According to Russia’s envoy to Ottawa, Oleg Stepanov, Moscow may request the extradition of Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian veteran of the Waffen SS. Stepanov stated that Russia is reviewing the Hunka story and may open a criminal case and subsequent extradition request.
The controversy surrounding Hunka arose after his appearance at Canada’s House of Commons, where he was honored as a Ukrainian “hero” who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians. Hunka fought for the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician Division, which was formed by Nazi Germany from mostly western Ukrainians during World War II. This division is known to have committed atrocities against Jews and Poles.
During Hunka’s visit to the parliament, he received a standing ovation from lawmakers, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. However, this honoring of a Nazi veteran caused a major political meltdown in Canada and sparked anger in multiple other countries.
As a result of the scandal, the now-former House Speaker Anthony Rota resigned while expressing “profound regret” for his “error” in inviting Hunka to the legislature. Prime Minister Trudeau apologized for the debacle, but shifted the blame onto Rota for extending the invitation. He stated that the whole scene was deeply embarrassing for parliament and Canada and offered parliament’s unreserved apologies for what happened.
Apart from Russia, Poland has also called for an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Hunka. Poland, a top supporter of modern-day Ukraine in its fight against Russia, has urged its Institute of National Remembrance to urgently examine the documents to determine whether Hunka is wanted for crimes against the Polish nation and Poles of Jewish origin.
It is important to note that the SS as a whole was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1946, and many senior members of the paramilitary group were tried and executed for their atrocities.
The controversy surrounding Hunka’s recognition as a hero in Canada has sparked outrage and calls for accountability. The potential extradition of Hunka to Russia or Poland would signify a significant development in holding him accountable for his alleged involvement in war crimes.
Overall, the fallout from Hunka’s appearance at Canada’s House of Commons continues to generate international attention and demands for further investigation into his actions during World War II. The controversy highlights the importance of properly acknowledging and addressing the dark history of Nazi collaboration and war crimes to ensure justice and prevent the glorification of individuals involved in atrocities.