Ukraine WW2 Nationalist Veterans Seek Recognition

KIEV, Ukraine -- Fighters from a Ukrainian World War Two guerrilla movement and their backers gathered on Saturday to demand official recognition as war combatants despite resistance from pro-Russian groups and Red Army veterans.

A woman gives flowers to a veteran of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought both Nazis and Soviet forces in World War Two, as they attend a service in Kiev's St Sofia Cathedral October 14, 2006.

Riot police halted several hundred leftists who had intended to march down Kiev's main street to confront veterans marking the 64th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought both Nazi invaders and Soviet forces.

Minor scuffles erupted, but there was no repeat of the running street battles that marked commemorations a year ago.

A handful of elderly UPA fighters, surrounded by 3,000 sympathizers, filed through the city center holding aloft a giant blue and yellow national flag and massing by 11th century St Sofia Cathedral, one of Orthodoxy's most sacred shrines.

"Glory to the nation!" marchers shouted, recalling UPA's wartime slogan. Comrades echoed back: "Death to our Enemies!"

Unhealed wartime wounds expose gaps pitting Ukraine's nationalist west, more prone to seek inspiration in the West, against the Russian-speaking east, more sympathetic to Moscow.

Nationalists want authorities to grant the dwindling number of UPA fighters status as war combatants with veterans' pensions. Leftists denounce any such notion as an affront to the memory of more than 27 million Soviet war dead.

"We don't expect this government or president to solve this issue," said UPA veteran Teodor Yachun, 79, medals gleaming on his green uniform. "We see no light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness."

President Viktor Yushchenko, brought to power with the help of nationalists in the 2004 "Orange Revolution," is cautious on recognition. Veterans are wary of his calls for reconciliation, citing postwar Germany and Spain following its civil war.

"How can you possibly reconcile a victim with his hangman?" Yachun said.

Nationalists repressed when Moscow seized western Ukraine from Poland in 1939 under the Nazi-Soviet pact joined the UPA en masse under Nazi occupation to try to win an independent state.

At its peak in 1943, UPA had 100,000 men in its ranks. The very mention of UPA and its leader Stepan Bandera was virtually a post-war criminal offence as its fighters continued to resist Soviet rule well into the 1950s.

Tens of thousands of other Ukrainians donned Nazi uniforms and fought the Red Army in a unit known as the SS Galicia.

Soviet Ukraine suffered huge losses in what many Russians and Ukrainians still refer to as the Great Patriotic War.

Source: Reuters

Comments

Sokyra Peruna said…
Beside of the fact, that the members of UPA fight against the germans and the soviets, they took actively part in the killing of jewish, polish, ukrainian and russian civilists. So beside of their glorification as "independence-freedom fighters" they were just a bunch of war criminals with a fascist ideology.
No friendship with any anti-Semitic scumbag.
Anonymous said…
ya staboi Sokyra Peruna!!! Pashli banderavzyy nahui!
Anonymous said…
Hmmm? And the Soviets didn't kill any innocent people did they?! How convenient for them.

Then what were all the mass graves found in Poland of Polsih freedom fighters who were one the side of the Soviet Army and were then conveniently eliminated so there would be no Polish resistance after the Soviet Invasion of that country and many others after WWII. This, not to mention many other innocents that were killed and starved to death by Stalin.
Anonymous said…
It is a shame that the historically significant Ukrainian
Guerilla Army is still being slandered, now that ( with national independance) it cannot be officially ignored nor buried by Soviet terror tactics.

Having met with a number of UPA's survivng veterans and studied the objective record it is clear that although formed from a resistence to pre-WW2 Polish apartheid, the UPA was active against the violent fascism of both the Reich AND much more so of the USSR.

It seems that current 'hard feelings' are coming from those pathetic elements who still favor Russian colonialization over a free Ukraina.
csipike said…
I need help dudes. My grandfather ha's been burried in Kiev in 1945.
I trying to find the graveyard Al that i know is... he died in a special hospital nr.4561 from Mala Zitomirskaya street and was buried in hospital's cemetery. He's been a hungarian soldier has 28 yr.old .and he doesn't guilty because this stupid war.
Thank you and please help me anyone