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No evidence Ukraine issued postage stamp honouring Nazi – barcode for 2022 stamp marking six months of war with Russia

IN SHORT: Russia claims it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” its neighbour. But after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the Canadian parliament when the house speaker honoured a man who had fought under the Nazis, his country did not issue a stamp with the man’s face on it.

“The Ukrainian Postal Service is now issuing stamps with the face of the WW2 Wafen SS Nazi Galicia cretin Yaroslav Hunko.”

That’s the caption to an image circulating on social media in several African countries since late September 2023.

The image seems to be a commemorative postage stamp set: an envelope with a stamp. The envelope shows a photo of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the words “HEROES DON’T DIE”. The stamp itself is a portrait of Yaroslav Hunka, who is 98 years old in 2023.

In the second world war Hunka fought for the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia division or the SS 14th Waffen Division. This volunteer unit was commanded by the Nazis. Hunka himself confirmed it in a 2011 memoir.

The Nazi Party ruled Germany from 1933 to the end of the war in 1945. It was also responsible for the Holocaust: the systematic murder of 6 million Jewish people and millions more Romani people, gay people, disabled people and others.

After the war, about 600 members of the First Ukrainian Division were invited to live in Canada. Hunka was among them.


Scandal in Canadian parliament

On 22 September 2023 Zelenskyy addressed the Canadian parliament. Anthony Rota, the speaker of the house, had invited Hunka to sit in the gallery. After the Ukrainian president’s speech, Rota called attention to Hunka, describing him as “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero”.

The 98-year-old was given two standing ovations by everyone in the chamber, including Zelenskyy.

This was quickly condemned by several Jewish groups, and by Russia.

Rota later apologised, saying none of his fellow parliamentarians or the Ukrainian delegation were aware of his plan to praise Hunka, or of the man’s history.

The photo of Zelensky on the envelope, and the portrait of Hunka on the stamp, are from the 22 September incident in Canada’s parliament.

The claim can also be seen on Facebook here, here and here, and on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter, here, here and here.

But has Ukraine really issued a stamp with Hunka’s face on it?

‘Free. Unbreakable. Invincible’ stamp issued in 2022

Russia has continued to justify its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and the ongoing war, as an attempt to “denazify” its neighbour. But there is no evidence that Ukraine is a Nazi country or has a Nazi government.

A barcode on the right of the image, on the supposed envelope, reveals that the postage set with Hunka’s portrait is fake.

The barcode number is 4823027150765. We googled “barcode lookup 4823027150765”. This did lead us to a Ukrainian postage stamp set, but not one honouring Hunka.

Instead, the set is named “Free. Unbreakable. Invincible”. It was issued on 24 August and is available for sale on several ecommerce sites.

The set can also be seen on Ukrposhta, Ukraine’s postal service website. Here it’s described as commemorating six months since the Russian invasion and honouring “Ukrainians who have become real heroes for the whole world”.

A search for “HEROES DON’T DIE” – the wording on the viral image – on the Ukrposhta website returned no results. 

There is no evidence that Ukraine “is now issuing stamps with the face of the WW2 Wafen SS Nazi Galicia cretin Yaroslav Hunko”.

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