediately be reached for comment.


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