For months, Ukraine Ambassador Melnyk has sharply criticized the federal government. Now he’s under a lot of pressure himself. How long he will be in Berlin is unclear.
After days of silence, the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk has denied the accusation that his statements about the Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera played down the Holocaust.
“Anyone who knows me knows: I have always condemned the Holocaust in the strongest possible terms,” Melnyk wrote on Twitter. The allegations against him are “absurd”.
The “Bild” and the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported, citing Ukrainian sources, that Melnyk should be recalled and move to the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv. The 46-year-old could become Deputy Foreign Minister in the fall, wrote the “Bild”.
Ambassador in Berlin since 2015
Melnyk has been ambassador to Germany since January 2015 – an exceptionally long time for a diplomat. He had caused a stir in recent months with his sharp criticism of the federal government. Among other things, he accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his ministers of being too hesitant to deliver weapons to fight the Russian attackers in Ukraine.
Last week he came under massive criticism for his statements about Bandera himself. Bandera was the leader of the radical wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during World War II. Nationalist partisans from western Ukraine were responsible for ethnically motivated expulsions in 1943, in which tens of thousands of Polish and Jewish civilians were murdered.
Israeli embassy: “Playing down the Holocaust”
In an interview with journalist Tilo Jung, Melnyk denied that Bandera was a mass murderer of Jews and Poles. The nationalist was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union. The Israeli embassy then accused the ambassador of “distorting historical facts, playing down the Holocaust and insulting those who were murdered by Bandera and his people”.
Melnyk then remained silent for days, but now responded to the allegations with a tweet, which he expressly addressed to “dear Jewish fellow citizens”. The Nazi crimes of the Holocaust are a common tragedy of Ukraine and Israel, he wrote.
The government in Kyiv and Melnyk itself did not initially react to the reports of a planned dismissal. Melnyk was not present at an appointment by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with around 150 ambassadors and high-ranking representatives of international organizations sent to Germany in Franconia.