Mila Kunis
Mila Kunis

Hollywood actress Mila Kunis, whose Jewish family were victims of the Holocaust in the Ukraine, has been the focus of an anti-Semitic slur by a prominent Ukrainian politician.

Kunis, 29, was labelled a "zhydovka" or "dirty jewess" by Igor Miroshnichenko, reported

The abuse angered the Jewish community, with groups writing to the Ukrainian government to complain.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Washington told Prime Minister Mykola Azarov by letter that it was an "insidious slur invoked by the Nazis".

Founder Rabbi Marvin Hier wrote: "Mila Kunis' family, like many thousands of other Ukrainian Jewish families, left the Ukraine in the first place because of anti-Semitism.

"We call on you to publicly condemn this attack."

Kunis was staying tight-lipped on the issue.

Miroshnichenko's use of the word has tapped into a national debate within Ukraine.

A petition calling for "zhydovka" to be outlawed in the country was rejected by the government, following protests by members of the Jewish community.

But in court, a judge ruled that the word was acceptable by refusing to ban it. According to some definitions it is not a slur, although it comes loaded with wartime cultural baggage.

Kunis has spoken previously about her family's background in the Ukraine. "My whole family was in the Holocaust. My grandparents passed and not many survived," she said.

"After the Holocaust, in Russia you were not allowed to be religious. So my parents raised me to know I was Jewish.

"You know who you are inside. When I was in school you would still see anti-Semitic signs.

"One of my friends who grew up in Russia was in second grade. She came home one day crying. Her mother asked why and she said on the back of her seat there was a swastika.

"This is a country that obviously does not want you."