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Anguish and Fear for the 150,000 Greeks Living in Ukraine

oukrania-ellines1Anguish, unrest and fear prevails in the ranks of the 150,000 Greeks who live in Ukraine and particularly in Crimea since the neo-Nazi Right Sector controls the situation there. According to the Russian agency Interfax, armed men seized the regional government headquarters and the parliament in Crimea, thus rekindling fears of separatism in the pro-Russian area.

At the same time, right-wing political groups in Ukraine declared that they plan on evicting all national minorities, a fact that terrifies them since significant Greek communities with full social structure and Ukraine consciousness still exist in the area.

As it appears, the Greeks are a target of the powerful neo-Nazi organization of Ukraine’s Right Sector, the right-wing group which has the Wolfsangel (reverse swastika)  as a symbol and played a significant role in the violent incidents of the past weeks.

The president of the Federation of Greek Associations of Ukraine spoke of a threatening atmosphere and terrible beatings.

Alexandra Protsenko is the president of the Federation of Greek Communities which numbers 150,000 people with Greek origins. In her statement, she noted that they panicked watching the news on the TV and the changes that take place in the country. She also underlined that the Greeks of Ukraine stay united and they do not face any problems as they did not have any role in the recent incidents. However, there is a minor concern for some right-wing extremists who ask for people who do not speak Ukrainian, either to go to jail or leave the country.

On the other hand, Mrs. Protsenko stated that there are eleven MPs of Greek origin who faced some problems but the Federation stays in contact with them as they are interested in having a strong Greek presence in the Parliament regardless of who is in charge. Moreover, she highlighted that she is in constant contact with both the consulates of Greece in Mariupol and Odessa as well as with the embassy in Kiev.

The Greeks of Ukraine

With the onset of perestroika, began the effort of the national revival of the large Hellenism in Ukraine. According to the census records of 2001, the Greeks, now Russian speakers, totaled about 93,000. They argue that their real number is much higher and reaches 150,000 people since many did not declare their true national identity because of their fear and the post-Soviet national insecurity.

The Greek communities are scattered across the country with the main concentration being in the Mariupol area where Greek villages are numbered to be about 40. Greek communities exist in Odessa, on Romania’s border, in Kharkiv and Lviv which is considered to be the birthplace of extreme Ukranian nationalism.

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