war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

The Jewish card in Russian special operations against Ukraine

Moses Fishbein
Paper delivered at the 26th Conference on Ukrainian Subjects at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 24-27 June 2009

During his speech at an expanded session of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which was held on 29 January 2009, the president of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, revealed an FSB special operation in a few brief sentences: “An unstable sociopolitical situation persisted in a number of neighboring states, there were continued attempts to enlarge NATO, including by means of granting Georgia and Ukraine accelerated membership in the alliance. Naturally, all this required precise and well coordinated work on the part of all special security, defense, and law enforcement structures, and quite a high level of coordination of their activities. I must say straight away that on the whole the Federal Security Service successfully carried out all its tasks.”

In other words, the president of the Russian Federation openly declared that the wrecking of Ukraine’s planned integration into NATO was the work of the Russian special services, the result of special operations that they had put into motion. Afterwards, the Russian president thanked the FSB. This is direct acknowledgement of the fact that the Russian special services are conducting special ops against Ukraine, which are aimed at undermining its sovereignty and independence. This is a brutal violation not just of international law. This is also a brutal violation of Russian laws: the legislative base of the Russian Federation, which controls the FSB’s activities, does not permit this special service to conduct such specials operations. There is not a single word about any special operations in the “Federal Law on the Federal Security Service” that was passed by the State Duma of the Russian Federation on 22 February 1995 (with all subsequent revisions). Take note: this document, which was signed by the president himself, does not contain a single word about any special operations against Ukraine, in connection with which President Medvedev recently congratulated the FSB.

However, there is a concrete stipulation among the direct tasks of the FSB concerning the halting and prevention of leaks of state and military secrets. The FSB’s special operation, aimed at preventing Ukraine’s accession to NATO, is one of the Kremlin’s biggest secrets—and Mr. Dmitry Medvedev was instrumental in leaking this very secret.

The Russian special services continue to carry out special operations aimed at undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence. The members of the FSB and Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service were rewarded for their success in isolating Ukraine. In recent months, the number of personnel in the FSB structures that deal with Ukraine has increased by 1.5 times, and this increase is reminiscent of the 1950s, when the underground Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was active in Ukraine.

One aspect of Russia’s special operations against Ukraine is the so-called “Jewish card.” But first, a little history lesson is in order here. When did the imperialist gamblers begin playing the “Jewish card” on Ukrainian territory?

This was done in the Russian Empire.

For many years Symon Petliura was proclaimed a pogromist in the USSR. It was of no importance that one of the founders and key ideologists of Zionism, the distinguished journalist, civic and political leader Vladimir (Ze’ev) Zhabotinsky had a deep and abiding respect for Petliura, because Zhabotinsky’s own name was taboo in the Soviet Union.

Shortly after Petliura was assassinated in Paris, on the fortieth day after his death—4 July 1926—Zhabotinsky wrote an article that was published in the New York newspaper, The Jewish Morning Journal. It states in part:

Neither Petliura nor Vynnychenko, nor the rest of the distinguished members of this Ukrainian government, were ever “pogromists,” as they are called…I know this type of Ukrainian intellectual-nationalist with socialist views very well. I grew up with them; together with them I waged a struggle against anti-Semites and Russifiers—Jewish and Ukrainian. No one will ever convince me or the rest of the thinking Zionists of southern Russia that these types of people may be considered anti-Semites.

On 28 May 2009 Boris Shpigel, a Russian senator and the head of the World Congress of Russian Jewry (WCRJ), which was founded on the initiative of the Russian special services, had a meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during which he raised the topic of anti-Semitism. During their conversation he declared that “old national heroes are being restored” in Ukraine, those who committed crimes against the Jews, and “history is being rewritten by whitewashing them.” Shpigel cited the example of Symon Petliura. As the Israeli media later reported, “Mr. Netanyahu expressed concern.” It should be noted that Israel’s Likud Party, which is headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, represents the ideological current of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Zhabotinsky whose portrait hangs in this party’s headquarters.

Here I quote Symon Petliura himself.


It is time to realize that the world Jewish population—their children, their women—was enslaved and deprived of its national freedom, just like we were.

It should not go anywhere away from us; it has been living with us since time immemorial, sharing our fate and misfortune with us…

I decisively order that all those who will be inciting you to carry out pogroms be expelled from our army and tried as traitors of the Motherland. Let the courts try them for their actions, without sparing the criminals the severest punishments according to the law. The government of the UNR, understanding all the harm that pogroms inflict on the state, has issued a proclamation to the entire population of the land, with the appeal to oppose all measures by enemies that instigate pogroms against the Jewish population…

Chief otaman Petliura


Our National Army must bring equality, fraternity, and liberation to Ukrainian and Jewish citizens because the latter actively support the Government of the UNR. All their parties, like the Bund, the United [Jewish Socialists], Poalei-Zion, and the Folks-Partei have adopted the platform of Ukraine’s independence and are taking part in building the republic.

