Archive for May, 2011

Recount no help as Borys Wrzesnewskyj loses seat (Updated)

May 24th, 2011 No comments

Edit: I’ve updated this post using a much more detailed Toronto Star article as opposed to the smaller CBC one I posted earlier.

In a nail biter that was decided by only 26 votes before and after the recount, Borys Wrzesnewskyj lost his seat and strong Liberal riding of Etobicoke Centre to Conservative Ted Opitz.

Update: There was a surprising number of people who seemed to have voted for Borys but filled out the ballot improperly, if there were more than 26 of these it could have delivered him a victory:

Over the long-weekend, about 800 questionable ballots were reviewed by a judge, with lawyers for the candidates making arguments for or against the admissibility of each.

There were plenty of problems, according to Wrzesnewskyj, who sat in a nearby room waiting for the final results on Sunday night.

Some voters simply circled their choice. Others couldn’t keep their X in the lines. Others just crossed out the names of candidates they presumably didn’t like.

A surprising number of voters used the ballot to write messages to their favorite candidates, Wrzesnewskyj said.

Some drew hearts.

In the meantime, a silver lining. After the “agonizing” recount process was complete, Wrzesnewskyj’s lawyers offered some encouragement.

“If it’s any consellation,” they told him. “None of the other candidates got hearts.”

Read the article

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‘Demjanjuk Verdict is a ‘Farce’’ – his Israeli defence lawyer

May 19th, 2011 No comments

Demjanjuk’s Israeli defence attorney from his successful acquittal of charges in Treblinka has come out in the press, protesting the verdict:

Israeli Attorney Yoram Sheftel responded on Thursday to the conviction and sentence of John Demjanjuk in Munich.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website, Sheftel said that the trial was distorted and unreal. “There was a shameful farce here,” he said. “Certainly the German court did not believe its own ruling.”

“There is no precedent in the 20th century in any legal system,” Sheftel said, “that a person who was convicted of helping to murder 28,000 people is released to his home immediately after his conviction and not sent to prison.”

Sheftel had served as Demjanjuk’s attorney when he was put on trial in Israel in the late 1980s, to face charges that he was the brutal Nazi-era Treblinka camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”

Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988, but appealed the decision and the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in 1993, saying that new evidence from the collapsed Soviet Union introduced doubt that Demjanjuk was indeed Ivan the Terrible.

Sheftel said that he is convinced that the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Demjanjuk was the true verdict he deserved.

“Nothing has changed since then,” he said. “Even during the trial in Germany, there was not one person who testified that Demjanjuk was Ivan from Sobibor, by virtue that he was seen there, and as such the conviction is a farce.”

Read the rest of the article, thanks to UkeMonde for pointing that out on his site

Yoram Sheftel was a brave man who defied Israeli society that villified him and his client in search for the truth that led to the acquittal of Demjanjuk as ‘Ivan the Terrible’. During the trial Sheftel became ‘the most hated man in Israel’, had his life threatened multiple times and endured an acid attack to the face. You can read a good summary of Demjanjuk’s trial in Germany here, including the fact there was no evidence of him committing a specific crime, with only an ID card produced by the KGB which the FBI has considered a fake.

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From Orange Revolution to Banana Republic (Videos)

May 16th, 2011 No comments

A few quick videos to watch to start out your work week. The first is from PBS NewsHour: Nearly 8 Years After the ‘Orange Revolution,’ Ukraine Runs Into Reversals and the other from Maidan: Ukraine. A Banana Republic Forever?! (about Members of Parliament who’s votes are submitted for them along party lines while in absentia). Enjoy!



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Demjanjuk sentenced to 5 year jail term in Germany, appeals decision (Updated)

May 12th, 2011 No comments

Sad news out of Germany as Demjanjuk has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for being an alleged ‘Nazi guard’ while being a Red Army POW, a stark contrast to the many high-ranking German Nazis who were never brought to trial by their own government:

A court in Germany has found John Demjanjuk guilty of helping kill nearly 28,000 Jews in a Nazi concentration camp.

The 91-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison by a Munich court on Thursday as an accessory to mass murder during his time as a guard at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

Earlier in the day Demjanjuk rejected an offer to make a final plea as 18-month trial came to a close.

Asked by judges whether he wanted to say any final words, Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, speaking through an interpreter, replied: “No”.

The judges also rejected requests by the defence to seek more evidence in the trial.


New German precedence – no proof of crime needed

There was no evidence that Demjanjuk committed a specific crime. The prosecution was based on the theory that if Demjanjuk was at the camp, he was a participant in the killing — the first time such a legal argument has been made in German courts.

Thomas Walther, who led the investigation that prompted Germany to prosecute Demjanjuk, said before the verdict that other low-ranking Nazi helpers could now face prosecution.

“It could be very soon that more are brought to the table,” he said. “This case is a door-opener.”

