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U.S. presidential candidate calls Ukraine's Zelenskyy 'Nazi'

U.S. presidential candidate calls Ukraine's Zelenskyy 'Nazi' Vivek Ramaswamy (Photo: Scott McIntyre / The New York Times)

Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a 'Nazi" during a debate in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, which generated a great deal of social criticism. The politician's campaign contends that he was misunderstood, according to The New York Times.

Strange statements by a representative of the U.S. Republican Party caused outrage and a wave of criticism on the Internet after his speech in Miami. Some American netizens recalled the Jewish roots of Zelenskyy, who lost family members during the Holocaust.

The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans opposing Donald Trump, referred to Ramaswamy as a "non-serious candidate" in one of their online posts.

After receiving criticism, Ramaswamy's campaign headquarters attempted to defend the candidate's statement and claimed he did not mean it.

In the debate, Ramaswamy opposed the Ukrainian leader's recent appeal for increased American support to defend against Russia's military aggression, despite some Republican senators' support for it.

"Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy. It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks. A comedian in cargo pants. The man called Zelensky. That is not democratic," he said.

Ramaswamy's spokeswoman, Tricia McLaughlin, clarified that Ramaswamy did not refer to Zelenskyy as a Nazi. She explained that during the September event at the Canadian parliament, where the Ukrainian president visited, 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, who served in the 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galicia" during World War II, was also invited.

While Ramaswamy's campaign headquarters acknowledges that this remark from the candidate can be misunderstood without proper context, McLaughlin reasoned that he spoke quickly and his words were uneven.

The scandal of Hunka's invitation

The uproar over Hunka's invitation ignited in September when 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galicia" veteran Yaroslav Hunka was invited to a Canadian parliamentary meeting during which Zelenskyy spoke. This event has been a topic of controversy ever since, with Russian propagandists and others accusing Hunka of being a "Nazi."

However, the Galicia Division was never convicted by the Nuremberg trials or any other tribunal, as the soldiers' guilt of war crimes could not be proven.

Following the scandal, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for inviting a veteran of the Galicia Division to Zelenskyy's speech in parliament. Additionally, the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament resigned.