KIEV, January 1. /TASS/. The supporters of ultra-right organizations staged rallies and marches in Kiev and other cities across Ukraine on Monday to mark the 109th birthday of leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, outlawed in Russia) Stepan Bandera.
The march in the center of Kiev, which gathered about a thousand nationalists carrying torches, lasted less than an hour. The march’s participants included members of the Svoboda nationalist party and the Right Sector movement (outlawed in Russia) and also the National Corps far-right party and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, a TASS correspondent reports from the scene.
They moved in a column from the monument to Taras Shevchenko in Vladimirskaya Street through the center of Kiev to Independence Square.
During their march, the nationalists chanted the slogans: "Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes," "Glory to the Nation, Death to Enemies," "Bandera will come and bring order," "Ukraine Is Above All."
About 1,200 police and 730 servicemen ensured security during the nationalists’ torch march in Kiev.
Similar nationalists’ marches were held in Lvov, Ternopol, Dnepr, Krivoi Rog, Rovno and Melitopol.
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Insurgent Army
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.