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The Order of Liberty Ukraine & an unhappy Jewry

January 26, 2017

In 2008, Ukraine created a State award called the Order of Liberty.

Between its creation and the end of 2016, 50 individuals have received the award.  The very first was Carl Gustav XIV of Sweden.  Among other well known names without Ukraine other recipients include Anders Fogh Rasmussen, John McCain, Boris Nemtsov, George Soros, Stephen Harper, and Richard Lugar.

Domestically well known individuals such as Filaret Denysenko, Leonid Kravchuk and others also hold the award.

Thus far 2017 will see the award given to Refat Chubarov, Volodymyr Kolinets and Vasyl Krasnovskyi – at least according to the plan (and Presidential website), 27th January 2017 will see Vasyl Krasnovskyi given the award.

Of all recipients (international or Ukrainian) of this award however, it is difficult to recall an individual so almost entirely unknown and also who has generated a public appeal fore presidential reconsideration from a specific part of the Ukrainian demographic.

The Jewish community is clearly appalled by this award being given to Mr Krasnovskyi.  Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Azman is publicly incensed.

His reasons being that Mr Krasnovskyi’s published prose (he is apparently a poet) are unambiguously anti-Semitic.  The Rabbi contests that in his written work Mr Krasnovskyi blames the Jews for the repressions of the Stalin regime, destruction of Ukrainian culture, the Holodomor and the seizure of power in Ukraine today.

In short the Chief Rabbi appeals to President Poroshenko to cancel the award to Mr Krasnovskyi (who according to the presidential website gains the award as a “Political figure, Ternopil Region” – no more and no less) stating that Mr Krasnovskyi is nothing more than a “pathological anti-Semite whose books are imbued with hatred for Jews“.

A particularly direct and prickly statement from a Chief Rabbi who is normally extremely diplomatic in his public oratory.

Clearly a reader, no differently to almost the entirety of the Ukrainian constituency,  will be wondering how such an award with such a legacy of recipients is to be awarded to somebody that is entirely unknown and apparently a rabid anti-Semite too.

To give the benefit of the doubt to President Poroshenko, he like almost every Ukrainian will probably have no idea who Mr Krasnovskyi is either.  He will not have drawn up the list of award recipients published on the website any more than Queen Elizabeth II decides who gets awards in her “Birthday Honours” (and still no MBE for your author for years of dedicated below par blogging).

However somebody within presidential circles firstly knows who Mr Krasnovskyi is, and also had the influence to place him on that list.

Whether or not they realised that there would be a very public and very specific negative Jewish reaction is perhaps speculation without knowing precisely who engineered the award for Mr Krasnovskyi.

Further, it is questionable whether that individual also knew that should that award actually be given, that it occurs on the eve of International Holocaust Day (27th January) adding further indignation to the Ukrainian Jewry.

However, until this particular incident, the Order of Liberty has been an award that has remained fairly unsullied by way of the calibre and public recognition of its recipients – unlike other Ukrainian awards that have often been little more than distinctly domestic political tools.

Thus, the questions to ponder are why Mr Krasnovskyi is being given this award (regardless of his Antisemitism) when he is entirely unknown to the nation, who has engineered it, and why they decided to do so?

Somebody benefits from promoting this entirely unknown award recipient – aside from Mr Krasnovskyi who gets this particular State Gong – so who and how?

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