An official Russian social media account slammed the Ukrainian community in Aotearoa – calling them “Nazis”.
On Tuesday, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in New Zealand posted a tweet calling members of the Ukrainian community “Nazis” and “Russophobe”.
The tweet features a photo of a Facebook post from the Ukrainian Association of New Zealand, with a red banner across the top that reads “100% Russophobic”.
The caption reads: “Warning! Russophobia in NZ! It could be interesting for Russians and Kiwis…everywhere to learn what Ukro-Nazis living in New Zealand think of Russian people in general.
* PM Jacinda Ardern says more sanctions on Russia being considered, as Ukraine urges her to surrender
* Jacinda Ardern won’t expel Russian ambassador despite Putin’s nuclear aggression
* Government could expel Russian ambassador, as Putin escalates war in Ukraine
* Ukraine from the Russian Embassy publishes a call for the expulsion of the ambassador
The embassy post has fueled increasingly tense divisions within the Russian community in New Zealand and reignited calls for the expulsion of Russian ambassador to Aotearoa, Georgy Zuev.
The tweet has now garnered over 650 comments, while the same post on Facebook has had the comment feature disabled.
Yuriy Gladun – president of the Ukrainian Association of New Zealand (Northern Regions) and author of the Facebook post used in the tweet – said the embassy post was “extremely offensive and derogatory”.
“The Russian Embassy is an embedded pro-Kremlin propaganda machine in New Zealand that the government must shut down,” he said.
Gladun’s Facebook post was written in response to calls from Russian-Kiwis to open New Zealand’s borders to those who fled Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘partial mobilisation’ of 300 000 reserve soldiers on September 22.
He condemned the invasion of Ukraine and those who left Russia only after the partial mobilization, six months after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, he said.
In the week after Putin’s announcement, more than 194,000 Russian nationals are estimated to have fled to neighboring Georgia, Kazakhstan and Finland.
“Where were these people six months ago? And why – now that they are in countries where they are allowed to speak freely – aren’t they speaking out against the Russian regime? said Gladun.
Kate Turska, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Mahi Organization for Ukraine, said the reference to Ukrainian Nazis was “designed to … divert attention from the blatantly fascist tendencies of the Russian state“.
Although Mahi for Ukraine had previously campaigned for the expulsion of the Russian ambassador, the embassy’s tweet had prompted the group to escalate its calls for Zuev to be sent back to Russia.
Turska said she was particularly worried that the embassy would echo the kind of terminology Putin originally used to justify February’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking on behalf of the Russian-Speaking Integrity Alliance in New Zealand, Elena Nikiforova called the embassy’s tweet a “blatant lie”.
“We would like to express our full solidarity with the Ukrainian community.
“We members of New Zealand’s diverse Russian-speaking community have experienced no hostility or ‘Russophobia’ in this country and are very grateful for the peaceful, free and democratic way of life that we all enjoy here,” says Nikiforova.
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Nanaia Mahuta mentioned Things has a statement issued on October 1condemning Russia’s attempt to illegally annex parts of Ukraine – three days before the Tweet went live.
“I have instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to call the Russian Embassy, convey New Zealand’s strong opposition to the actions taken by Russia in recent days and call on Russia to cease its attempts to illegally annex Ukrainian territory,” Mahuta said. said in the press release.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that while they “reject the harmful and inaccurate narratives that Putin’s regime has provided”, maintaining diplomatic relations with Russia “remains key to our ability to express our strong condemnation directly to Russia”.
The Russian Embassy in New Zealand did not respond to requests for comment.