The Russian ambassador to Ireland has accused the Government of associating itself with a “Nazi ideology” in its support for Ukraine.
Yuriy Filatov, who has made a string of controversial comments since the war began, claimed the 2014 coup which deposed then president Viktor Yanukovych led to “ultranationalists” taking control of Ukraine.
He was responding to comments made by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin in a statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. “Ukraine’s values are EU values, Ukraine’s interests are EU interests, Ukraine’s security is the EU security,” Mr Martin said.
In a statement on the Russian embassy’s Telegram page, Mr Filatov said successive Ukrainian governments have since then been in thrall to neo-Nazis who he claimed have targeted the country’s Russian speaking population.
Mr Filatov did not mention in his article that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is Jewish or that far-right parties got just 2 per cent of the vote in the 2019 Ukrainian elections.
The ambassador went on to claim that the Ukrainian government used neo-Nazi organised paramilitary groups to target Russian speakers.
“In a totalitarian fashion it took control over national mass media, banned all opposition political parties and enforced total Ukrainianization of society, including administration, education, culture and service sectors,” he wrote.
He also claimed that the assassinated Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera collaborated with Nazis in the extermination of Jews, Poles and Russians but is a “supreme national hero, openly praised by the state authorities”.
Mr Filatov concluded: “Against such a background the only possible conclusion from the Tánaiste’s remarks is obvious – the Western political establishment, including the Irish politicians, associates itself with the remnants of Nazi ideology in an open attempt to use Ukraine’s notorious regime against Russia. So much for European ‘democratic values’.”
The ambassador last month apologised for suggesting that Éamon de Valera sent a congratulations telegram to Adolf Hitler in 1945 on his birthday. In fact, Mr de Valera made a courtesy visit to the German ambassador following Hitler’s death.
In response to Mr Filatov comments, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “Ireland, and the EU are resolute in its support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s immoral, illegal and unjustified invasion.
“As the Tánaiste stated, we stand with Ukraine, for European values, and for the humanitarian effort in aid of its people.”