Far-right Ukrainian party planning visit to Israel

Kiev Jewish leaders claim Foreign Ministry told ambassador to stop arrangements for trip.

Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Feldman 370 (photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Feldman 370
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
KIEV – The leader of the Svoboda Party – a far-right political faction widely perceived by Ukrainian Jews to be anti-Semitic – recently met with Israel’s Ambassador to Kiev Reuven Dinel, to discuss a possible visit to Israel, Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Feldman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
During an interview at the third annual Kiev Interfaith Forum, Feldman, who is a lawmaker from the ruling Party of Regions faction and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, alleged that Dinel and a representative of Svoboda were brought together by a Jewish member of parliament.
Feldman declined to specify to which MP he was referring, saying that there were several other Jews in parliament and that identifying the lawmaker was “not the right way.”
According to Feldman, the Svoboda party was “kind of having fun with the situation” and was planning on making use of a visit to Israel for propaganda purposes, to garner “excellent public relations.”
The Svoboda leadership, the Jewish parliamentarian said, would use an Israel visit to gain a patina of respectability and to discredit those who are active against their party, allowing the groups to tell Ukrainians that it is only “Jewish radicals” like Feldman who are against them.
Such a visit would be dangerous, Feldman told the Post.
Eduard Dolinsky, executive director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, who was present for the interview, added that “very recently” there were “initial contacts, through a Jewish member of parliament, [between] Svoboda [and] Israel, but the Israeli Foreign Ministry instructed the ambassador here not to continue what he initially planned.”
They were trying “to organize a visit of their leaders to Israel,” he said.
The Post could not independently verify Feldman’s claims. Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Svoboda party replied to email requests for comment. The Israeli Embassy in Kiev did not immediately respond to a request for further information regarding Feldman and Dolinsky’s claims.