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Lviv, Ukraine - Presidential Campaign Gets Dirty as Leaflets Smear Prime Minister as ‘Jew’

Published on: February 4, 2010 10:38 PM
By:  Kyiv Post
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Unattributed leaflets referring to Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as “a Jew” and calling not to vote for her appeared in mail boxes in western Ukraine in the last week before the Feb. 7 runoff vote.Lviv, Ukraine - Ukraine’s bitter presidential campaign took an ugly turn this week as leaflets accusing Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of being Jewish and encouraging voters not to cast ballots in her favor began to circulate in western Ukraine.

The flyer features Tymoshenko’s photograph with the words “Don’t Vote for a Jew!”

It reprints an alleged facsimile by the prime minister’s father documenting his supposed Russian and Jewish background and asks why Tymoshenko is hiding her Jewish ancestry. The leaflet also features purported quotes by four individuals, including former presidential candidate Arseniy Yatseniuk, who claim Tymoshenko is Jewish. The flyer’s circulation is listed as two million copies.

It is unclear who is behind the smear campaign. Hryhoriy Nemyria, Ukraine’s vice prime minister, however, was quick to point fingers at Tymoshenko’s rival, opposition leader Victor Yanukovych.

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“Playing to people’s basest instincts is just typical of Yanukovych and his camp,” Nemyria said in a written statement. “His is a politics where an opponent is not an opponent, but an enemy. And as history has shown, once you start looking and defining one type of enemy in society, you begin to look for more and more. So who knows what group will be next?”

Lubomyr Kozak from Yanukovych’s campaign headquarters in Lviv said he had not seen the flyer, but denied his candidate was behind it. “We didn’t prepare it and we didn’t distribute it,” he said. “Tymoshenko has also distributed a lot of dirt…that in the civilized world wouldn’t be tolerated.”

The leaflets, which were dispersed in residential mailboxes and on the streets, appear to be targeted toward residents of western Ukraine, a region that historically has had a troubled relationship with its Jewish community. Ukrainian and Jewish leaders remain divided over the role Ukrainians played in the destruction of the region’s centuries-old Jewish community during World War II. They are also bitterly split over the persona of Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who many western Ukrainians see as a hero but Jewish leaders view as a Nazi collaborator.

President Victor Yushchenko recently fueled the debate by posthumously awarding Bandera the prestigious Hero of Ukraine award, a move that outraged Jews worldwide, (as was reported here on Vos Iz Neias).

Oleksiy Ivchenko, leader of the right-wing Ukrainian Congress of Nationalists and one of the people featured in the pamphlet, called it “a provocation.”

“Our party has a position, that each citizen, regardless of their ethnic background, has the right to run for president.”

The pamphlet appears at a critical time for Tymoshenko. To win the Feb. 7 runoff vote, she will have to carry western and central Ukraine, as well as make a strong showing in the east. Although the prime minister won most of western Ukraine’s regions in the first round of elections on Jan. 17, some worry that tapping into historical prejudices at this moment could hurt her with that segment of the population which is easily swayed.

“This might work in the countryside, where people are less educated,” said Maksym Palukh, a 23-year-old worker at an upscale Lviv department store. At the same time, he believed such propaganda is unlikely to influence the region’s urban voters. “It won’t work here,” he said. “As for Yanukovych, he is not a possible variant. His image is formed on such a level that people here won’t vote for him.”

This is not the first time the Jewish card has been played in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential race. In an interview late last year, presidential candidate Arseniy Yatseniuk blamed the dramatic fall in his ratings in western Ukraine before the first round of voting on a national smear campaign that also alleged he was of Jewish ancestry.“This country has latent anti-Semitism,” he said at the time.

Yatseniuk would not comment on the anti-Tymoshenko flyer, but his press service denied the former candidate was in any way involved with its appearance.

The pamphlet has outraged Lviv’s small Jewish community and indicates people are still willing to employ political tactics once used by authoritarian states, one of its leaders said.

