Viktor Yanukovych To Gain Points From Bandera Controversy - Expert

KIEV, Ukraine -- It will be easy for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to cancel his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko's January decree to award, amid much media hysteria, the honorary title of Hero of Ukraine to onetime Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, a Polish analyst said Sunday.

Yanukovych vows to resolve issue of Hero of Ukraine Bandera.

Warsaw University's Andrzej Szeptycki said the cancelation would bring Yanukovych additional points in the European Union and Russia and would make it possible for him to "annoy" Yushchenko.

Yanukovych, sworn in February 25 following the February 7 presidential election runoff that he narrowly won from then prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said after Friday's talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow that the Bandera controversy would be settled before this year's Victory Day.

"This is a concession Yanukovych will find easy to make," Szeptycki was quoted by the Unian news agency as saying.

Yanukovych has a friendly attitude to Russia rather than Yushchenko whose pro-Western policies, including a bid to take Ukraine into NATO, saw a rapid deterioration in bilateral ties.

Bandera's Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists briefly allied with Nazi Germany during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviet authorities accused Bandera, who fought both the Nazis and the Soviets in his quest for an independent Ukraine, of numerous acts of murder and terrorism. He was assassinated by the KGB in Munich, Germany, on October 15, 1959.

In Ukraine Bandera is a controversial figure, with many in the more nationalist west of the country considering him a hero.

Yanukovych's position "shows that [Yushchenko] is no longer president," Szeptycki said, adding that Yanukovych is ready to sacrifice potential western Ukrainian support to the benefits he would have from good relations with the EU and Russia.

EU parliamentarians on February 25 condemned Yushchenko's decree and called on Yanukovych to revise the decision.

Source: RIA Novosti