MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called Canada’s former parliament speaker an “idiot” after the legislature celebrated a Ukrainian World War II veteran who had fought alongside the Nazis.
Putin was referring to an embarrassing incident that marred a visit to Canada by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month.
During a visit to parliament by Zelensky, parliament speaker Anthony Ruta hailed an elderly Ukrainian immigrant from his district as a hero, prompting a standing ovation. Ruta resigned after it was revealed that the veteran had served in a Nazi-linked military unit.
“If the speaker of the Canadian parliament says that during World War II this Canadian-Ukrainian or Ukrainian-Canadian Nazi fought against the Russians, he cannot help but understand that he fought on the side of Hitler,” Putin said.
“Let’s assume he doesn’t know this,” the Russian leader said at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club.
“But if he doesn’t know that Hitler and his minions fought against Russia during the war, then he’s an idiot. It means he just didn’t go to school.”
And if the parliament speaker knew the Ukrainian veteran had fought alongside the Nazis “then he is a wretch,” he added. “Either this or that.”
“It looked absolutely disgusting that everyone applauded this Nazi, especially the president of Ukraine, who has Jewish blood in his veins.”
Following the diplomatic turmoil Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered an “unreserved” apology to Zelensky and “the Ukrainian delegation for the position they were put in.”
Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022, claiming that the pro-Western country was celebrating pro-Nazi figures and had to be “de-nazified.”