“Ukraine is going in a different direction, but the methods used are the same of totalitarian regimes,” said Meylakh Sheykhet, the director of the Lviv office of the Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union. “This is an example that shows people haven’t gotten rid of their totalitarian thinking; they still see Ukraine as a totalitarian state. It shows that Ukrainian independence is still deeply being threatened.”

Ivan Mospan, a 60-year-old retiree, said the pamphlet could have opposite the intended effect.

“It is clearly insulting,” the resident of Buchach, in Ternopil region, said. “You can’t agitate people with that kind of stuff. People will vote for Tymoshenko because she is our one democratic hope. We are voting for her because if we don’t, we will lose Ukraine.”



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Read Comments (23)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 04, 2010 at 10:54 PM czyrankevic Says:

i forgot which israely pm said that polish antisemitism came already from their mothers milk same with ukrainians throuout history the pogroms latein the nineteenth century to babi yar and going back to shnas t*ach so what else is new at macys

2

 Feb 04, 2010 at 11:21 PM Lvov Visitor Says:

I wish Rabbi M. Sh. Bald would say somthing about this article. After all he's the Chief Rabbi of Lvov and west Ukraine. I've listented a few times to Rabbi Bald's speeches, he is Quite humorous! That's what i'm talking about!!!

3

 Feb 05, 2010 at 12:31 AM Anonymous Says:

I live in Ukraine. My first suspicion is that this is actually the work of a renegade Tymoshenko supporter; Tymoshenko is far more associated with anti-Semites than Yanukovitch is and this pathetic nonsense is meant to backfire. Alternately, it is the work of a very stupid nutcase.

4

 Feb 05, 2010 at 04:38 AM Anonymous Says:

My Family was murdered in Lvov. Now I know why. The Ukrainians must be sick people if even in these days they are full of hate without the Nazis or Stalinists around to provoke it.

5

 Feb 05, 2010 at 07:33 AM Chaim Says:

Reading about constant antisemitism wanna make me shout:
עם ישראל חי
עוד אבינו חי
forever!!!

6

 Feb 05, 2010 at 07:34 AM Anonymous Says:

in iran by the lasy election was the same thing. burich hasham its stil a problem for a goi to be a yidish kind in that's good enough to smear because tht remind us we are still in gulas vhivdiloni min hatoiym

7

 Feb 05, 2010 at 07:34 AM Asher Buchwalter Says:

In 1941 when the Germans entered Lwow,Lviv now, the local Ukrainians with joy and eagerness killed Jews and assisted the SS in their barbarism. Lviv has a history of Chmielnitzki and Petljura the worst antisemites. Even those in the U.S. are antisemites. It is a cursed land. My mother's family lived in Lemberg,Lwow and Lviv.

8

 Feb 05, 2010 at 08:17 AM Yov Says:

I wouldn't call it a "smear campaign", it is a great compliment to be connected to our rich cultural and spiritual heritage. Shame it's only on his dad's side. Still, he should win the election of these people want to move their country in a positive direction.

9

 Feb 05, 2010 at 08:36 AM Shula Says:

I am from Lviv myself. Most Ukrainians are as anti-Semitic as they come. But!! THere are only 2 candidates in the runoff. Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yanukovych. The latter is a petty criminal, absolutely uneducated, and a Putin's puppet. If he is elected, most likely, Russian will be declared a second national language and Russia will once again establish its dominance over Ukraine. So where will it land the purported authors of these leaflets? So I, for one, think that this an FSB (KGB) ploy to ensure that Yanukovych wins.

10

 Feb 05, 2010 at 10:07 AM avraham Says:

Burn in he.l, Ukraine!

11

 Feb 05, 2010 at 10:15 AM wonderingyid Says:

all this shows is what appeals to the public-

12

 Feb 05, 2010 at 03:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Reminds me of "don't vote for Obama because he's a Mulim"

13

 Feb 06, 2010 at 01:24 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Shula Says:

I am from Lviv myself. Most Ukrainians are as anti-Semitic as they come. But!! THere are only 2 candidates in the runoff. Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yanukovych. The latter is a petty criminal, absolutely uneducated, and a Putin's puppet. If he is elected, most likely, Russian will be declared a second national language and Russia will once again establish its dominance over Ukraine. So where will it land the purported authors of these leaflets? So I, for one, think that this an FSB (KGB) ploy to ensure that Yanukovych wins.

