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Ukrainian parliament defines WWII nationalist insurgent army as independence fighters

April 09, 2015, 14:35 UTC+3
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is an ultra-right political organization that worked for German intelligence during World War II
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Ukrainian nationalists march in Kiev

Ukrainian nationalists march in Kiev

© Konstantin Cherginsky/TASS

KIEV, April 9. /TASS/. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, acknowledged on Thursday that the activity of OUN-UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - Ukrainian Insurgent Army) was the fight for the country’s independence.

In the second reading on Thursday, the lawmakers adopted a law on the legal status and honoring the memory of participants of the fight for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century.

A total of 271 lawmakers voted in favor of the decision, above the required minimum of 226 votes.

"The law envisages that the state recognizes the fight for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century and defines a legal status of the participants for the fight for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century," an explanatory note to the document reads.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is an ultra-right political organization in western Ukraine in the 1930's-50's of the last century. To reach the goal of establishing Ukraine as an independent state, it used extremist means, including terrorist attacks.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists during World War II worked for German intelligence. In 1943, OUN organized the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), forming the backbone of the SS Division Galicia. OUN-UPA militants killed at least a million people, including almost 200 thousand Poles.

During President Viktor Yushchenko’s office term in 2005 an attempt was undertaken in Ukraine to reconcile the OUN-UPA veterans with veterans of the Soviet army. However, according to public opinion polls, the majority of Ukrainians were ready to support reconciliation of the veterans of the Soviet and German armies, rather than veterans of OUN-UPA and the Red Army.

In 2010, Yushchenko issued a decree on awarding posthumously the title of Hero of Ukraine to Stepan Bandera (OUN active figure since 1929, since 1940 — head of the OUN faction).

Members of the European parliament then officially expressed regret over this fact and urged the then-newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovych to revise Yushchenko’s decisions. A year later, by a decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine, this decree was finally declared illegal. Polish media previously claimed that the glorification of Ukrainian nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, as well as President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to move the February 23 army holiday celebration to the date of the UPA formation testify to the fact that the cult of nationalism in Ukraine has penetrated into the power structures of the highest level.

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