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Hero one day, but not the next: Stepan Bandera debate flares

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Jan. 14, 2011, 1:58 a.m. | Ukraine — by Reuters

Demonstrators on Oct. 14, 2009, in Kyiv mark the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought Soviet and Nazi soldiers during World War II to secure national independence. UPA leader Stepan Bandera (1909-1959).
© (Yaroslav Debelyi, Mykola Lazarenko)

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Reuters – Ukraine on Jan. 12 officially scrapped the hero status newly conferred on a wartime nationalist leader, a move likely to fuel tension between the pro-Russian east and the nationalist west. Former President Viktor Yushchenko sparked the ire of east Ukrainians a year ago, shortly before leaving office, by posthumously declaring World War Two nationalist Stepan Bandera a Hero of Ukraine.

Bandera was the ideological leader of nationalist fighters who fought for independence in western Ukraine in the turbulence leading up to the outbreak of war and beyond.

Bandera, who was assassinated by the KGB in 1959, has near-saint status among many people there and thousands of Bandera loyalists flock to the capital Kyiv every year and march hrough the streets in his honor.

But this sentiment is not shared by those in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine who hold views of Soviet history which are closer to those of Moscow.


In a Jan. 22, 2010 file photo, then-President Viktor Yushchenko (L) hands Stepan Bandera, the grandson of the late nationalist leader, the Hero of Ukraine award in Kyiv.


Yushchenko’s award sparked anger in Russia, where Bandera is regarded as a fascist, and from Poland, where he is blamed for organising the mass killings of Poles.

The Simon Wiesenthal centre also expressed outrage, saying Bandera was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews.

In a statement on Jan. 12, the office of President Viktor Yanukovych, who took over from the pro-Western Yushchenko in February and has tilted policy more towards Russia, said the honor conferred on Bandera “has been found invalid by a court ruling.”

This appeared to foreshadow the announcement of a decision by the supreme administrative court which has the authority to scrap presidential decrees.

Yushchenko hit back, saying the move was a “gross error” by a presidency that “should be working for uniting society not dividing it.”

Yushchenko’s press secretary, Iryna Vannikova, quoted him as saying: “Attempts to re-write Ukrainian history and belittle Ukrainian heroes to please the Kremlin and Moscow with hired decisions of court, will only incline people against these authorities.”

Another sign of the recurring regional tension in the ex-Soviet republic surfaced on New Year’s Eve when a new monument to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was blown up in a city in central Ukraine.

Though most Ukrainians see Stalin as a symbol of Russian oppression, communists in the town of Zaporizhya had erected the monument there in his honour last May. It was blown up on Dec. 31 -- the eve of Bandera’s birthday.

The incident was later officially described as “a terrorist act.”
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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 2:02 a.m.    

When Ukrainians finally take control of their country and purge the current criminal mafia occupation ALL of this injustice will be corrected...this time NO AMNESTY for those who commit genocide against our nation!!!!!

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 8:09 a.m.    

And how much blood is on your hands Uke?

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 2:17 a.m.    

This act deserves another Stalin Monument hit, blow them all up, and then blow up the mob-government.

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 6:09 a.m.    

Христос Раждається! - Славіте Його!

Christ is Born! - Glorify Him!

QUOTE: &quot;...Bandera, who was assassinated by the KGB in 1959, has near-saint status among many people there and thousands of Bandera loyalists flock to the capital Kyiv every year and march through the streets in his honor...&quot;

Satan Lucifer weaves lies with enough truth to appear justified in contrast to balance reporting of both sides of the story with sources, allowing researches of history to achieve the truth.

The disinformation of lying was skillfully used by Stalin.

The Wiesenthal Center as a donation dependent witch hunting agency hounds Ukrainians like Demjanjuk

The Russian Donetsk Mafia keeps Ukrainian home town Vasyl Stus obscure.

The Polish Catholics keeps Andryj Sheptytsky from sainthood because of their pride.

The Little Rusian Orthodox keeps Joayf Slipyj's historical status quiet to stifle the Kyiv Patriarchate.

The Russian Orthodox keep Josaphat Kuntsevych a pariah amongst Byzantine Churches for control.

