Two leaders of Ukraine’s ultranationalist Svoboda Party have been banned from entering the United States for their open anti-Semitism, a Ukrainian daily reported.
Svoboda leaders Oleh Tyahnybok and Igor Miroshnichenko were declared persona non grata in the United States earlier this year, following talks with Jewish leaders including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, according to a report published Wednesday in the Kiev-based Sevodnya daily.
The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine declined to comment on the reports when contacted by Sevodnya. A U.S. State Department report this month singled out Ukraine, along with Hungary and Greece, as places of “concern” because of growing anti-Semitic political parties.
A Svoboda spokesperson said the reports were false and part of an attempt to “by foreigners to discredit” the party. Founded in 2004, Svoboda – which means “freedom” in Ukrainian – is rooted in the Social-National Party, a far-right movement ideologically aligned with Nazism. Svoboda garnered more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections, becoming the country’s fourth-largest party.
Tyahnybok has praised supporters for being the “worst fear of the Jewish-Russian mafia,” and has called Jews “kikes” - a pejorative also used regularly by Miroshnichenko.
Vadim Rabinovich, the Ukraine-born co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, urged European countries to ban Svoboda officials in the same way that the U.S. reportedly has done.