Bandera’s heroism contrasts sharply with today’s cowardice

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April 9, 2010, 12:48 p.m. | Op-ed — by Stephen Bandera
To: Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, 11 Street of Bank, Kyiv, Ukraina Highly Esteemed Viktor Fyodorovych!

I never knew you had kangaroos in Donetsk. I learned that about your courts on April 2. We were on the way to church for Holy Great Friday Vespers when the telegram arrived stating “Your grandfather is no longer Hero of Ukraine.”

“Ha-ha!” I thought, “this April Fool’s joke is a day late,” and went to church where I reflected on the way Pontius Pilate washed his hands and thought of you. I remembered your promise to the Kremlin to strip Hero status from my grandfather before Stalin’s Victory Day on May 9. And then I understood that like Pilate you weren’t actually going to repeal the Hero title yourself. You would have a court do your dirty work.

Honestly, I didn’t think you were going to go through with it, because that would make a mockery of the Ukrainian judicial system. You see, we’ve been down this legal road before. Last year, the Donetsk Administrative Court ruled on a case filed by lawyer Vladimir Olentsevych who challenged the Hero of Ukraine title bestowed on UPA Commander-in-Chief Roman Shukhevych.

Olentsevych claimed that his rights as a citizen were violated because Roman Shukhevych was never a citizen of Ukraine. According to law, only citizens of Ukraine can be awarded “Hero of Ukraine.” Olentsevych argued that: a) Ukraine came into being in 1991 and b) Shukhevych was killed in 1951, ergo he was not a citizen of Ukraine. On Feb. 12, 2009, the Donetsk Administrative Court ruled against Olentsevych: Shukhevych’s Hero of Ukraine award did not contravene Ukrainian law. Case closed.

Fast forward one year. Same court, same plaintiff, same claim as in the Shukhevych case, except the target is Bandera. This time around, however, Donetsk Administrative Court Judge Karine Eskenderivna Abdukadirova ruled that Bandera cannot be a “Hero of Ukraine” because he was never its citizen. So what changed in the last year? The law is the same, a legal precedent exists. What’s different this time around? It’s you Mr. President. A new president is in office.

In functioning democracies where Rule of Law has been more or less established, judges are typically not influenced by or dependent upon those holding executive branch office. Even those people who absolutely despise Bandera and would like to see him stripped of Hero status have cause for concern. Ukraine’s court system is subject to the whims of whoever holds political power. The judiciary is a dependent joke.

Following the logic of the Donetsk court ruling, you will have to “de-heroize” at least 15 Heroes who died before 1991, including poets Vasyl Stus and Volodymyr Ivasiuk. Then there are the brave men who died fighting the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986. And the Red Army heroes who liberated Auschwitz, accepted the capitulation of the Japanese and raised the Soviet flag atop the Reichstag in Berlin to mark the end of the Great Patriotic War. They, like Bandera, died before 1991.

Sixty three days! That’s how long Stepan Bandera lasted as Hero of Ukraine... Tell me, Mr. President, what is he now: Enemy of Ukraine? Anti-Hero of Ukraine? Regular guy of Ukraine?

O Great Yanukovych! I will abide by whatever you decide in your infinite wisdom. But I accepted the Hero of Ukraine award on behalf of our family from the hands of a president, and I will only give it back into the hands of a president. No crowds. Mono e mono. For my part, I promise: No eggs.

Ukrainian nationalists Stepan Bandera (L) and Roman Shukhevych

Mr. President! You tried to ruin Easter for our family, but you failed. For the same day your court in Donetsk ruled to strip Bandera of his Hero title, God bestowed the best gift possible to our family: the birth of Stepan Bandera’s fifth great grandchild. The KGB succeeded in killing his great grandfather. But try as you might, you will never stop the Banderas: Coming soon to a gene pool near you!

Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Her Children! In prostration,
S.A. Bandera
Grandson of Hero of Ukraine

PS: I heard your spokeswoman Hanna Herman called me a “bad grandson.” That may be so. Because if I was a “good son” then I most certainly would have a job in the government like her son Mykola who was magically appointed the Deputy Minister for Emergency Situations.

Stepan Bandera is a reporter and a former Kyiv Post journalist. You can read his blog entries at
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