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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Ukraine rediscovers its Nazi past

Last Thursday, January 1, there was a huge demonstration in Kiev to honor the memory of Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator during World War II.
Via AFP:
The march on what would have been Stepan Bandera’s 106th birthday moved along the same streets on which hundreds of thousands rallied for three months last winter before ousting a Moscow-backed president.
Some wore World War II-era army uniforms while others draped themselves in the red and black nationalist flags and chanted “Ukraine belongs to Ukrainians” and “Bandera will return and restore order”.
“The Kremlin is afraid of Bandera because he symbolises the very idea of a completely independent Ukraine,” Lidia Ushiy said while holding up a portrait of the far-right icon at the head of the march.
Bandera is a mythical but immensely divisive figure in Ukraine whom some compare to Cuba’s Che Guevara.
His movement’s slogan — “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!” — was also the catchphrase of last year’s pro-European revolt.
As noted above, the marchers in Kiev are honouring what amounts to be a Pro-Nazi Ukrainian nationalist, chanting that he will return and set Ukraine free.
Western propaganda, and shoddy AFP reporting aside, Bandera is not a “mythical” figure. He was a very real and polarising person, who ordered the death of hundreds of thousands of Poles, Jews, and Russians during WW2.
So who is this Ukrainian nationalist messiah? Via Wikipedia:
Stepan Andriyovych Bandera was a Ukrainian political activist and leader of the Ukrainian nationalist and independence movement.
In 1934, he was arrested in Lwów (in Ukrainian, Lviv) by Polish authorities and was tried twice: for involvement in the assassination of the Polish minister of internal affairs, Bronisław Pieracki; and at a general trial of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists executives. He was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
In September 1939, while Poland was being invaded, under unclear circumstances Bandera managed to get freed from prison and proceeded to work, with German support, for an uprising in the Kresy. These eastern Polish territories had a majority Ukrainian population, and went on to become modern Western Ukraine. At the same time, he tried to stoke unrest in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, modern Eastern Ukraine. His goal was to establish a unified Ukrainian state, composed of areas inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians, but that had been under the control of Poland and the Soviet Union.
After the war, in 1959, in Munich, Germany, Bandera was assassinated by the Soviet KGB (secret police).
Assessments of his work have ranged from totally apologetic to sharply negative. On 22 January 2010, the outgoing President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine. The award was condemned by European Parliament, Russian, Polish and Jewish organizations and was declared illegal by the following Ukrainian government and a court decision in April 2010. In January 2011, the award was officially annulled.
The US and most of Europe is silent about what's going on in Ukraine. The only one who seems concerned is Czech Republic President Milos Zenman.
Here are some words of truth and sanity from one of the last leaders left in Europe (from Zenman’s interview on Pravo, a Czech daily newspaper):
“From the statements by PM Yatsenyuk, I think that he is a ‘prime minister of war’, because he does not want a peaceful solution to the crisis [in Ukraine] recommended by the European Commission.” Yatsenyuk wants to solve Ukrainian conflict “by the use of force.”
According to Zeman, the current policy of Kiev authorities has two “faces.” The first is the “face” of the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, who “may be a man of peace.”
The second “face” is that of PM Yatsenyuk, who has an uncompromising position toward self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine.
Zeman said he doesn’t’ believe that the February coup, during which then-President Viktor Yanukovich was deposed from power, was a democratic revolution at all.
“Maidan was not a democratic revolution, and I believe that Ukraine is in a state of civil war,” Zeman said, responding to what he described as “poorly informed people” who compared Maidan with Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Via ITAR TASS News Agency:
That the European Union has refrained from saying at least something critical about the recent torch-light street procession by neo-Nazis in Kiev is a sure sign some something is fundamentally wrong with the EU, Czech President Milos Zeman said on a local radio station. The procession and the way it had been prepared looked pretty much like Nazi parades in Hitler’s Germany before World War II.
“Something is going wrong with Ukraine. On the Internet I saw a video of a crowd of several thousand demonstrating in Kiev’s Independence Square. They were carrying portraits of Stepan Bandera. I saw that portrait for the first time. He (Bandera) reminded me of Reinhard Heydrich (the chief of Nazi Germany’s main security office and acting Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia – TASS),” Zeman said.
“Something is going wrong with Ukraine and something is going wrong with the European Union, which has failed to protest that demonstration,” Zeman said.
 There are 70,000 Jews in Ukraine. What could go wrong?

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