Stepan Bandera: Lonsky Street blues

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Sept. 13, 2010, 11:29 a.m. |
When I look at what happened to Ruslan Zabily last week, I can’t help but think that could have been me. You see, I was offered the job of director of the Lonsky Street Prison Museum by Lviv city officials back in 2009. And I was going to take it, but there was no stopping Zabily in his pursuit of the position. I just finished a museum project on Ukrainians in Auschwitz and a book of translated documents from the 1932-33 Holodomor, so I welcomed the break from the miseries of history: the Lonsky Street Prison would’ve just added to the nightmares. Let him have it, I thought, if he wants it so badly.

A year and a half later, Zabily is detained in Kyiv by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), questioned for 14 1/2 hours, his notebook and hard discs confiscated and a criminal investigation opened against him. The charge: Zabily was going to reveal state secrets.

Domestic and international human rights watchdogs were quick to condemn the SBU’s reversion to KGB tactics. The speculations about the reasons for intimidating Zabily are many. Some think the SBU of President Viktor Yanukovych is trying too hard to please the Kremlin and demonstrably persecuting historians who do not subscribe to the Soviet historical narrative. Others consider the Zabily affair to be a warning to former SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who has spent the better part of the year organizing a civic movement called “Renewal of the Country.” Nalyvaichenko, the SBU chief under President Viktor Yushchenko when the spy agency declassified all the pre-1991 documents on Soviet repressions, has been vocal in his criticism of the Yanukovych regime. The Yanukovych regime has halted the declassification process started under Yushchenko.

I would add another reason to the list of speculations concerning the SBU’s hard-handed tactics, based on my experience with the Lonsky Street Prison Museum. It is much more mundane and although not as sexy as the KGB-Kremlin theory it’s just as worrisome. It goes back to the history of the prison and its location, location, location.

The prison is actually a complex of buildings constructed at different times. The building on the corner of Copernicus and Bandera streets was originally built as a barracks for Austro-Hungarian soldiers. It was used a prison by the Poles, Soviets, Nazis and Soviets again during the 20th century. The USSR liked the location so much they expanded the prison complex to include an administrative building and built a three-story prison in the courtyard.

The prison was closed in the mid-1990s and title to the land was transferred to the SBU. The KGB agents who once fought capitalism quickly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and decided to start playing the real estate game and erecting an apartment high-rise in the courtyard. Workers said they discovered human remains soon after they broke ground, but the masters told the slaves to keep digging away. They laid the foundation and started work on the first story before a public outcry forced a halt to the construction. The human remains showed the prison complex was not only used to incarcerate enemies of the state, but to kill and bury them as well. The Nazis forced the local Jews to carry the corpses of those killed by the Soviets out of the Lonsky Street Prison in July 1941, but those bodies were identified and re-buried over half a century ago. So whose bones were these?

If I was the director of the Lonsky Street Prison Museum, the first order of business would have been the careful and respectful exhumation of the human remains found in the prisons’ courtyard. Instead, people became more concerned with who was going to get title to the land and which firm would get the contract to build the memorial complex on the location. I came away with a feeling of disgust for the whole process. The Soviet system killed human decency in these people. They had grown accustomed to having human remains lying beneath their feet and didn’t mind building condos on top of them. These are the kind of people who would much rather have their own person running the museum instead of Zabily. These are the kind of people who see mercantile advantages, take them using force and intimidation, and flourish in Yanukovych’s Ukraine. They care not about national memory or historical justice or ideology. They want to sell you a house built atop killing fields.

Read the story here
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 1:16 p.m.    

love him or hate him Stepan Bandera expresses his view in a way that makes perfect sense to this American and the fact that Yanukovych is actually doing these things proves that his views are correct.

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 4:41 p.m.    

In Putin’s Russia, the Study of History is now a Crime

Read more:

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 9:23 p.m.    

You should try prose... your poetry sucks... unless its just poor typing skills.

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 9:47 p.m.    

One professional

Commenter practicing poetry

On the Kyiv Post forum

Gets his 30 pieces of silver

Every time he posts

On Putin's orders

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 9:48 p.m.    

