On Monday, Ukraine’s parliament sprung to action and filled two important posts. They appointed Oleg Makhnitski, a lawmaker with Svoboda (Freedom) Party, as the prosecutor general and Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, a lawmaker with the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party, as the Security Service of Ukraine chief.
Both positions were previously held by members of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovich’s party. Parliament passed a resolution that ousted Yanukovich after three months of protests in Independence Square.
Concerns over the Svoboda Party were raised while the protests were going on. Jews and businesses were targeted during the protests, and rabbis even told Ukrainian Jews to flee the country. Critics called Svoboda a neo-Nazi organization, and Britain’s Channel 4 reported they were among the leaders the protests. Their leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has a history of anti-Semitic statements:
Tyahnybok has also claimed that “organized Jewry” dominate Ukrainian media and government, have enriched themselves through criminal activities and plan to engineer a “genocide” upon the Christian Ukrainian population. Another top Svoboda member, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, a deputy in parliament, often quotes Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, as well as other Third Reich luminaries like Ernst Rohm and Gregor Strasser.
They target other groups, too:
Svoboda also assails nonwhites. In February, Yuriy Syrotiuk, a Svoboda spokesman, expressed his unhappiness that Gaitana-Lurdes Essami, a half-Ukrainian, half-Congolese singer, represented Ukraine in the Eurovision music contest, citing that she “is not an organic representative of the Ukrainian culture.” Moreover, Svoboda expresses extreme hostility towards homosexuals – party members once attacked and sprayed tear gas at the participants of a gay rights rally in the capital Kiev.
Both appointees pledged to do their jobs faithfully. Parliament told them they will be watched to make sure they prosecute serious crimes. Most importantly, they will be watched to make sure they treat everyone equally, since Yanukovich was accused of going after political enemies.