KIEV, January 1. /TASS/. The supporters of ultra-right organizations staged torch marches in Kiev and other cities across Ukraine to mark the 110th birthday of leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, outlawed in Russia) Stepan Bandera, TASS reports from the scene.
In Kiev, the torch march organized by the Right Sector, Svovoda (Freedom) and National Corps groups (outlawed in Russia) gathered about 2,000 nationalists.
Among the marchers, there were leaders of ultra-right political forces, deputies of the parliament and representatives of Ukrainian regions. They marched in two columns from the Taras Shevchenko Park and the opera theater to the Independence Square where they held a rally.
The marchers carried lit torches, the flags of Ukraine and nationalist organizations in their hands. They chanted anti-Russian slogans.
During World War II, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, collaborating with the Nazi intelligence agencies, waged war against the Soviet authorities. In 1943, it established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA). In February 1943, Ukrainian nationalists launched a campaign aimed at exterminating the Polish population of Ukraine’s Volyn region. Their activities culminated on July 11, 1943 in a bloodbath, when the OUN-UIA units attacked nearly 100 Polish settlements slaughtering around 100,000 people, primarily women, children and the elderly.
After Ukraine was liberated from Nazi occupation, the UIA turned around to fight against the Red Army, Soviet law enforcement, Communist party members and intellectuals coming from the eastern part of the country. The UIA headquarters and units were formally dismissed on September 3, 1949, but its small separate groups remained active until 1956.
The figure of Stepan Bandera, leader of the 20th century Ukrainian nationalist movement, who closely collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II, is still tearing Ukrainian society apart. Feelings towards him range from complete support in some western parts of Ukraine to fiercely antagonistic attitudes towards him in the rest of the country.
In 1941-1959, Bandera headed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, so its members are called "Banderites". Given the reign of terror and waves of massacres carried out before and during World War II, it is no surprise that Poland considers Bandera to be a criminal and a terrorist.
On July 22, 2016, the Polish parliament passed a document declaring the crimes committed by the OUN and UIA against the Polish population in 1943 and 1944, a genocide. Meanwhile, in 2015, Ukraine’s parliament recognized their activities as the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.