It's a real shame at what happened to the Ukrainian nation under the Soviets. What Ukraine and all the other nations that arose on the death of the Evil Empire need is a spiritual renewal and a return to true faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, something that the Soviets tried to kill but were not able to do because in the end it was God who brought the Evil Empire down using Godly men like Pope Paul, Ronald Reagan and the God fearing people of the former Soviet Empire, especially the Ukrainians. Now the Ukrainian people need to use their newly regained freedom to pursue Godliness and Righteouness and reject the moral corruption that was imposed on them by the Soviets. The new commercialism and ungodly capitalism that is now rampant in Eastern Europe and Ukraine is just as evil as the communism that was before. Free enterprise is good when it does not degenerate into the worship of Mammon as is happening.

And yes, Bandera was and still is a Ukrainian hero who gave his life for his country. He will always be remembered in Ukrainian history as the leader of those who fought all forms of tyrrany and against all enemies of Ukraine.

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 10:47 p.m.    

Heil Bandera! Hitler's lapdog in the Ukraine.

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Anonymous Sept. 14, 2010, 5:55 a.m.    

Hitler's lap-dog for 10 years was Stalin.

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Anonymous Sept. 17, 2010, 8:15 p.m.    

Slava Yanukovichovi...Moscow's current lapdog in the Ukraine

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Anonymous Sept. 13, 2010, 11:39 p.m.    

Another gold mine overlooked by the Kyiv Post?

With recognition of the name &quot;Stephan Bandera&quot;

a REGULAR article about Ukrainian history would be

a popular draw, drawing many hits from the diaspora.

Get a black and white photograph of the contemporary Stephan

mimmicing the iconic pose or the historic Bandera photo with its

stare, hair style and white shirt and tie. Classic!

Packaged correctly a regular historic series would be a regular hit.

As far as headline the SBU arresting Stephan Bandera for questioning about

revealing historic state secrets would have been a blockbuster you have to admit.

Every ethnic Ukrainian newspaper would have loved to have broken that headline.

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Anonymous Sept. 14, 2010, 2:29 a.m.    

Haven't they learned anything from scary movies? Building homes anywhere near old burial grounds is a recipe for disaster...

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Anonymous Sept. 14, 2010, 6:04 a.m.    








NATO cooperation, was started in the 90's.

You are a complete imbecile, go kiss the patriarch devil Kirill and Putin.


10 million Starved to Death by MOSCOW'S ORDER

Millions of Soviet Soldiers imprisoned after WW2

Hundreds of Thousands Shot and murdered during Commie occupation.


Destruction of Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches


You see, this was all prevalent BEFORE YUSHENKO.

And you want it all back

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Anonymous Sept. 14, 2010, 2:48 p.m.    

Welcome to gulag Ukraine where the imbecile puppet of putin and convicted criminal yanukovich rewrite history and prevent the truth from coming out. I sincerely hope Zabily had made copies of his hard drive and given it to the west. This is the only way the muscovite history of terror can be exposed. How many more hidden stories similar to murders in Katyn will be revealed.

Muscovites are good only at murder, corruption and destruction.

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Anonymous Sept. 14, 2010, 11:38 p.m.    

A golf course would have been ideal for that location.

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Anonymous Sept. 17, 2010, 3:17 p.m.    

paparazi tell us

where have you seen Stepan Bandera

in Rome

did you say Rome?

what the hell!!!

roma ohhh roma...dear roma

so fascist, so buddy, so hot

now the nest of the neo-nazi

a nazi-falangista

of disturbed persuasion


pray, tell us

what did this mousoulini copy-cat

was doing in roma;

meeting the infallible

the 'el primo' cut of the finest cloth

a real wolf in the sheep clothes


pray, what our dear Stepan Bandera

business was there


i may just have a sip;

pray the fly on the wall

tell us what transpired


confession, wishes and more confession

Stepan Bandera loves his grand-uncle

so much so

that he would 'rimm' real Stepan Bandera

for nothing

such devotion and such selflessness

of a faithful disciple

of our beloved papa-fatherr


admirable of one so fascistically



neo-nazi bander rimming stalwart nazi bander

brings the tears to cheeks

adore me...adore me...adore me

rim me...rim me... rim me

one I look up so lovingly

in the gorgeous

brown eys.

oh...hhhhhhhhhhhh, lviv's

sodoma and gonorah

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Anonymous Sept. 17, 2010, 8:14 p.m.    

what an idiotic poem

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Anonymous Sept. 19, 2010, 8:47 p.m.    

A television or radio station was even easier to deal with. You simply take away their frequencies. But the Internet? Those who wanted to “neutralize” Gongadze took the most effective road, one dictated by the Stalinist formula “no person, no problem.”

Read more:

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