Last week, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland opened a can of worms by dismissing references to her family’s World War II history as Russian disinformation. That wasn’t entirely true, and in the current climate, history is politics.
Freeland was banned from entering Russia for her fiercely pro-Ukraine stand. When she became foreign minister in January, Moscow refused to lift the ban. Soon, the story of her maternal grandfather, Michael (Mykhailo) Chomiak, was circulating on pro-Russian websites.
Broadly, the story is true. The known facts were laid out by the independent U.S. investigative site Consortium News at the end of February. During World War II, Chomiak, a Ukrainian nationalist, edited a newspaper called Krakivski Visti — first in the Nazi-held Polish city of Krakow, then in Vienna — that ran articles praising Hitler and his appointees in occupied Eastern Europe and denouncing Jews. According to family lore, Chomiak helped anti-Nazi resistance forces by helping their fighters get German papers. When the war ended, Chomiak was in Germany; it took him some time to move his family to Canada.
Asked about Chomiak last week, Freeland batted away the question, saying “I don’t think it’s a secret. American officials have publicly said, and even Angela Merkel has publicly said, that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada.” (more...)
Chrystia Freeland’s dismissal of her family’s Nazi connection is only helping Russia’s propagandists