Ukrainian Nazi veteran applauded in Canada's Parliament

Ottawa apologised after praising Yaroslav Hunka, who fought for Ukraine's independence in the Second World War

Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

The Speaker of Canada's House of Commons has apologised after praising a Nazi veteran during a session attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Anthony Rota on Friday recognised 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka as “a Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran” who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians during the Second World War.

But Mr Rota's remarks ignored “the horrific fact that Hunka served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit whose crimes against humanity during the Holocaust are well documented”, said Jewish advocacy group the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

The centre said it was “incredibly disturbing” to see the Canadian Parliament applaud Mr Hunka.

“There should be no confusion that this unit was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable,” it said.

Mr Rota apologised on Sunday after he said he had “become aware of more information”.

“On September 22, in the House of Commons, I recognised an individual in the gallery. I regret my decision to do so and accept full responsibility for my actions,” he said in a statement.

“This initiative was entirely my own … I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world.”

Mr Trudeau's office said it had no involvement in the incident and said that neither it nor Ukraine's delegation were given advanced notice.

Canada's Parliament gives standing ovation to Ukrainian man who fought in Nazi unit

Canada's Parliament gives standing ovation to Ukrainian man who fought in Nazi unit
Updated: September 26, 2023, 6:04 AM