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Bandera Supporters March In Kyiv

Thousands March In Kyiv For Divisive Nationalist Heroi
January 02, 2014
Thousands of people took part in a torchlight procession on January 1 in Kyiv to mark the 105th birthday of nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. Bandera, who died 55 year ago, remains a deeply divisive figure in Ukraine, glorified by many in western Ukraine as a freedom fighter but dismissed in eastern and southeastern Ukraine as a traitor to the Soviet Union's struggle against the Nazis. (Video by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Kyiv to commemorate their leader, Stepan Bandera.

Carrying torches, the nationalists marched in the evening on January 1 to mark his 105th birthday.

Bandera is a divisive figure in Ukraine. In western Ukraine, he is hailed as a freedom fighter. But in eastern Ukraine he is seen as a traitor who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Kyiv has been the scene of massive pro-European protests for more than a month, triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to shelve a deal on closer ties with the European Union.

The nationalists are also pro-Europe, but the march was separate to the protest encampment in central Kyiv.

In January 2010, less than a month before his term in office was to end, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko posthumously decorated Bandera with the Hero of Ukraine award.

That led to harsh criticism from Jewish and Russian groups. The award was annulled by a court in January 2011 under Yanukovych.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and AP

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