(JTA) — Ukraine’s parliament for the first time commemorated the Holocaust ahead of the international date in memory of the victims.
The Verkohvna Rada in Kyiv held a memorial ceremony on Thursday ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. The date was designated in 2005 by the United Nations. On that day, Red Army troops liberated the Auschwitz Nazi camp in occupied Poland. This year is the liberation’s 75th anniversary.
“The Holocaust was a disaster not only for the Jewish people but for the whole world and specifically the Ukrainian people,” lawmaker Daniel Gatmanzov said in his address.
Memorial candles were lit and a minute’s silence was observed.
Among those on hand was Israel’s ambassador, Joel Lion, who in recent years has protested the glorification of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine, including by some officials.
Last week, Gennady Nadolenko, the head of Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, issued the first public reaction to Lion’s protests.
The subject is related to “internal issues of Ukrainian politics” and Israel’s protests about it are “counterproductive,” Nadolenko told Israeli diplomats, according to the new site Jewish.ru.
Also at the ceremony were a local rabbi, Jonathan Markovich; Israel’s honorary consul in Ukraine, Oleg Vyshniakov; and lawmaker Alexander Konitsky.
The 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation will be commemorated at an international summit next week in Jerusalem organized by Israel’s government and Moshe Kantor, president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and the European Jewish Congress.
Another ceremony will be held Jan. 27 at the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum near Krakow, Poland.