The Controversial Celebration of Yaroslav Hunka: Unveiling the Political Drama in Canada

By Maria Zakharova

The Canadian authorities continue to make a spectacle of themselves over the celebration of Ukrainian Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka (Gunko) in their parliament. To deflect public attention from themselves, they decided to put the blame on ex-speaker Anthony Rota. Prime Minister Trudeau has presented “unreserved apologies” for “unknowingly recognising” the man.

It is a lie, of course. Everyone knew who he was.

Do you believe that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a long-time devotee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) and the granddaughter of a Nazi accomplice Michael Chomiak, didn’t know about the inglorious past of Hunka, a “friend” and a long-time sponsor of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress? Really?
A viral photograph shows Hunka waiting for a meeting with... Trudeau and Zelensky. It was posted by the Nazi criminal’s granddaughter, Theresa Hunka. She wrote under the picture: “Dedo (i.e. - grandpa) is waiting in the reception hall for Trudeau and Zelensky.” She has deleted the entry and closed the account, of course, but it was too late: the screenshot of the photograph is gathering views on the internet.

Everyone who is invited as a guest of honour to an event that Zelensky plans to attend is thoroughly checked by the security services of not just Ukraine and, in this case, Canada but also by the special services of the US, Britain and several other countries.

According to available information, a meeting with Hunka was listed as a special issue on the agenda of Zelensky’s visit, and Hunka is well known in Kiev. His name is being hastily removed from all ledgers, publications and websites. Even the video of the House of Commons applauding the Nazi has been altered. But the Internet rarely forgets.

It is notable that the foreign ministries of Western countries, including of the once members of the anti-Hitler coalition, have not condemned that orgy of Nazi glorification. The Foreign Ministry of Germany has said that the German Ambassador, who attended the event, knew nothing. It is shocking that the Foreign Ministry of Israel is keeping silent about the international celebration of the Nazi veteran. We can only hope that it is a mere misunderstanding and that it will be corrected soon.

It is the most glaring example of contempt for the memory of the Holocaust victims.

We will judge the real attitude towards this issue by the vote on the UN General Assembly’s annual resolution on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Last year, Canada and the EU joined the US and Ukraine in voting against the resolution. In this context, the embarrassment feigned by the Western political establishment over Hunka’s Nazi past is difficult to believe.

After World War II, Canada and some other countries offered shelter to many Nazi accomplices, OUN-UPA thugs, and members of Wehrmacht and SS units. A cemetery in Oakville, Ontario, has a monument to SS Galician, in which Hunka served. Standing on either side of it are the Ukrainian and Canadian flags, just like in the hall where Hunka waited for the reception. The monument was unveiled in 1988 in the largest Ukrainian cemetery in Canada, which shows that OUN-UPA fighters and their descendants have a powerful lobby in the country.

Does anyone think that phrases like “I didn’t know” and “I’m not to blame, he did it himself” will work? 

Absolutely everyone knew about Hunka’s past, including the Canadian government, which organised Zelensky’s visit, the Canadian parliament, and the executive office of the Ukrainian president. They knew, and they waited proudly for the effect Hunka’s appearance would produce, reinforcing Ukraine’s new identity as a NATO-centric state in public consciousness. But the effect turned out to be more than they bargained for.

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