Kyiv Post | 23Jan2010 | Interfax Ukraine

Russian MPs rap Ukraine president for honoring nationalist

Members of Russia's upper house of parliament on Friday condemned a decree by outgoing Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko that posthumously conferred the title of Hero of Ukraine on Stepan Bandera, leader of a militant nationalist movement in western Ukraine in the 1940s, who was assassinated by the KGB in 1959.

"It is simply shameful. If our grandfathers and fathers learned about it they would simply turn in their graves with indignation," Yury Vorobyov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, told Interfax.

Yushchenko's decree reflects complete disregard for historical facts and "runs against common sense and the entire course of history," Vorobyov said. It also conflicts with the position of member countries of the World War II-era anti-Nazi coalition, the deputy speaker said.

"Stepan Bandera is an odious figure, and he is definitely not a hero of the Ukrainian people," Vorobyov said.

Alexander Torshin, first deputy speaker of the house, said Yushchenko has a poor knowledge of his country and its history and accused him of "disrespect for the memory of the slain soldiers who gave their lives for the freedom of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."

"All these moves that Yushchenko has been making consistently over a number of years by supporting obvious criminals who have been condemnedaccording toall international canonswith their crimesproved by numerous court trials and witness testimonies are simply offensive and provocative," said Federation Council member Alexander Pochinok.

Pochinok said Yushchenko was bound to be aware of Bandera's role in history. "He was bound to realize that he was supporting a criminal. It is an offensive move and it is not in the interests of Ukraine or its people," the lawmaker said.