MOSCOW (JTA) – Facebook has taken down dozens of pages containing a Russian-language phrase that combines a Ukrainian pejorative for “Jew” with the name of a nationalist whose troops murdered Jews. The removal of pages containing the phrase “Zhidbanderovets” occurred on April 22 after it was deemed by Facebook to violate the social network’s community standards against offensive speech, according to a report on the news website evreiskiy.kiev.ua. More than 1,000 people complained about the phrase, according to the report.
The controversial phrase means “Yid-Banderite.” “Banderite” refers to an admirer of the late Ukrainian nationalist figure Stepan Bandera, who fought alongside – and later against – the Nazis in the 1940s and whose troops massacred Ukrainian Jews. Bandera and his troops hoped the Nazis would allow them to gain independence from Russia. The terms became popular following the 2013 revolution in Ukraine, which had widespread support among local Jews despite the fact that it was led partially by nationalist admirers of Bandera. The revolution broke out over the alleged corruption of former president Viktor Yanukovych and his perceived allegiance to Russia. The term was applied to Jews supportive of the revolution by their pro-Russian critics, but also self-applied by Jewish Ukrainian nationalists.