As we sit in our office in Brussels, Ukrainian politics seems far away. As we benefit of our EU membership, the troubles of countries outside of the 28 member states are hard to grasp: we’re not sufficiently familiar with the political actors, with the daily discourse, with the pressing issues. Yet what is happening in Ukraine these days must not be ignored – the outrageous rise in far-right, violent ultra-nationalism should worry us all.
Following the brutal destruction of a Roma settlement outside of Kiev just a few days ago, we now hear Tatiana Sojkina, the Head of the Ukrainian Party’s Pravy Sector for the Odessa Region calling for the [ethnic] “cleaning” of Ukraine. “Ukraine will be owned by Ukrainians, not by Jews and oligarchs!” Sojkina preached to the over 1000 people gathered for the march that took place earlier today (03 May 2018).
Such statements are not only racist and antisemitic – playing on old stereotypes of Jewish world conspiracy and financial control, but also a clear incitement to violence – which is illegal under Ukrainian law.
We call on Ukrainian authorities to take action against this prominent public figure, who through her large public platform is able to influence thousands of Ukrainian citizens every day. We also emphasize the importance of adopting the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism that clearly defines the insinuation that Jews are oligarchs with special financial power as a biased one.
Finally, we call on all of us for whom Ukraine seems so far away to remember that we all share common European values, that the principles of inclusion are global and that we all should care and take a stand when fascism rears its ugly head!