Most Jews in the more civilized and less anti Semitic Russian speaking region of Ukraine prefer Yanukovich. Yuschenko brought us inflation, nationalism that gave rise to anti-Semitism (he asked Peres to condemn the Holodomor which was not genocide and in fact was invented as a foil to the Shoah and refused to apologize for Ukrainian Nazi collaboration), and pie in the sky promises of EU membership which are plain nonsense. Tymoshenko is just as much in Russia's pocket as Yanukovich at this point, and she is a major criminal who stole millions as the "gas princess". This leaflet looks like her own work, meant to backfire in "hip" Lviv where unlike in other parts of her Chmelnitzkyite stronghold anti-Semitism is less tolerated.

14

 Feb 06, 2010 at 07:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

Most Jews in the more civilized and less anti Semitic Russian speaking region of Ukraine prefer Yanukovich. Yuschenko brought us inflation, nationalism that gave rise to anti-Semitism (he asked Peres to condemn the Holodomor which was not genocide and in fact was invented as a foil to the Shoah and refused to apologize for Ukrainian Nazi collaboration), and pie in the sky promises of EU membership which are plain nonsense. Tymoshenko is just as much in Russia's pocket as Yanukovich at this point, and she is a major criminal who stole millions as the "gas princess". This leaflet looks like her own work, meant to backfire in "hip" Lviv where unlike in other parts of her Chmelnitzkyite stronghold anti-Semitism is less tolerated.

well, Yushchenko also brought you WTO membership and Euro-2012. and the trade with Russia actually grew four times during his tenure. Yanukovich will most probably fail miserably and be voted out way before his formal term expires. as for 'most Jews', i am originally from Harkiv, and i wouldn't say there was much antagonism between us and Ukrainians there, much more between Jews and Russians, especially those supportive of Soviet cause
and the guy who said 'burn in hell, Ukraine', risks bringing it up on himself. there's been a lot bad blood in Jewish-Ukrainian relations, and not all of it was cause by Ukrainians

15

 Feb 06, 2010 at 09:16 PM SpikeyApples Says:

anyway, poor Ms. Tymoshenko: she is actually Armenian, and now is accused of being Jewish. belonging to two similar yet often fighting minorities is no easy thing :) especially when you run for President

16

 Feb 07, 2010 at 04:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

well, Yushchenko also brought you WTO membership and Euro-2012. and the trade with Russia actually grew four times during his tenure. Yanukovich will most probably fail miserably and be voted out way before his formal term expires. as for 'most Jews', i am originally from Harkiv, and i wouldn't say there was much antagonism between us and Ukrainians there, much more between Jews and Russians, especially those supportive of Soviet cause
and the guy who said 'burn in hell, Ukraine', risks bringing it up on himself. there's been a lot bad blood in Jewish-Ukrainian relations, and not all of it was cause by Ukrainians

LOL at Euro 2012 which is a total failure that was already taken from 2 cities and will probably be lost to Kiev as well and WTO which only raised inflation and thanks for your self-hating rant. The descendants of Chmelnitzky's mobs have hated us and will hate us forever and we are not guilty of anything except not giving it back to them 10 times as hard. The old sovki are dying out anyway and what they have to say is of little meaning. In fact you are parroting the Chmelnitzkyite line that blames the Jews for the Soviet Union and I wonder if you are indeed Jewish (as is the case with many emigres who got out as Jews but are really not halachic Jews and do not identify with Judaism).

Tymoshenko the great Ukrainian patriot is half Armenian and half Russian. Her exaggerated Slavic looks and image, like the rest of her are phony and are the work of makeup artists and plastic surgeons.

