Demonstrators in recent days have taken to the streets to oppose the government’s decision not to sign an agreement for a closer relationship with the West.
Ukrainians have always been fiercely independent, even though they’ve struggled under domination for centuries by Poles, Austro-Hungarians and most recently the old Soviet Union, which ruled the country for most the 20th Century.
To throw off the Soviet yoke, large numbers of Ukrainians collaborated with the Nazis after the 1941 German invasion.
To this day a strong element of pro-Nazism runs through country. In August, Ukrainians dressed in Nazi SS uniforms re-enacted a key battle against the Soviets during World War II. Many were Ukrainian nationalists, but hardcore ultra-rightists also were present, according to The Associated Press.
Former President Viktor Yushchenko, a proponent of closer ties with the West also campaigned to honor pro-Nazi collaborators as Ukrainian heroes, even though many units had a hand in massacring Jews and Poles.
Current President Viktor Yanukovych, who is more Russia leaning and the target of protests, has campaigned against treating Nazi collaborators as heroes. But he’s also been accused of playing to anti-fascist sentiment to boost his own political fortunes.
The fact is the Ukraine has failed to investigate or prosecute a single Nazi war criminal, no matter who is in power, Simon Wiesenthal Center investigator Efraim Zuroff told the AP.
Enter Clooney. The actor addressed the people of Ukraine in a video posted on YouTube yesterday (Dec. 10).
“We here in the United States have great affinity for those seeking democracy,” says the actor-director, going on to add, “You cannot have a true democracy if you arrest and harm its peaceful protesters.”
“Let me say this to all of you in the square in Kiev and all around Ukraine,” he continued.
“When you look to the West, know that we’re looking back with great admiration. We wish you a peaceful and safe mission. We wish you the government that you want. And we wish you the strength to carry on.”
Cloney sent the video to pro boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who have been supporting the pro-democracy movement.
Incidentally, the Klitschkos are actually natives of Kazakhstan. Their late-father is a former Soviet general who served as the Ukraine’s military attaché in Germany. The Klitschko’s grew up in, and identify with, the Ukraine.
Which is all fine and well. But Clooney should have at least acknowledged the Ukraine’s checkered past and expressed some concern that the “pro-democracy” movement isn’t just a cover for ultra-rightest, pro-nazi sympathizers.
To do any less, reduces his expressions of sympathy to a propaganda tool.
Check out the video below and follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.