Read the rest of the article


Same evidence from prior trials – already proved forgery by USSR

Much of the case for the prosecution had rested on whether an identity card, made out by the SS to one Ivan Demjanjuk who was trained with them to become a prison guard and who was sent to Sobibor, was genuine and belonged to the accused.

The defence insisted it was a fake.

This is the same ID the FBI has scrutinized as being fabricated by the Soviet Union, but their testimony was not accepted into the trial:

The newly declassified FBI field office report, obtained by The Associated Press, casts doubt on the authenticity of a Nazi ID card that is the key piece of evidence in allegations that Demjanjuk served as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

The FBI agents argued that the Soviets had an interest in faking the documents as part of a campaign to smear anti-communist emigres. Those conclusions contradict the findings of another branch of the Department of Justice, the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI, which was in charge of the overall Demjanjuk probe.

It is unclear whether prosecutors in the U.S. and Israel knew about it.

The March 4, 1985, report, on FBI letterhead and marked “SECRET,” says the Cleveland office’s investigation “strongly indicated” a Soviet scheme to discredit “prominent emigre dissidents speaking out publicly and/or leading emigre groups in opposition to the Soviet leadership in the USSR.”

The defense has argued throughout the trial that the ID card is a clever fake, noting that Demjanjuk’s height and eye color don’t match and alleging there are indications the photograph was taken from old identity papers and glued to the card.

The OSI in the past has been accused of withholding evidence that could have cleared Demjanjuk.

In a 1993 review of the American denaturalization hearing that led to his extradition, a federal U.S. appeals panel concluded that the OSI engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct that seriously misled the court.”

A Department of Justice report from 2008 made public last November said the OSI’s handling of the Demjanjuk case was “the greatest mistake it ever made.”

The FBI report accuses the Soviets of anonymously feeding names of emigres to the United States as suspected Nazis. The OSI would then ask the Soviet Union for evidence from captured Nazi records, and “the KGB produces a record purporting to tie the accused with the commission of Nazi atrocities,” it said.

“In court, the KGB officer thereupon ‘shows’ the documents to the judge but does not permit the documents to be presented in evidence or to be otherwise copied,” it adds.

Read the rest of the article

Some background on this case

Demjanjuk was accused of working for six months at the Sobibor extermination camp in occupied Poland in 1943, during which time 27,900 Jews were gassed to death there.

The prosecution argued that if he worked as a camp guard, by definition, he was guilty of helping to kill all the Jews sent there at the time.

Demjanjuk said he fought in the Red Army before being captured by the Germans in 1942, and said that although he was recruited as a camp guard, he was not placed at Sobibor.

He said he remained a prisoner-of-war until the end of 1945, and later emigrated to the United States where he married and had a family.

Demjanjuk served nearly eight years in an Israeli prison, five of them on death row after being found guilty in the 1980s of serving as a guard in another death camp – Treblinka – where he went by the name “Ivan the Terrible”.

The Israeli supreme court later overturned the verdict and ordered his release on the grounds that he had likely been wrongly identified.

Read the rest of the article


The verdict is not final, as it is being appealed:

A German court has ordered John Demjanjuk released pending an appeal of his conviction as an accessory to murder at a Nazi death camp.

Presiding Judge Ralph Alt made the announcement as he wrapped up his verdict Thursday in the 91-year-old’s trial. It could take six months or more for an appeal verdict to come.

The Wisenthal Centre which has been behind all of Demjanjuk’s prosecution failed to convict him as Ivan The Terrible in Treblinka in the 1980’s. During that trail the Centre was already preparing for this Sobibor case, and if the appeal comes through, the next stop in this witch hunt is already planned in Spain for Flossenburg.

Update: Here’s a video of Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr.:

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Goodbye Michael Ignatieff and sadly, Borys Wrzesnewskyj

May 3rd, 2011 5 comments


Like it or not, the Conservatives reached their majority last night while the Liberals got their worst government in their history (since Confederation): 3rd place behind the NDP. With that, Michael Ignatieff announced today he has stepped down as leader of the Liberal party, after losing his Etobicoke-Lakeshore seat he was parachuted into back in 2006 (a very strong Liberal riding for many years).

Ignatieff was certainly no friend to the Ukrainian Canadian community, denouncing Ukrainian nationalism and labelling it anti-semitic in his book Blood and Belonging. He has never really renounced these passages.

From the BBC documentary adapted from his book ‘Blood and Belonging’


images[1]Sadly Etobicoke-Centre MP also Borys Wrzesnewskyj lost his seatto the Conservatives by only a mere 26 votes, and a recount will be under way. When Ignatieff became the Liberal leader in 2009, he sacked Borys from his shadow cabinet only to promote him back months later amid his sagging popularity. Borys was a champion for Ukrainian and Eastern European causes on Parliament Hill, and was instrumental in Canada passing a law recognizing the Holodomor as genocide. His service will be sorely missed from the community, thank you for all your hard work!

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