Ukrainian News | 15Nov2007 | Editorial
Page 6

National press either illiterate or Ukrainophobic

Editors at some of Canada's largest national newspapers are either illiterate or, more ominously, deliberately Ukrainophobic.

We refer specifically to the practice of some of Canada's largest newspapers to refer to innocent Ukrainian octogenarians as "alleged Nazi war criminals" when they haven't been charged with any crime whatsoever -- let alone a war crime.

The latest example was an almost full-page spread in the November 7, 2007 edition of the National Post, topped off with the headline 'ALLEGED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS IDENTIFIED BY THE CANADIAN JEWISH CONGRESS" picturing and listing seven men from Ukraine (four ethnic Ukrainians and three ethnic Germans) whom CJC CEO Bernie Farber has targeted.

The seven are: Josef Furman, Jura Skomatchuk, Vladimir Katriuk, Wasyl Odynsky, Jacob Fast, Michael Seifert and Helmut Oberlander. For some strange reason, Farber and the CJC seem to be unaware of the fact that Furman passed away this summer. Skomatchuk, Katriuk, Odynsky, Fast and Oberlander were found to have lied upon coming to Canada under the "balance of probabilities" qualification of a citizenship court hearing (known as the Denaturalization and Deportation policy or D & D). But they have never been charged with any criminal act, therefore cannot be classified as "alleged Nazi war criminals" for that very reason. Seifert is a curious addition to this list. He was actually charged with war crimes and found guilty in absentia by an Italian court. However an attempt to extradite him to Italy to face trial was quashed by a Canadian court which found insufficient evidence to prove the accusations against Seifert. That's why he was put on the D & D list, because, under D & D, there is no need for prosecutors to bother with such niceties as having to provide evidence of any crime.

Farber himself was directly asked by this newspaper at a press conference in Ottawa on Jan. 30, 2007 how he can call people "alleged Nazi war criminals" when they have not been charged with any crime. His response on that occasion was: "I would challenge you to look into my remarks as to whether I actually called them war criminals." So he's aware that making such a statement is not true. Therefore, how does the National Post come up with the headline 'ALLEGED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS IDENTIFIED BY THE CANADIAN JEWISH CONGRESS", citing Farber as the source of their story?

Another newspaper which practices such contortions of the English language is the Toronto Star, which in an Aug. 10, 2007 story referred to Odynsky and Katriuk as "accused war criminals". When Odynsky's daughter Olya wrote to the Public Editor of the Star complaining about such a blatant falsehood, Kathy English replied "it is not inaccurate to refer to Wasyl Odynsky and Vladimir Katriuk as 'accused war criminals'."

Her justification was that the Canada Border Services Agency, states: "In March 2001, the Federal Court found that Mr. Odynsky obtained Canadian citizenship by deception in that he concealed his service as a guard at the SS forced labour camps of Trawniki and Poniatowa."

Please note that there is no reference here that would suggest Odynsky was ever charged with any crime.

Furthermore, in that same letter, English admits: "In a 2001 ruling, Federal Court Judge W. Andrew MacKay found that Mr. Odynsky did not voluntarily join the SS auxiliary forces, or voluntarily serve with them at Trawniki or Poniatawa, or later with the Battalion Streibel; and further, that there was no evidence that Mr. Odynsky was involved in any wrongful treatment of prisoners."

So, if that is the case, how do you justify calling him an "accused war criminal"?

We find no justification whatsoever for the repeated use of the term "alleged Nazi war criminal" in reference to these Ukrainians. And neither do we believe that editors at such prominent Canadian newspapers can be so illiterate. No, unfortunately this appears as a deliberate attempt to smear Ukrainians.