Anti-Semitic Party Wins 12% of Seats in Ukraine Parliament

Svoboda party to be well-represented in Ukraine's parliament after winning 12.3 percent of the vote.

An anti-Semitic party called Svoboda will be well-represented in Ukraine's parliament after winning 12.3 percent of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Ukraine's ruling Regions Party, headed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, came out on top with 28.1 percent of the vote, according to a forecast based on a national exit poll.

According to the forecast, only five of the 22 parties that ran will enter parliament. The united opposition party, Fatherland, led by Arseny Yatsenyuk, took 24.7 percent of the vote, coming in second.

In third place was the UDAR party, led by Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, which won 15.1 percent; it was followed by the Svoboda party and the communist party, with 11.8 percent.

These results are considered a rousing success for the latter three parties; UDAR is a new party, while Svoboda got only 0.7 percent of the vote during the last elections, and the communists managed to double their strength.

Svoboda, which has extreme nationalist and anti-Semitic positions, also opposes cooperation with Russia. Several complaints were filed against the party's leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, for incitement and racist and anti-Semitic remarks, such as saying Ukraine was being run by a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" and calling to "stop Jewish expansion."

Party members, who tend to be young, have been linked to several anti-Semitic attacks, including the torching of synagogues and Jewish cultural centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.

The party, whose name means "Freedom," also opposes the mass visits of Breslov Hasidim to the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov in Uman, and has in the past tried to "defend Ukrainian rights" at the site, until the party's representatives were forcibly removed.

The Ukrainian parliament has 450 seats. The Regions Party is expected to have 149-157 seats, compared to Fatherland, which will have 122. Neither UDAR or Svoboda plan to sit in a Regions-led coalition, but with the communists the Regions party could achieve a parliamentary majority.

AP