SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's Ukrainian community has hit out at vandals who sprayed swastikas on the walls of a Ukrainian Catholic church in Sydney.
The symbols and hate messages were sprayed on the walls of the church in the western Sydney suburb of Lidcombe on Friday night, drawing condemnation from community leaders and politicians.
The chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, Stefan Romaniw, told Fairfax Media Sunday the vandals were "extremist" and that "what's happened in Sydney is inexcusable".
"We're all very passionate about what's happening in Ukraine, but the tensions are over there, and in terms of the community here we need to live in harmony," he said, warning it "could be a start of other things to happen".
"There are different forums where we can discuss differences in opinion." Father Simon Ckuj, the parish priest, told The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday the church partly commemorated Ukrainians who battled Nazism in World War II.
"This act completely defiles the memory of those who died fighting fascism," Ckuj said.
New South Wales Communities Minister Victor Dominello said the graffiti, which is being investigated by police, was "completely unacceptable".
"To use an international racial dispute to vilify a community in Sydney is abhorrent. The use of swastikas as a means of denigrating and attacking any community in NSW is utterly offensive," Dominello said.
Ukraine is facing its worst crisis since the break-up of the Soviet Union, with a unilateral ceasefire teetering in the balance Sunday amid a resurgence of violence in the 11-week pro-Russian uprising in the east.
Russia's official propaganda has depicted the new government in Kiev as dominated by fascist sympathisers.
Ukraine denies the allegations.