The Ukrainian heroes, along with the 1932-3 famine genocide are standardly surrounded by disinformation without sources.

They think this will discard them but instead they are secured by the fervor of believers.

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 8:07 a.m.    

Demyanyuk will rot in hell with Bandera and all you Jew hating Ukrainian anti semite batards. It seems you never met a mass murderer you didn't like, except for Stalin who is also in hell with the rest of the Fascist murderers. When you go there you can see them all.

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 11:33 p.m.    

We don't like Kaganovich, Molotov, Beria, Lenin, Marx, Dzerzinski, or anyone who ever served in the NKVD or its successors either... No doubt that covers a lot of your blood stained relatives.

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Anonymous Jan. 19, 2011, 4:32 a.m.    

Demyanyuk was never Bandera OUN... he was Red Army!

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 6:21 a.m.    

When will Ukraine stand up? Being the repetitive doormat for Poland, Germany, and Russia is simply history repeating itself. The current regime exemplifies this. If Bandera represents the iconic martyr needed in order for Ukraine to advance and become the self-ruling economic power it should be, so be it. Viva Bandera!!

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 9:58 a.m.    

Bandera is not the best choice for national hero. He is too controversial, not just among Ukrainians but also internationally. Why not choose someone like Sheptytsky or even Klitschko brothers? If your goal is to promote Ukraine and to promote unity among Ukrainians, better to choose someone that is difficult to contest.

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 11:39 p.m.    

Ukraine would be best served by re-openning the SBU archives so that the truth about Bandera, the UPA and other Ukrainian patriots can be thoroughly and honestly examined by Ukrainians and foreigners alike. Its no accident that the current occupation government was so quick to cover the criminal tracks of its historic predecessors. Nothing disinfects like sunlight, and vermin prefer darkness.

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Anonymous Jan. 18, 2011, 5:25 a.m.    

Ukraine dos not need another hero. Bandera mist certainly is not a Hero of Ukraine. Yushchenko most certainly did not and does not represent Ukraine He received only 5% support. Yushchenko is a disgrace and he has brought Bandera into disgrace also.

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Anonymous Jan. 14, 2011, 10 a.m.    

Of course, it does not at all look like either politician is genuinely trying to unite/promote Ukraine or Ukrainians. They are both using Bandera for their antagonistic and provocative purposes

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Anonymous Jan. 18, 2011, 5:23 a.m.    

&quot;We don't need another hero&quot;

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Anonymous Jan. 15, 2011, 12:44 a.m.    

Couldn't agree more.

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Anonymous Jan. 18, 2011, 5:19 a.m.    

Yushchenko had no authority to declare Bandera a &quot;Hero of Ukraine&quot;. he was a caretaker president who had lost the election - having only recover 5% support. His decision to declare Bandera a Hero was made after he had lost the first round of the vote. Under the conventions of a caretaker role the incumbent has no authority or right to make decisions that are not urgent without the support and agreement of the main contending candidates. Yushchenko's actions in breaching the caretaker provisions demonstrated yet again his unsuitability for office. Ukraine could not have had a worst president then Yushchenko - 5 years wasted - Ukraine's democratic and economic development set back decades as a result of his term of office. A failed President who betrayed Ukraine and all those who supported him.

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Anonymous Jan. 18, 2011, 5:22 a.m.    

Young Stephen Bandera should return the Award rather then allow his family's name to be brought into disrepute and disgrace by an ill considered and inappropriate decision made by Yushchenko. It is not an award that had merit or support

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Anonymous Jan. 20, 2011, 11:56 p.m.    

Neither Stepan Bandera, nor the young Bandera would want Ukrainians distracted by this phony story, when the current government of thieves robs the country blind and sells out its interest to the Kremlin. Quick quiz question - who among you would want Yanukovych representing your interests in negotiations with Putin, a show of hands? I see none.

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Anonymous Jan. 20, 2011, 11:49 p.m.    

The bombing of the Stalin statue was not a terrorist act but a provocation, the same way the Regionaries like to point to Svoboda as some scary cartoon image of Ukrainian patriots/nationalists.

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