Friday, August 26, 2016

News / From Our Bureaus

Yushchenko Grants Hero Status To Controversial Ukrainian Nationalist

Stepan Bandera
KYIV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has declared World War II-era nationalist leader Stepan Bandera a Hero of Ukraine, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Yushchenko, who made the announcement at Kyiv ceremonies marking Ukrainian Unity Day, said he awarded Bandera for defending national ideas and fighting for an independent Ukraine.

Bandera led Ukrainian nationalist forces against both German and Soviet troops during World War II and even headed an armed struggle against Soviet rule in Ukraine into the 1950s.

Bandera's grandson, also named Stepan, received the award for his grandfather. He told RFE/RL that he welcomed the timing of the decree.

"Even though it was a surprise to me, the president acted wisely," he said. "[Yushchenko] could have done it earlier, but that would have been perceived as an attempt to win votes."

Yushchenko placed fifth in the first round of the presidential elections in Ukraine on January 17.

Bandera remains a controversial figure in Ukraine, where he is lauded as a hero in the western part of the country but considered a traitor by many in the eastern part, which is largely pro-Russian.

Presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych's opposition Party of Regions said in a statement today that granting Bandera "hero status" is a step that divides Ukraine.

Bandera's grandson said he disagrees with that assessment. He told RFE/RL that he recently suggested to the Party of Regions that he be allowed to conduct an information campaign about Bandera, but his offer was rejected.

Bandera told RFE/RL that there are still some political leaders in Ukraine who use Soviet myths and false information in talking about his grandfather.

Official Soviet sources claimed that members of Bandera's movement had engaged in killing civilians in western Ukraine and helped to form Nazi SS divisions during World War II.

Bandera, who was born in western Ukraine in 1909, was arrested by the Nazis in 1941 and spent a few years in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was assassinated by a KGB agent in Munich in 1959.
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Comments page of 2
by: Anonymous
January 25, 2010 19:18
A moment of justice for a man assasinated by stalins thugs

by: Political Dissident
January 26, 2010 07:45
In comparison, an arguably greater case can be made for giving an honor to Denikin and Vlasov as heroes of Russia.

by: Political Dissident
January 26, 2010 07:52
What "false myths" about Bandera?

- Didn't his forces commit a good deal of atrocities against Poles, Jews and Ukrainians opposed to him?

- Outside of western Ukraine (especially Galicia), the Ukrainian support for him is limited. On this point, include diaspora west Ukrainians (especially Galicians) as being linked to western Ukraine.

- His biggest supporters seem to include some extremist if not bigoted views towards some other groups.

by: roobs from: Czech Republic
January 26, 2010 12:39
Pretty despicable example of RFE/RL outrageous propaganda." Official Soviet sources claimed that members of Bandera's movement had engaged in killing civilians" Really, only official Soviet sources, and no unofficial ones? No Poles? No Jews? I mean this is pretty revolting propaganda (not just a pro-Nazi/pro-Yuschenko slant). Revealing that Osama, sorry Obama (well, the difference between the two is just one letter) continues to fund this propagandist cesspool (RFE/RL) with US taxpayers money.

by: Emil from: Tbilisi
January 26, 2010 13:52
One may argue whether he was a hero and a martyr, but can anyone deny that he was a racist and a classical terrorist?
Not to speak about the moral aspect, it was a very silly act politically.
As to Denikin and Vlasov, I would like to remind Mr. Political Dissident of the fact that, unlike Bandera and Vlasov, Anton Ivanovich never collaborated with Nazi.

by: Political Dissident
January 26, 2010 15:06

Vlasov was a nominal ally of the Nazis who later went against them.

He never supported the Nazi plan to make Russia a living space slave state. His Russian patriotic views got him in trouble with some of the key Nazi ideologues.

It's somewhat rhetorical to call Vlasov a Nazi collaborator, given how Stalin and the West had carried on with the Nazis.

Vlasov wasn't responsible for as many Russian deaths as Stalin. Vlasov's troops weren't involved in atrocities like the Ustasha, Bandera's forces and some others during WW II.

Prague was the last scene of European WW II fighting. Vlasov's army was involved in the liberation of Prague.

by: Cristian
January 26, 2010 15:48
So I guess he didn't want his country to be under either Soviet or Nazi control. As a Romanian born citizen, I can fully empathize with that.

I don't know if his zeal for his country/ideals has not led him to make mistakes but I can tell you that I can fully understand his desire for independence from the Ruassian Soviet dictatorship.

by: Political Dissident
January 26, 2010 17:48

You shouldn't rule out the possibility that anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet doesn't automatically mean someone/something virtuous.

BTW, a number of Ukrainian nationalists of west Ukrainian origin have had issues with Romania/Romanians.

You're aware of the roughly 20% ethnic Moldovan/Romanian population in Bukovina?

People who negatively speak of the "Russian Soviet dictatorship" downplay the non-Russian contribution to the development and support for Communism in Europe.

by: Olya from: New Jersey, USA
February 01, 2010 17:41
Its to SB and other nationalists we owe our gratitude, that MANY years later, Ukraine is finally a free country. A country that can now select its direction and what it will become. Do the post-war generations have to SEE with their own eyes people being dragged to their deaths, or someone slaughtered on the street to understand what Totalitarianism truly means ???? You need to step away from the finger-pointing and take a look at the bigger picture.

by: Anonymous
February 03, 2010 21:24
"Official Soviet sources claimed that members of Bandera's movement had engaged in killing civilians in western Ukraine and helped to form Nazi SS divisions during World War II." Hmm, also historians and the Simon Wisenthal Center.
Comments page of 2