Radical Communists Clash With Ukraine Police In Mass Demonstrations

KIEV, Ukraine -- Hundreds of radical communists clashed with police during mass demonstrations in Kiev on Saturday marking Ukraine’s divisive World War Two history.

Socialists and supporters of Red Army veterans rally against calls by Ukrainian partisans to receive official recognition as World War II veterans in front of a line of riot police blocking the main street downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006.

An estimated 200 members of the extreme-left Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) attempted to break through police cordons separating them from Ukraine nationalist marchers.

Ukrainian rightists and nationalists in annual street marches on October 14 commemorate partisans that fought in World War Two.

The demonstrations are always tense, as some Ukrainian partisans fought against the Soviet Union’s Red Army.

Fists, clubs, and riot shields were used in the brawl. PSPU activists and police were roughly evenly matched in the 10-minute melee, until a paramilitary police unit fired an ‘unspecified gas’ into the crowd, dispersing the combatants.

One civilian participant in the battle was treated by an emergency medical team for minor injuries.

An estimated 5,000 former partisans, their supporters, and a small minority of partisan opponents had gathered in the centre of the Ukrainian capital Kiev by mid-morning.

Police presence was heavy with more than 4,000 uniformed law enforcers on hand. The marchers were generally peaceful, although pro- and anti-partisan demonstrators repeatedly insulted each other verbally, across police cordons.

Ukrainian nationalists operating in the country’s densely forested western and northern provinces formally founded the Ukrainian Revolutionary Army (UPA) on October 14, 1942.

UPA partisans fought primarily against German troops occupying Ukraine at the time, but also against Soviet forces, and against ethnic Ukrainian and Polish partisans.

All sides targeted civilians and an estimated 100,000 people died in three years of intense fighting and ethnic cleansing.

After World War Two ended some UPA fighters continued limited operations against the Soviet regime until as late as 1953.

Some Ukrainians consider the UPA the country’s first true patriots. Other Ukrainians consider the UPA as bandits and Bandera as a traitor to the Soviet state.

Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur