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Putin says his Jewish friends call Zelensky ‘a disgrace to the Jewish people’

"This is not a joke and not an attempt at irony, because today neo-Nazis, Hitler's disciples, have been put on a pedestal as heroes of Ukraine," the Russian leader said

ST. PETERSBURG, June 16. /TASS/. Ukraine has pedestalized Hitler's followers as heroes, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pointed out.

He shared the attitude of his Jewish friends toward the current leader of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky.

"I have many Jewish friends from my younger days. They tell me: Zelensky is not a Jew. He is a disgrace to the Jewish people," Putin said during a discussion at the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). His remark drew instant applause from the audience.

"This is not a joke and not an attempt at irony, because today neo-Nazis, Hitler's disciples, have been put on a pedestal as heroes of Ukraine," Putin added.

"The Holocaust is the extermination of 6 million Jews; 1.5 million were exterminated in Ukraine, and first and foremost by the hands of the Banderites," he recalled.

Putin said that he had been expecting a conversation on such a subject, so the night before, he called Moscow and asked for some materials containing statements by the Nazis in Ukraine. Then he picked up several sheets of paper and read out: "One Yaroslav Stetsko, head of the Bandera faction, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, 1939: 'Moscow and the Jewry are Ukraine’s greatest enemies. I insist on the extermination of the yids and on the expediency of applying German methods to how the Jewry is treated in Ukraine.’ Then there was Stepan Lenkavsky, who, while speaking in July, 1941 about the notorious ‘Lvov massacre’, said this: ‘In relation to the Jews we use all methods that will lead to their complete extermination.’ What is this?" asked an indignant Putin.

He also said he had once read postwar testimony from someone whom he described as "a Banderite freak," in which he recounted how he and his accomplices had shot a Jewish family.

"It is impossible to read this without a lump in your throat," Putin said. "The man, the head of the family, was disabled. He’d lost an arm. His wife and two children, both girls, to my recollection, 7 and 11 years old - were all grabbed and taken out to be shot. All of them knew what was going to happen. The moment they were forced out of the room the disabled man, a cripple, hugged the dog with the one arm he had and cried. They [the Nazis] took them outside and shot them, including the little girls, 7 and 11 years old," Putin said.

He went on to say that he might also recall the exterminated Russians and Poles. By and large, the Poles’ memories of the Banderites’ atrocities in Ukraine are still fresh, he remarked. "As for the Poles - okay, let’s leave them be, they have their own aims. When they sleep, they dream about gaining a firm foothold in Western Ukraine again, and it looks like they are moving gradually in this direction," Putin said.

Attempts to deny Holocaust

Putin wondered how the Holocaust could be denied.

"We keep saying the same thing again and again: that Bandera was an anti-Semite and a Nazi, but somehow no one wants to hear this," Putin said.

Once again, he recalled that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was "a man with Jewish blood" in his veins.

"But he covers for these freaks, these neo-Nazis, with his actions. Lenin was discounted - okay, that's their own business, although he is the founder of modern Ukraine. To hell with it. But why do you put Nazis on a pedestal?" Putin concluded.