Mon, Jun 01, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Alleged war criminal dies in Quebec

NY Times news service

Suspected war criminal Vladimir Katriuk stands at his honeybee farm in Ormstown, Quebec, on April 25, 2012.

Photo: AP

Vladimir Katriuk, a Ukrainian-born beekeeper who was No. 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted Nazi war criminals, died this month in a hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, near where he lived. He was 93.

The cause was a stroke, his lawyer, Orest Rudzik, said.

Katriuk died just two weeks after Moscow demanded his extradition, which the Canadian government, vexed by Russian aggression in Ukraine, frostily rebuffed.

On Thursday last week, before Katriuk’s death became public, Canada’s Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs urged Ottawa to review the case and to “take the necessary steps to ensure that, if guilty, Katriuk be held accountable for war crimes committed in collaboration with the Nazi regime.”

Russia accused Katriuk of genocide in connection with the 1943 murder of civilians in Khatyn — not to be confused with the Katyn Forest in Russia, where in 1940 the Soviets massacred Polish officers — in what is now Belarus.

At the time, Katriuk was a sergeant in a Ukrainian battalion attached to Nazi storm troopers who rampaged eastward against Soviet partisans, overrunning villages like Khatyn. The troopers were accused of herding nearly 200 civilians into a barn in Khatyn, burning them alive and machine-gunning those who tried to flee.

Swedish academic Per Anders Rudling wrote in the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 2012 that the troopers, whether motivated by ambition, anticommunism, nationalism or a desire “to save their own skin,” had “enabled or participated in some of the most gruesome episodes in modern European history.”

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which was established to find and punish Nazi war criminals, said in an interview on Friday that the stumbling block to bringing Katriuk to justice was that “the most damning evidence against him was discovered relatively recently.”

“Of course, Katriuk’s death ends the case,” he said. “Because Russia asked for his extradition, finally there was a country that was willing to bring him to justice, but that did not happen because of contemporary politics.”

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