– This incident fits perfectly into Russian propaganda, experts say.
Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s visit was supposed to be a moving demonstration of Canada’s support for Ukraine. And it was too.
When the Ukrainian president attended an event in Toronto, he stayed encountered by a spontaneous eruption of the Ukrainian national anthem. But when Zelenskyj visited the Canadian Parliament, things took a turn for the worse.
During the session, Anthony Rota, the president of the National Assembly, gave a speech in which he praised a 98-year-old man present in the room.
The 98-year-old man’s name is Jaroslav Hunka. He was mentioned as a veteran who, during World War II, fought for Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Hunka was considered a hero of both Ukraine and Canada. The congregation stood and applauded the veteran.
It was just a big deal. Which would cause several major problems.
I had to go down
Jaroslav Hunka served in the 14th Grenadier Division during World War II. It was a Nazi unit. The division is also accused of war crimes, but it is, according to the BBCnever found guilty of this.
But there is no doubt that Hunka fought on the side of the Nazis during the World War. Certainly with the aim of defeating the Soviet Union, but just as fully under Hitler’s reign of terror.
It didn’t take long before the error was discovered. Rota, who had praised the veteran in Parliament, had to resign. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized.
– But then we probably won’t be able to apologize often enough, Professor Fen Hampson tells the Canadian online newspaper National Post.
Because when a link is made between Nazism, Ukraine and history, it is a state that rubs its hands. Putin says he attacked Ukraine to “denazify” the country. And the Canadian blunder fits like a glove into Russian propaganda.
A stamp hero?
“The stamp is a tribute to a Nazi who fled the Soviet Union and who, even after 91 years, does not want to return to Ukraine. Ukrainians have exploded the scale of the decline.”
It is with these words that the Russian Foreign Minister published a photo of Vkontakte (the Russian version of Facebook). It’s a photo of what looks like a postage stamp featuring the controversial 98-year-old.
Fact checkers We subsequently did not find anything similar to such a stamp in the Ukrainian post office. But that didn’t stop the news from crossing borders as evidence of Ukraine’s alleged Nazi connection.
– It’s absolutely fabricated, said Marcus Kolga. He is a researcher at the Canadian Macdonald-Laurier Institute and spoke to National Post.
But he is convinced that the stamp is just an example of what is now coming from Russia.
Will be used
One of Vladimir Putin’s declared objectives in his war of aggression is therefore to “denazify” Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainian authorities are fascists who want to attack Russia. This claim has been completely refuted.
– Right-wing extremism still exists in Ukraine, but it is a much smaller movement than Russian propaganda has tried to make you believe. The famous Canadian professor David Marples says it BBC.
He emphasizes that no Ukrainian elected official is now linked to any far-right group in the country.
Additionally, President Zelenskyj himself is of Jewish origin. Aftenposten also has documents showing how neo-Nazis actually fight alongside Putin.
Nevertheless, Russian authorities continue to claim that they are now denazifying the neighboring country.
Professor Kolga believes that for Canada and most other countries, this story will soon be over. But not in Russia:
– It’s all over Russian state media. But that’s no surprise. The incident fits perfectly into Russian propaganda. Propagandists will use it like a hammer for weeks, months, even years.
“Passionate pop cultureaholic. Proud bacon trailblazer. Avid analyst. Certified reader.”