Israel’s ambassador in Kiev, Reuven Din El, opened a hotline with a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist movement to “prevent provocations.”
The agreement came at the end of a meeting held last week between Din El and Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector paramilitary group, which participated in the overthrow of the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
In the meeting, “Dmitry Yarosh stressed that Right Sector will oppose all [racist] phenomena, especially anti-Semitism, with all legitimate means,” the embassy wrote on its website.
“The parties agreed to establish a ‘hotline’ to prevent provocations and coordinate on issues as they arise,” it said. Yarosh’s troops had a decisive role in the revolution that forced Yanukovych to flee to Russia.
Last month he told the Ukrainian Pravda newspaper that his outfit shares many beliefs with the xenophobic Svoboda party and cooperates with it, but rejects the xenophobia displayed by Svoboda members and leaders.
“We have a lot of common positions on ideological issues, but there are big differences. For example, I do not understand racist elements and I do not adopt them,” he said.
Yarosh said that “non-Ukrainians” should be treated according to principles set forth by Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera.
A one-time ally of Nazi Germany who later turned against the Nazis, Bandera said non-Ukrainian allies should be treated as brothers and neutral parties should be respected.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish organizations have condemned the glorification in Ukraine of Bandera, whose troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews when they were allies of the Nazis in 1941.
Svoboda lawmakers have regularly used the pejorative “zhyd,” which is equivalent to “kike,” to describe Jews. In response to protests from Jewish leaders, Svoboda argued “zhyd” was a correct and neutral, albeit archaic term.
Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has in the past referred to a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” which he said ruled Ukraine. Din El and Tyahnybok spoke in March 2013 in a meeting which the Israeli foreign ministry said was not coordinated with Jerusalem.