OTTAWA, September 27. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to Ottawa Oleg Stepanov said the resignation of the speaker of the Canadian House of Commons on Tuesday was an expected move as the country’s liberal government sought to shield Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from a backlash over the recent appearance of a Nazi war veteran in parliament.
The diplomat made the comment after Anthony Rota announced on Tuesday that he was quitting as speaker of the lower house of the Canadian legislature.
"It was expected. They threw Rota under the bus to shield Trudeau and others from a backlash," the ambassador said. "This will not be the end of it. The conservative opposition will try to heap up pressure on the prime minister to earn more political points."
"The issue of the Nazi and Bandera legacy in Canada is lacking closure. The scandal has highlighted its presence for the entire country to see. It will make many Canadians think about it," Stepanov continued.
The diplomat suggested that it was the Ukrainian Canadian Congress that came up with the idea to invite Yaroslav Hunka, the Nazi veteran, to parliament, and that Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was made aware of the plan.
"The UCC, of which Hunka is a member, went to ground. There’s been no comments, and no questions asked by the media to this organization, although it would seem that intelligent people should ask them. So this story may be continued. Although, understandably, Trudeau and company will do their best to get themselves out of harm's way," the ambassador said.
Photos published by The Associated Press showed that, as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was speaking in the Canadian Parliament on September 22, the audience greeted Hunka, 98, who served in the 1st Ukrainian Division, also known as the SS Galician Division, during World War II. It was created in 1943 and made up of residents from western Ukraine. In July 1944 it was almost completely destroyed in the battle of Brody, then it was re-assembled and used in Slovakia, Yugoslavia and Austria. In May of 1945, its servicemen surrendered to British and US forces.