Ukrainian MP Igor Miroshnichenko stirred controversy last month by posting an anti-Semitic comment on Facebook regarding Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis.
Miroshnichenko stated, “She is not Ukrainian, she is a Jewess by birth,” using the term “zhydovka” which roughly translates to “dirty Jewess,” instead of the accepted word “ievreïska.”
He added, “She is proud of this and the Star of David. [S]he says nothing and expresses nothing positive about the country in which she was born. I can’t bring myself to say she is Ukrainian. Let her love America or Israel, people must not attach her to the Ukraine!”
Despite protests from Ukrainian Jews regarding the slur, the Ukrainian Justice Ministry determined that this term is not objectionable because it appears in the official dictionary of the Ukrainian language as an archaic term for a Jewish person.
“The last time this term was used in any official way was during the Nazi occupation, when the Jews or ‘Zhyds’ of Kiev were ordered to convene in preparation for their mass murder at Babi Yar,” Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA. “The Justice Ministry and politicians should adjust their definitions and language according to what Ukrainian Jews consider offensive, and we find the word ‘zhyd’ to be just that.”
Miroschnichenko is part of the anti-Semitic Svoboda Party that recently won 12% of the national vote in Ukraine’s October elections. They won less than 1% of the vote in the previous 2007 election.