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Demonstrators Demand Official Recognition Of WWII Ukrainian Insurgent Army

Liberty Union supporters demand recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

Liberty Union supporters demand recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

KYIV -- Ukraine's nationalist "Svoboda" (Liberty) Union held a demonstration in Kyiv on October 14 to demand official recognition of the World War II-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Some 1,000 demonstrators displayed banners with Ukraine's national symbols and national flags. They chanted "National recognition for the UPA!" and "Long live Ukraine, glory to the heroes!"

At the same time, some 150 members and supporters of the Communist Party of Ukraine gathered near the monument to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in Kyiv holding red Soviet banners and placards saying: "We remember Bandera's brutalities!" and "No to Bandera and Shukhevych!"

The UPA was formed in 1943 and was the military wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists headed by Stepan Bandera. The UPA is revered primarily in western Ukraine as a military force that fought against Nazi Germany and Soviet forces for Ukrainian independence.

In eastern Ukraine, where most of the country's ethnic Russians live, the UPA is thought to have collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. Many there consider UPA members traitors. I

In January 2010, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko declared Bandera a Hero of Ukraine. That posthumous recognition met with mixed reactions.

Yushchenko had named a second UPA leader, Roman Shukhevych, who died in 1950, a Hero of Ukraine in 2007.

October 14 is marked by Ukrainian nationalists as the anniversary of the founding of the UPA and as the day of Ukrainian Cossacks.