In Kiev, a meeting of Ukrainian OUN nationalist extremists. They are a group supported by some in the West. A picture IS worth a thousand words, no?
On Thursday, on the first day of the New Year, members of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) marched with torches in the centre Kiev to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, the founder of the OUN. Similar marches were held is some cities in the western part of the Ukraine. In late December, the Ukrainian parliament approved a decree of President Viktor Yushchenko on state holidays. Stepan Bandera's birthday, celebrated on 1 January, was at the top of the list, despite the fact that he is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people, including Ukrainians, in the 1930s and 40s.
At the beginning of World War II, his OUN joined the German fascists in fighting the Soviet Red Army. After Germany surrendered, members of the OUN continued guerrilla warfare against the Soviet régime for 10 more years. Stepan Bandera, who fled to the West together with the remaining Nazi invaders, was, according to Western sources, shot dead with a cyanide gas gun by a KGB assassin, Bogdan Stashynsky, in Munich in 1959.
Today, the Ukrainian government is trying to make Bandera a national hero, saying that he fought against both the Nazis and the Red Army to liberate the Ukraine. Mr Yushchenko called Bandera a "symbol of the fight for independence of our native land". A few monuments to Bandera have been erected in the Ukraine, and his biography is studied in school. However, experts outside the Ukraine call this an attempt to distort the history of World War II and whitewash the past of former Nazi supporters.
Konstantin Zatulin, the Director of the Institute for the CIS, commented, "Certainly, today, Ukrainian historians feel free to invent different stories to prove that it was possible to fight against Hitler and the Red Army at the same time. But, there was no third way during that war. We must admit that the real aim of the OUN was to oppose the struggle of the Soviet army against the Nazi invaders. The nationalists imposed their ideology on the people in the occupied territories. Thusly, all 'foreigners', Poles, Jews, or Russians, were treated like non-persons, and were potential victims of OUN terrorism. Therefore, that is why there will never be any compromise about the actions of Banderovtsy (a term for the OUN bandits: editor's notes), and they do not merit a place in the history books".
Russia opposes any attempts to whitewash the Nazi criminals and their collaborator accomplices in all forums. Therefore, the RF Gosduma formed a special working group, headed by Konstantin Zatulin, to issue a corresponding draft bill that would offer a legal basis to government policies aimed at opposing the distortion of the history of World War II and the casting of aspersions at the great victory of the anti-Hitler coalition.
2 January 2009
Voice of Russia World Service