17

 Feb 07, 2010 at 04:26 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

well, Yushchenko also brought you WTO membership and Euro-2012. and the trade with Russia actually grew four times during his tenure. Yanukovich will most probably fail miserably and be voted out way before his formal term expires. as for 'most Jews', i am originally from Harkiv, and i wouldn't say there was much antagonism between us and Ukrainians there, much more between Jews and Russians, especially those supportive of Soviet cause
and the guy who said 'burn in hell, Ukraine', risks bringing it up on himself. there's been a lot bad blood in Jewish-Ukrainian relations, and not all of it was cause by Ukrainians

Incidentally she claims her father was Latvian but the surname looks Armenian to me and Dnepropetrovsk where she is from has a sizeable Armenian community (who are hardworking people that have no need for her socialism or sleaze).

18

 Feb 07, 2010 at 09:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

LOL at Euro 2012 which is a total failure that was already taken from 2 cities and will probably be lost to Kiev as well and WTO which only raised inflation and thanks for your self-hating rant. The descendants of Chmelnitzky's mobs have hated us and will hate us forever and we are not guilty of anything except not giving it back to them 10 times as hard. The old sovki are dying out anyway and what they have to say is of little meaning. In fact you are parroting the Chmelnitzkyite line that blames the Jews for the Soviet Union and I wonder if you are indeed Jewish (as is the case with many emigres who got out as Jews but are really not halachic Jews and do not identify with Judaism).

Tymoshenko the great Ukrainian patriot is half Armenian and half Russian. Her exaggerated Slavic looks and image, like the rest of her are phony and are the work of makeup artists and plastic surgeons.

i am parroting nothing, it's rather you who parrots the russian fascists like Mitrofanov, who deride Tymoshenko for being Armenian, as if an Armenian person cannot be a Ukrainian patriot; and it's you who claims 'old sovki are dying out', yet they just showed up in numbers making over half of Ukraine population, at today's election there
as for Chmelnitzky, maybe you can explain to me how come today nobody talks about him, but everybody talks about Bandera? i'll tell you why: the former fully satisfies Russians, anti-semite and bandit or not; while the latter fought for independence of Ukraine, and that's why he and his supporters take the brunt of hatred of the sovki, and sovki's stooges, like yourself
your questioning of me, and perhaps anyone disagreeing with you, being Jewish, is completely on your conscience, so i'll leave you at that.
as for Euro, it's totally normal to see off some contender cities, while keeping the rest. 4 for Poland, 4 for Ukraine, including my own Harkiv; that don't look too bad

19

 Feb 07, 2010 at 09:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
Anonymous Says:

i am parroting nothing, it's rather you who parrots the russian fascists like Mitrofanov, who deride Tymoshenko for being Armenian, as if an Armenian person cannot be a Ukrainian patriot; and it's you who claims 'old sovki are dying out', yet they just showed up in numbers making over half of Ukraine population, at today's election there
as for Chmelnitzky, maybe you can explain to me how come today nobody talks about him, but everybody talks about Bandera? i'll tell you why: the former fully satisfies Russians, anti-semite and bandit or not; while the latter fought for independence of Ukraine, and that's why he and his supporters take the brunt of hatred of the sovki, and sovki's stooges, like yourself
your questioning of me, and perhaps anyone disagreeing with you, being Jewish, is completely on your conscience, so i'll leave you at that.
as for Euro, it's totally normal to see off some contender cities, while keeping the rest. 4 for Poland, 4 for Ukraine, including my own Harkiv; that don't look too bad

LOL there is ONE for Ukraine and that is Kiev and even that is up in the air. The rest of your rant is nonsense as well and yes I question your Judaism because no Jew in his right mind accepts Bandera as a hero. Chmelnitzky is remembered only by Jews as a rosho and believe me I can't stand seeing his ugly mug on the 5 UAH note which I refuse to hold and spend the moment I get one in change. But he goes too far back to do much about at this point, whereas Bandera is a fresh, festering wound.

Russia is far kinder to Jews than Ukraine officially is, not that I care much for Russia. I also could care less if Tymoshenko is Armenian but nothing about her suggests Armenian heritage except her actual maiden name. Armenians have no use for her plans for state control of sectors of the economy and neither do we Jews, as we and they make up much of the hard working merchant class here.