I myself know of cases where the members of the Jewish population assisted our army and supported the legal republican government.

I have great respect for those sacrifices that the Jewish population endured on the altar of our motherland in this struggle […]

The death penalty must fall on the heads of pogromists and provocateurs.

Chief otaman Petliura

The twentieth anniversary of the founding congress of the People’s Movement (Rukh) of Ukraine will be marked soon. Does anyone remember how, twenty years ago, the official Soviet press frightened readers with statements, like “The members of Rukh are anti-Semites”? I remember because my congratulatory telegram was read out at Rukh’s founding congress, and it ended with the Hebrew word, “Shalom!”

In early 1990 the government launched a scare campaign targeting the Jews of Kyiv. Female caretakers went around warning them: “Rukh members armed with machine guns are coming from Lviv. Don’t leave your houses. There will be pogroms.” The Ukrainian philosopher Myroslav Popovych and I made it onto TV, and the provocateurs were silenced.

On 1 December 1991 an explosive device was found in a Kyiv synagogue—the day that the referendum on Ukraine’s independence was slated to take place. The message was clear: ‘See? They haven’t even managed to become independent and synagogues are being blown up.’ This explosive device was placed beneath Ukrainian Independence.

According to the fabrications of Moscow’s political technologists, manipulated by Russia’s special services, in 2003 and 2004 the opponents of Ukrainian presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko began disseminating rumors and publications and shooting a film about “the anti-Semitism of Yushchenko and his milieu.” In December 2003 Victor Yushchenko greeted the Jews of Ukraine on Hanukkah. No such message was prepared in the administration of President Leonid Kuchma. In his message to the Jews of Ukraine during Hanukkah, and later during Passover, Victor Yushchenko emphasized: “The history of the Jews has much to teach all of us.” Citing a line from a poem by Ukraine’s greatest female poet Lesia Ukrainka, he said: “And you, my Ukraine, once struggled like Israel.” At that time, I informed the Jewish community of Ukraine that during the Second World War Victor Yushchenko’s mother, who was living in the village of Khoruzhivka, risked her life by hiding three Jewish girls from the city of Romny—for one and a half years.

At that point the campaign to smear Victor Yushchenko as an anti-Semite fizzled out. The film production, which had already cost a considerable amount of money, was halted. We won on Independence Square.

But the Russian special services continue to play the “Jewish card” in their special operations against Ukraine.

In mid-April 2008 the Russian Internet site IA_REGNUM posted information claiming that an Israeli historian named Yury Vilner had published a book entitled Andrii Yushchenko: The Person and the “Legend.” The following sentence instantly began circulating from website to website: “The research proves that during the Second World War the father of the president of Ukraine may have been a camp policeman and Nazi informer.” Few people paid any attention to the stylistic shortcoming of the phrase “proves that…he may have been.” Later, the text of this “book” ended up on the Internet. I started reading it. The book contained the dedication, “To the humanist Aron Shneer.”

Who is Aron Shneer? I finally remembered that the Israeli journalist Mikhail Kheifetz—the same former Soviet political prisoner who wrote brilliant reminiscences of the Ukrainian poet and political prisoner Vasyl Stus—cited Aron Shneer in one of his articles. Dr. Aron Shneer is a Yad Vashem researcher and scholar. I telephoned him. It turns out that he had read the text of the “investigation” on the Internet, but had no idea who Yury Vilner was. The Russian website claimed: “This book, published in Israel, has appeared in Moscow,” but no one either in Israel or in Russia—or anywhere else for that matter—neither scholars nor journalists knew about the existence of this “Israeli.”

I started looking at the book’s ISBN, the unique numeric commercial identifier, which is 969-228-292-5. The first three numbers indicate the country where the book was published. It turns out that “969” is Pakistan. One could, therefore, assume that the book was assigned its registration number in this country. But a search of this publication in the ISBN databank showed that such a book did not exist. This means that the ISBN was fabricated, and hence the “book” itself and its “author” are fabrications created and launched into circulation by means of anti-Ukrainian special operations whose goal is to create difficulties in Ukrainian-Israeli relations, cause mischief between the Ukrainians and Jews, and alarm the international community by exposing the “dark pages of the fascist past” of the Ukrainian president’s father. Within a few days after this book appeared on the website, on 18 April 2008 this fabrication was exposed simultaneously on the pages of the Kyiv-based newspaper Ukraina moloda and an Israeli website, which information quickly spread throughout the Internet. Another anti-Ukrainian special operation was nipped in the bud.

In its imperialistic frenzy, which stems from its acute inferiority complex, the Russian leadership, with the help of its special services, is trying to brainwash both the international community and Russian society with its Ukrainophobia, and through the mass media and agents of influence which they control—a certain segment of Ukraine’s population.

