The Kremlin said on Wednesday the decision by Canada’s parliament speaker to resign after he publicly praised a former Nazi soldier was insufficient and it said the whole parliament should publicly condemn Nazism.
The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons lower chamber, Anthony Rota, told legislators he had made a mistake by inviting Ukrainian ex-soldier Yaroslav Hunka, 98, to attend a session last Friday attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Rota publicly recognized Hunka, calling him a hero. Hunka, who served in one of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS units during World War Two, received two standing ovations from lawmakers.
Asked about the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “As for the resignation of the speaker of parliament, well, of course, he took responsibility, but what about the parliament itself, which stood up and clapped the fascist?”
“Of course, here reason dictates the need for some kind of denunciation of Nazism. Parliament must do this, and otherwise it is a parliament that is tainted by this applause,” he said.
Peskov, who on Tuesday said the incident showed a careless disregard for historical truth, urged Canada to “bring this criminal to justice.”
The episode has played into the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sent his army into Ukraine last year to “demilitarize and denazify” the country. Kyiv and its Western allies say Russia’s actions constitute an unprovoked war of aggression designed to grab territory.
The furor helped tarnish the visit by Zelenskyy, who thanked Canada for the billion of dollars in aid and weapons it has provided since Russia invaded in February 2022.
“The addiction of the Kyiv regime to the Nazi ideology is not news,” Peskov said on Wednesday.
“The fact that Zelenskyy also stood and applauded the fascist (in the Canadian parliament) once again confirms this. And of course, we can only sympathize with the memory of Ukrainian veterans who fought fascism, including Zelenskyy’s grandfather.”
Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, says Moscow’s claims that his administration is run by Nazis are absurd.