20

 Feb 07, 2010 at 12:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

LOL there is ONE for Ukraine and that is Kiev and even that is up in the air. The rest of your rant is nonsense as well and yes I question your Judaism because no Jew in his right mind accepts Bandera as a hero. Chmelnitzky is remembered only by Jews as a rosho and believe me I can't stand seeing his ugly mug on the 5 UAH note which I refuse to hold and spend the moment I get one in change. But he goes too far back to do much about at this point, whereas Bandera is a fresh, festering wound.

Russia is far kinder to Jews than Ukraine officially is, not that I care much for Russia. I also could care less if Tymoshenko is Armenian but nothing about her suggests Armenian heritage except her actual maiden name. Armenians have no use for her plans for state control of sectors of the economy and neither do we Jews, as we and they make up much of the hard working merchant class here.

what plans of control? she is social-democrat leaning, but has she done anything of the sort that Putin did to Yukos(run, by the way, by a Jewish entrperenuer, now sitting in jail)?
what 'ONE" for Kiev you speak of? 4 polish and 4 ukrainian cities get Euro games. were it not for Independence, that people like Yushenko and yes, Bandera fought for, no worthwhile events like that would be coming to Ukraine today. by the way, if you say 'no Jew in right state of mind can consider Bandera a hero' -- what of those Jews considering their heroes, say, Stalin and Lenin?
Russia's kinder to Jews? unlike Ukraine and Poland, Russia did not officially allow Jews living on its territory until late 19 century? are you aware of the treatment theJewish 'cantonists' used to receive? and what exactly self-hatred do you find in my statements? Judaism is about self-analysis and acknowledgment of mistakes, learning from them and improving upon it. There were some Jews serving occupiers of Ukraine, from Poles to Turks to Russians to Austrians; admitting and denouncing that would do no harm but great benefit to us. it's rather you whose pompous 'pride' is vain and betrays real self-denial

21

 Feb 07, 2010 at 02:53 PM Anonymous Says:

There are no Jews left who consider Stalin and Lenin YMS their heroes. Those who did fell for their nonsense only because of years of persecution and degradation by tsar and peasant alike. Ukraine was NEVER an independent country in the modern sense; Ukrainian is just Polish written in bastardized Cyrillic characters.

We Jews owe Ukraine nothing. BH though we Jews now own much of the production in Ukraine and we are bringing jobs and food and homes to our former persecutors. Jews even built one of the stadiums for Euro-2012 but thanks to Ukrainian incompetence that game will never be played in the Dnipro stadium that was built for the tournament. Only Kiev is left in the running and its status is unclear. Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk and Lviv are out.

And your ramblings are those of a Ukrainian nationalist with an agenda, not a Jew.

But it hardly matters. Yanukovych won.

22

 Feb 07, 2010 at 04:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Ukrainian is just Polish written in bastardized Cyrillic characters.--

this is what i'm talking about: the attitude of contempt for a country you live in. if most of anti-semitism is surely baseless, in your case it'd be fully justified.
check your facts: Harkiv, Lviv and Dnepropetrovsk are all in. after this claim of yours, i wonder if you indeed live there. so go have your little party to celebrate the rapist's Putin-financed victory; until he gets impeached in half-a-year from now

23

 Feb 07, 2010 at 08:14 PM Anonymous Says:

and it's funny how you essentially side with the people who smeared Tymoshenko for being Jewish. they think they can destroy her bid by allegation of Jewishness, and you put her down for being 'socialist'. seems like you and the antisemites have the same goal ;)
sorry, i was wrong about Dniprovetrovs'k, it's Donets'k of course. yet you can go to uefa.com and see for yourself what cities are guaranteed Euro games. oh, and no: Ukrainian is not Polish, and its alphabet is not bastardized ctrillic. it's actually closer to the language of Ancient Rus' than Russian is. and russian just as ukrainians had an alphabet reform early last century. go listen to West-Ukrainian speech, it has actually many words sounding more similar to Russian than to POlish; but anyway, it's a separate language

24

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