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House Speaker resigning over Nazi unit veteran tribute. What happens now?

The resignation of House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is set to take effect Wednesday evening.

Rota resigned on Tuesday amid international controversy after he invited a man who fought for the Nazis to attend a speech by the Ukrainian president last Friday.

He said he profoundly regrets calling attention to 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, a veteran of a Ukrainian voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis in the Second World War.

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Parliamentarians and dignitaries, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, gave two standing ovations to the man without knowing about his background.

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Rota stepped down after pressure from all sides of the House, including from the governing Liberals, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying the incident was deeply embarrassing for Canada.

House of Commons procedure dictates that as soon as Rota steps down, MPs must go through the process of electing a new Speaker before they can continue with their normal business.

Kremlin says Ottawa should condemn Nazism

The Kremlin said on Wednesday Rota’s resignation was insufficient and it said the whole parliament should publicly condemn Nazism.

Asked about the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “As for the resignation of the speaker of Parliament, well, of course, he took responsibility, but what about the Parliament itself, which stood up and clapped the fascist?”

“Of course, here reason dictates the need for some kind of denunciation of Nazism. Parliament must do this, and otherwise it is a Parliament that is tainted by this applause,” he said.

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Peskov, who on Tuesday said the incident showed a careless disregard for historical truth, urged Canada to “bring this criminal to justice.”

The episode has played into the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sent his army into Ukraine last year to “demilitarize and denazify” the country. Kyiv and its Western allies say Russia’s actions constitute an unprovoked war of aggression designed to grab territory.

The furor helped tarnish the visit by Zelenskyy, who thanked Canada for the billion of dollars in aid and weapons it has provided since Russia invaded in February 2022.

“The addiction of the Kyiv regime to the Nazi ideology is not news,” Peskov said on Wednesday.

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“The fact that Zelenskyy also stood and applauded the fascist (in the Canadian parliament) once again confirms this. And of course, we can only sympathize with the memory of Ukrainian veterans who fought fascism, including Zelenskyy’s grandfather.”

Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, says Moscow’s claims that his administration is run by Nazis are absurd.