In playing the “Jewish card” in their special operations against Ukraine, the Russian special services are exploiting their “Putin-Juden,” particularly Moscow-based rabbis.

The following statements are taken from the website of the “Eurasian Youth Movement”:

Rabbis and Eurasians joining forces in the struggle against Nazism

21 August 2007

On 20 August an official meeting took place at the synagogue located on Spasoglenishchevskii Pereulok [Lane] in Moscow between the leader of the Eurasian Youth Movement, Pavel Zarifullin, and the chief rabbi of Russia, Adolf Shaevich. During the talks the leader of the EYM and the chief rabbi of Russia reached the conclusion that they have one common enemy—contemporary Ukrainian neo-Nazism, the quasi-official ideology of the “Orange” government of Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine.

From the Novosti portal “Eurasia”:

Eurasians and Jews are for traditionalism and against Ukrainian state fascism

11 November 2008

On 11 November a meeting took place in the Moscow synagogue located in Mariina Roshcha between the chief rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, and the head of the main administration of the International “Eurasian Movement,” Pavel Zarifullin.

During the talks Rabbi Lazar expressed his profound concern in connection with the revival of Nazism in Ukraine and the Baltic republics. He discussed the awarding of the title of “Hero of Ukraine” to the SS executioner Shukhevych. Russia’s chief rabbi emphasized that Ukraine’s accession to the EU and other international organizations should be prevented, and he appealed to the guests to use their connections and reputations in the struggle against the restoration of Nazism.

On 17 September 2008 the well-known Russian journalist Aleksandr Prokhanov and editor of the newspaper Zavtra (Tomorrow)—of whom it is said, “What Putin has on his mind, Prokhanov has on his tongue”—the same Prokhanov who openly calls himself an imperialist—was interviewed by the Ekho Moskvy radio station: “Stalin is becoming the face of Russia…Russia is a potential superpower. Otherwise, it will fall apart.” He went on to declare: “We have achieved this very crisis in Ukraine.” In reply to the female journalist’s question, “What must be done right now?” he said: “Yushchenko must be neutralized.”

High-ranking Russian politicians, particularly the mayor of Moscow, are publicly issuing claims to Ukrainian territory. Cultivated and welcomed by the Russian leadership, provocateurs are plundering national Ukrainian hallowed sites on Mt. Hoverla, and shredding and trampling the Ukrainian flag near the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel. During a press conference held on 28 October 2008 Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the UN, made the following comment about the Holodomor, the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine: “…the Ukrainian government is using this question in order to create mischief between our two fraternal nations and sow discord between our peoples…No matter what repressions or actions were carried out by the Stalinist regime, it cannot be called the primary cause of the Famine…And it is wrong to say that the Stalinist regime was against the Ukrainian people.”

I don’t know if Churkin the diplomat has ever read Forever Flowing, a book about the Holodomor that was written by the famous Russian writer Vasily Grossman. I don’t know if Mr. Churkin reads anything besides “instructions from the Center.” But his statement is nothing but shameless profanity. The other comments that he made during that press conference at the UN headquarters are also nothing but shameless profanity and arrogant lies. I quote: “…The second question…which, in my opinion, has a definite, logical connection with the first, is the question of the heroization of Nazism…In his edict bestowing an award on one of the odious members of the Ukrainian Nazi movement, the President of Ukraine called Mr. Shukhevych, who was a Nazi, a hero…Do you remember that thousands of Jews were killed on the territory of Kyiv? The majority of the people who were killing Jews in Babyn Yar were Ukrainian Nazis.”

“Ukrainian Nazis”? In other words, some Ukrainians who were supposedly members of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party, the NSDAP, were shooting Jews in Babyn Yar, and not Germans from the Einsatzkommando? “Shukhevych, who was a Nazi”? In other words, Shukhevych, who was supposedly a member of the Nazi Party yet was based in Galicia, was in some fashion involved in the shootings in Babyn Yar? Anyone who says this is either an ignoramus or a disinformation specialist. I hope that Mr. Churkin is at least not an ignoramus.

I would like to remind Mr. Churkin that from 1939 to 1941 the USSR, whose successor today is the Russian Federation, was an ally of Nazi Germany. How can one forget all those movie reels showing the joint Soviet-German military parades? I would also like to remind him of the way the special disinformation operation targeting Roman Shukhevych, the Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), is being conducted today. Initially, a story was planted in the mass media, claiming that Shukhevych was an “SS captain.” The rebuttal to the disinformation specialists was that there was never any such rank. Then the disinformation specialists transformed Shukhevych into some sort of Obersturmfuehrer. It was explained to them that in order for an individual to become a member of the SS, he had to expend a lot of effort on proving his Aryan origins, which Shukhevych naturally did not have.

