Accessibility links

Western Ukraine Deputies Dismiss Criticism Over Controversial War-Era Nationalist

A statue of Stepan Bandera in Lviv

A statue of Stepan Bandera in Lviv

LVIV -- Regional councils in Western Ukraine have dismissed European criticism of a decision to bestow hero status on a controversial World War II-era nationalist leader, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The European Parliament last week adopted a resolution in which it criticized former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's decision to grant Stepan Bandera the title Hero of Ukraine.

Bandera fought against both German troops and Soviet forces in World War II. While he is lauded as a hero in the western part of Ukraine, he is considered a traitor by many in the eastern, largely pro-Russian part of the country.

In a statement passed at an extraordinary session today, the Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk regional councils and Ivano-Frankivsk city council said the European Parliament had misjudged Bandera's role.

The deputies said the resolution on Bandera was based on false information and called on the European Parliament to review its position.

Lviv regional council deputy Oleh Krystyniak told RFE/RL that the European Parliament's position was "an insult to Ukrainians, because the OUN [the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] in March 1939 was the first to take up arms to oppose Hitler's plans for the division of Europe. He refused to collaborate with the Nazis."

The glorification of Bandera has also been criticized by Russian and Polish leaders and Jewish groups.