Then the disinformation specialists planted another story in the mass media, this one claiming that Shukhevych had received a military decoration from Hitler himself. They were reminded that the only person had ever received a military decoration from Hitler was Himmler. According to documents stored in Germany’s Military Archive in Freiburg, the Commander in Chief of the UPA was never awarded any German decoration.

But the disinformation specialists desperately need to discredit not only General Shukhevych and the UPA but the entire Ukrainian national liberation movement, as well as the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko.

So they have resorted to an old Soviet secret police provocation by playing the “Jewish card”: they accuse some Ukrainians of destroying Jews, and others of turning into heroes those whom they were allegedly destroying. This is a well-known device: turn the Jews away from the Ukrainian renaissance, turn the Jews and the entire civilized world away from those who seek to restore a genuine Ukrainian Ukraine—Ukrainian in spirit, language, and remembrance of its geniuses and heroes—a Ukrainian Ukraine for all those who live in that country today, regardless of ethnic origins.

In 1942-43 Natalia Shukhevych, the wife of UPA Commander in Chief Roman Shukhevych, hid a young Jewish girl named Ira Reichenberg in her home. General Shukhevych prepared a fake passport for the girl in the name of Iryna Ryzhko. When the Gestapo arrested Mrs. Shukhevych, the little girl was brought to an orphanage based at a convent located in the village of Kulykiv in the Lviv region. There the little girl survived the German occupation and the war. In 2007 Iryna Ryzhko died in Kyiv, where her son Volodymyr lives.

I recounted all this during my briefing at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3 November 2008.

President Victor Yushchenko has instituted state recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The mass media in Russia and beyond its borders, which are manipulated by Russia’s special services, have unfolded a frantic smear campaign against the UPA, which is accused of complicity in the destruction of the Jews. On 14 October 2008, the Feast of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the day set aside to pay homage to UPA soldiers—I gave an interview to the BBC. Here is a fragment:

The claim that “the UPA engaged in anti-Jewish actions” is a provocation engineered by Moscow. It is a provocation. It is a lie that the UPA destroyed Jews. Tell me: how could the UPA have destroyed Jews when Jews were serving members of the UPA? I knew a Jew who served in the UPA. I also knew Dr. Abraham Shtertser, who settled in Israel after the war. There was Samuel Noiman whose [UPA] codename was Maksymovych. There was Shai Varma (codename Skrypal/Violinist). There was Roman Vynnytsky whose codename was Sam.

There was another distinguished figure in the UPA, a woman by the name of Stella Krenzbach, who later wrote her memoirs. She was born in Bolekhiv, in the Lviv region. She was the daughter of a rabbi, she was a Zionist, and in Bolekhiv she was friends with Olia, the daughter of a [Ukrainian] Greek-Catholic priest. In 1939 Stella Krenzbach graduated from Lviv University’s Faculty of Philosophy. From 1943 she served in the UPA as a nurse and intelligence agent. In the spring of 1945 she was captured by the NKVD while meeting a courier in Rozhniativ. She was imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death. Later, this Jewish woman was sprung from prison by UPA soldiers. In the summer of 1945 she crossed into the Carpathian Mountains together with a group of Ukrainian insurgents, and on 1 October 1946 she reached the British Zone of Occupation in Austria. Eventually, she reached Israel. In her memoirs Stella Krenzbach writes:

“I attribute the fact that I am alive today and devoting all the strength of my thirty-eight years to a free Israel only to God and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. I became a member of the heroic UPA on 7 November 1943. In our group I counted twelve Jews, eight of whom were doctors.”

I trust that the Ukrainian state will name all of these individuals. The Ukrainian state will proclaim as heroes these people who, although they were not ethnic Ukrainians, fought for Ukraine’s independence. To me personally, the UPA is sacred. In my opinion, the UPA is sacred to all individuals who, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, have a bit of Ukraine in their souls.

Russia’s special services are seeking to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, undermine its sovereignty and independence, create a negative image of this country, block its integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and turn Ukraine into a dependent and manipulated satellite. In their special operations against Ukraine they attribute exceptional importance to the “Jewish card.”

They want to set the Ukrainians and Jews against each other by means of the well known method of “Divide and conquer.” They will not succeed in either dividing us or ruling over us.

Moses Fishbein is a distinguished Ukrainian poet and translator, winner of the Vasyl Stus Prize, and a member of the Ukrainian Center of the International PEN Club and the National Union of Writers of Ukraine. Academician Ivan Dziuba calls him a “Poet by the Grace of God.” He is listed in various world encyclopedias. He is the recipient of Ukraine’s Order of Prince Yaroslav Mudry, V Degree, and the Order of Holy Prince Volodymyr the Great, Equal to the Apostles, III Degree.






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